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Identity, Social Networking & Digital Tools. Laura Morrison & Dr. Janette M. Hughes. OVERVIEW.

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identity social networking digital tools

Identity, Social Networking & Digital Tools

Laura Morrison &

Dr. Janette M. Hughes

  • Our latest digital literacies research explored the creation and development of online and offline identities through a unit on poetry, a classroom social networking site called the Ningand various digital tools.
  • The five poetry types upon which the lessons were based include: acrostic, six-rooms of a poem, postcard, spoken word, and found poetry.
project focus
  • To explore how adolescents’ identities are shaped and performed as they use a social networking platform to present themselves to the world
  • We also examined how online and offline identities correspond and differ in the context of adolescents’ out-of-school lives and their school lives
  • Finally we observed how digital tools and a multimodal pedagogy engaged students and influenced their literary practices
theoretical framework
Theoretical Framework
  • Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998, 2000, 2007; Rourke et al., 2001; Salmon, 2005)
  • Affinity Spaces (Gee, 2004)
  • SNS in Education (Boyd, 2006; Brady, Holcomb & Smith, 2010; Kear, 2011; Picciano, 2002)
  • Social Presence in Online Learning (Bai, 2003; Cobb, 2009; DeSchryver et al., 2009)
  • Adolescent Identities (Buckingham; Ke, Chavez & Causarano, 2011)
  • New Literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006; Coiro, 2004)
  • Multiliteracies (NLG, 1996; Selber, 2004)
  • Digital Literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008; Frey, Fisher, Gonzalez, 2010)
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Three grade six classes
  • 78 students
  • 90%of students immigrants
  • 21%From war-torn countries
  • 12% ESL students
  • 10% Resource students
  • Macbook laptops
  • Ubiquitous wifi access
  • Websites:;;; YouTube; Glogster
  • Computer software: Microsoft Word; PPT; iMovie
  • Thematic focus on identity development and dual identity (both online/offline dual identity and two nationalities dual identity)
  • Ningnetwork – social networking site where students could:
  • personalize their profile pages
  • ‘friend’ other Ningmembers
  • post photos, videos
  • post status updates
  • post comments and discussions
  • ‘Like’ photos, comments and videos posted by other


  • create groups
the poetry acrostic
The Poetry – Acrostic

Created a digital ‘About Me’ poster that included:

- An Acrostic Poem using their names and the online Acrostic Poetry tool on the www.readwritethink.orgwebsite

- A personalized barcode created in Word using line shapes and significant/meaningful numbers that represent them as individuals

- A ‘profile’ pic taken with the Photo Boothtool

the poetry six rooms
The Poetry – Six-Rooms

Created a six-room poem:

  • First in a brainstorming table in Word with the following headings as writing prompts: Image, Light, Sound, Question, Feeling, Repetition
  • Then, in a formal poem using the online quick-writing website
  • Students then shared & commented on each others’ poems on the Ning
the poetry postcard
The Poetry – Postcard

Created a Postcard poem:

  • First shown examples & deconstructed their elements
  • Created their own postcard poem visuals usingwww.Glogster.comanswering the prompt: “Who I want to be in middle school”
  • Wrote a poem in response to the collage and included it on their posters
  • Students then shared & commented on each others’ poems on the Ning
the poetry postcard1
The Poetry – Postcard
the poetry spoken word
The Poetry – Spoken Word

Created a Spoken Word poem:

  • First shown an example on YouTube [] & deconstructed their elements
  • Created their own Spoken Word poem usingiMovieanswering the prompt: “Who I Am” discussing their dual national identities
  • Students then uploaded their movies to YouTube, shared the links on Ning& commented on each others’ poems
the poetry found
The Poetry – Found

Created a Found poem:

  • First shown an example of a Found poem with words taken from magazine and TV advertisements
  • Created their own Found poems usingthe words and phrases found in their classrooms
  • Class discussion re: how one’s environment can shape or influence their personalities/identities
  • Students then wrote another Found poem using their status updates, comments and discussions etc. from the Ning and reflected on the personalities they portray on Ning based on what they publish.
  • Larger class discussion then on how many ‘hats’ they wear or identities they have in their daily lives depending on the situations.
  • Uploaded their poems to Ning & commented on each others’ poems
discussion turning it over to you
Discussion – Turning it over to you!
  • Time Frame: 15 minutes
  • Feel free to…
  • Ask questions
  • Make connections to your own work
  • Discuss concerns
  • Discuss/consider the utility of the ideas presented for your own projects (during this week or in the future)