A student uses a laptop

Values picked up by children and young people from social networking sites like Facebook may be replacing the traditional role that parents play.

Some have suspected this has long been the case, but researchers at the new Centre for Learner Identity Studies (CLIS), based at Edge Hill University, will take a fresh look at how and why individuals learn in the way they do. Researchers will also explore how relevant traditional theories are in today’s society.

It is widely believed that future education, employment, health and life-style choices hinge on factors such as gender, ethnicity and social class at birth. It was traditionally thought that parents were the most influential factor in a child’s development, helping to form opinions and make choices.

CLIS will examine whether or not this level of parental influence still exists, or whether other, stronger influences are potentially at work, possibly filling the gap left by a lack of traditional parenting role models.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are regulated internet-based virtual spaces where individuals can exchange thoughts and ideas.

Researchers at Edge Hill University will use the results from a range of projects to make recommendations that will mould the way in which children are taught and may re-shape the way teachers and others involved in education are trained.

Prof. Martin Ashley, founder of CLIS said: “Factors such as gender, religion, spirituality, place, environment and social class all impact enormously on how individuals learn. The new centre will be a place where ground-breaking research will be carried out, potentially shaping the educational options of the future.”

The Centre for Learner Identity Studies launch event takes place on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 5pm. Places are free and if you would like to attend, please call Phil Jones on 01695 65 0818 or email jonesph@edgehill.ac.uk.