Before the era of Information Society children were learning through direct apprenticeship and through direct social interactions in the context of the family, the village or the adjacent city. Information society led to the formation of a global village without clear defined boundaries to hinder the information interchange between the global citizens. In modern society implicit learning takes place due to the norms imposed by mass media. Television and cinema are central actors in today’s learning processes. Family, school and local community remain important learning contexts but mass media play a paramount role by defining what is social accepted as “cool”, trendy and modern which is very important for children and teens as well as for the rest of us.
Mass media and the resulted global village are the “trademarks” of information society. Today however, Internet technologies and the resulted virtual communities constitute a discrete stage in information society because they result to totally computer-mediated social interactions. The salient characteristic of interactivity was missing in traditional mass media like television. Computer-mediated social interactions lead to the formation of virtual social relations or, to be more accurate, to the formation of real social relations based on a virtual space. People entering virtual communities like facebook, myspace, youtube or flickr they feel like joining a real-world localized community, a place full of emotions and lived social experiences with other virtual-mates.
According to the situative approach, learning is a socio-cultural process directly related with living in a society and interacting with other persons. Learning is a social process, so social relations even if mediated by computers and internet lead to learning. Today, children and adolescents use internet social tools, like chat or social networking sites (SNS) more and more in an increasing rate.
There are some attempts to utilize specialized social networking sites to facilitate learning at a class level. These experiments are very important, not because of the very fact that maybe we can use social networking sites to improve learning by “recruiting” a new teaching tool, but mainly because through such experiments we can understand what is changing in the way people are learning. The shift from oral tribes to literate ones changed the very core of human mental and cognitive processes. The increased mediation of human sociality by computer machines maybe causes analogous alterations in our own psychological functions. How learning and cognitive processes are affected by living in a hybrid society? That is the question…