changing because of advances in technology. How we communicate with each other has changed dramatically with the implementation of powerful and popular , like Facebook. Today, both teams and adults spend a surprising amount of time on the social media sites. The question here is whether or not such activities can actually be a positive potential in regards to the growth of literacy and language development.

Social media is a trend that is only continuing to grow. It is used by most adolescents and young adults, who are still rolling in terms of their literacy and reading skills. This current dissertation aims to explore how we use and prevalence of social media can actually assist in developing literacy skills. As teenagers and young adults spend so much time on social media sites like Facebook, they are bombarded with visual and textual material. The current research was aiming to explore whether or not this promoted a positive development in literacy and if social media tools could be adjusted in order to promote stronger development of literacy and language skills. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to test how social media platforms in teens and young adults.

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There is a definite and clear research problem. Ronda (2011) wants to explore if the problems surrounding educators’ efforts trying to limit the use of Facebook would hinder a potential academic revamping of its implications. Here, Ronda (2011) suggests that “the problem of Facebook as it relates to literacy: what online social networking contributes to the meaning-making repertoire that teens are developing digitally, and whether and how this digital literacy toolkit can be used to support teens’ literacy development in school” (Ronda, 2011). Facebook is an amazing social networking tool that has endless possibilities for engaging students, but the primary problem is the fact that most of this engagement has tended to be nonacademic. Rhonda (2011) wanted to see if the social media platform would be sufficient enough for a transformation into the classroom. Ronda (2011) then asked this fundamental research question to drive her future study, “How could Facebook, an environment that is profoundly social, be taken on as an educational tool?” Thus, there is a clear research problem and question defined within the dissertation that then leads the further discussion of the current discourse and outlines the justification for the methodology used within the research.

Ronda (2011) discusses several justifications for the study. Ultimately, Facebook is a very popular platform that is free to use and easy to access. Therefore, it would be a great resource for educational purposes at all levels if it proves successful. Essentially, Facebook could be one of the easiest and most popular tools to be used in educational designs for teaching literacy and encouraging student engagement beyond traditional measures. However, further research needs to be conducted in a social media platform with such a negative reputation for educational purposes. In fact, most schools ban the use of Facebook while in the classroom because of the tendency for students to use the social media platform for negative activities that deter educational success. Students often bully each other on Facebook, which create a very negative environment that is not conducive to learning. Moreover, students have extensive networks on Facebook with friends that have nothing to do with school. Thus it used in classroom can be extremely distracting, with students engaging in activities that have nothing to do with the educational process. In order to test whether or not Facebook is actually slightly educational tool, Ronda (2011) had to explore its actual use. Thus, the study is justified because they have to prove beyond a measurable doubt that Facebook can be that one for educational purposes. With this in mind, Ronda (2011) does provide enough justification for the study because she wanted to explore whether or not the use of Facebook in the classroom was worth the risk of student distraction and potential incidents of cyberbullying. Moreover, Ronda (2011) suggests how the social media platform Facebook has received little attention in regards the studies testing it in actual educational environment. Thus, the study is justified because it fills a gap in the current discourse regarding how Facebook can be used within the classroom. Yet, Ronda (2011) does add in more research questions than she can clearly answer later on in the thesis. The research questions should have stayed more limited to what her data could have answered, rather than simply listing a number of questions related to her topic.

The hypothesis is not so easy to find. Clearly, Ronda (2011) believes that Facebook can be adapted into the classroom to promote positive literacy development. However, she understands that this effort is going to be troublesome because of the negative reputation Facebook has to educators. Yet, the hypothesis is not directly defined in a way that makes it easy for readers to find. Rather, readers are forced to gather pits and pieces of her hypothesis as they read the ongoing sections of the dissertations. It would have been more effective to have a clearly defined hypothesis directly stated after the research questions were announced within the report.

Still, the key terms used within this report are well defined. Ronda (2011) uses diligence in defining what Facebook is, how it is used, and some of its downfalls that have traditionally kept it out of classrooms. She also goes into great depth for defining her study population, teens. She describes why they are the best focus and defines how she will discuss them throughout the study context. Even the notion of literacy and multimedia literacies are defined in great detail, to ensure that the reader understands the progression from a flat concept of literacy in print and traditional digital media to this more immersed and engaging form of literacy using social networking platforms to encourage active user participation and content generation.

The literature review is not very clearly defined. There is an extensive review of the current discourse, but it is in a format that makes it hard to see where the literature review actually begins. It would have been stronger to have more traditional headers so that the reader understood where the literature review began and ended. Moreover, there is a lot of use of first person pronouns, even within the literature review. This does serve as slightly confusing, as the reader is not sure whether some of the material presented here is based more on personal opinion or actual empirical evidence taken from previous studies. The delivery of the literature review would have been much more effective if it was more traditionally defined and avoided such an extensive use of first person pronouns.

There is an extensive discussion of the ongoing discourse within the study topic that provides a wealth of empirical evidence from previous study findings. Ronda (2011) builds specifically off of one study conducted by the New London Group in 1996. According to Ronda (2011), this study “introduced the notion of multiliteracies as a way to start tackling the new literacy landscape: a notion examining literacies as multiple, both in the growing diversity of media that are now employed to make meaning, and in multiple languages and cultures that increasingly enter the .” It is his notion of multimedia literacies that allowed Ronda (2011) to try to construct Facebook as a platform for a Web 2.0 source for literacy development, where students not only read material, but actively engage and participate within it as well. Overall, Ronda (2011) provides extensive detail to discuss the current discourse and define her terms of study, which is extremely helpful for a dissertation dealing with such abstract phenomenon.

Therefore the research design is spelled out quite thoroughly. According to Ronda (2011), there have been three major shifts in “conception of literacies,” where print context has transferred to digital content, and the final shift being into Web 2.0 platforms, where users can engage themselves in what they are reading and generate their own user content like never before possible with print or traditional digital media. Thus, Ronda (2011) wanted to define two spaces for studying literacy development, online and offline. Thus, she created a third space, My Writing Circle, which was the Facebook group and unique application that allowed student users to actively participate in order to show their developmental progress related to the literacy learning skills they were being introduced to.

Ronda (2011) focused on using teen participants because of the prevalence of social media sites like Facebook already present in their lives. Teens are some of the most active Facebook users, and thus already know the tools of the site. According to Ronda (2011), “media and academics alike have focused on how teens use online social networking in their free time: whether they are at risk in online social networks, what practices they are engaged in, and how their academic success is affected by their engagement in social networks,” (Ronda, 2011). Thus, she gathered teen participants from schools in Toronto, Canada. She eventually decided on a group of 11th grade students who were all active within a single English classroom. This, she explains, was a microcosm for a that could be more easily studied and controlled. In all, 47 students in a single classroom were enrolled in the study.

There is a very thorough discussion of the procedural details of the study. Essentially, Ronda (2011) created an educational application called My Writing Circle that was a group on Facebook to help 11th grade student participate with each other in reading and writing activities online. The students were allowed to share content in a number of multimedia forms, including artifacts, videos, and a collaborative wiki that each student could engage in ad content to. Data was then collected “online through Facebook and My Writing Circle, and physically in the school through observations, logs, and interviews with the participants” (Ronda, 2011). In the classroom, Ronda used interviews and observations as her primary data collection method. From an online perspective, a digital log of the students’ Internet activities was generated for each student. Moreover, student activities in the My Writing Circle were gathered and kept for the later review of the data to formulate results. Although this data collection method is quite abstract, it is thorough based on that she is attacking the situation from both an online and offline perspective. Still, more quantitative measures might have strengthened the data collected and the later results derived from that data. It was also not quite clear how internal and external validity was addressed in the study. This makes some of the data observations questionable.

Due to the study being so abstract and qualitative in nature, Ronda (2011) used a grounded theory methodology for interpreting her findings. She used the coding and categorizing measurements presented by Corbin & Strauss (2008) to interpret the abstract data observed within the context of the study. This is a great method for such an abstract study, as it allows connections to be drawn by making categories and concepts from the observed data and does not rely on quantitative statistical analysis since the data is not so easily defined in quantitative measurements. She used open coding as a way to spell out frequent concepts that led to the development of themes within the interviews and student generated content. Overall, 215 codes were generated, developed in word clouds to show their relation to one another. This led Ronda (2011) to develop a total of eight salient themes that connected all the concepts she had pulled out through the grounded theory analysis of the abstract data. She discusses each student who participated in great detail, which helped her generate her coding practices.

Overall, Ronda (2011) determined that the increased engagement required in Web 2. is a good way to increase positive developments in literacy. It allows students to engage more actively, which then opens them up to greater learning potential. Thus, social media can be harnessed to provide real and positive results in promoting literacy development in high school students. However, there was an unintended consequence of this study to create the notion that social media may be impracticable to use in a real classroom. It was quite difficult for teachers to control their students’ behavior on social media sites like Facebook. Ultimately, social media can be a powerful tool; however, it may be best to use social media platform specifically designed for educational purposes in order to avoid some of the downfalls of having students become distracted by Facebook. The negative reputation of Facebook is hard to control in the classroom. Therefore despite teacher supervision, 11th grade students did get distracted by the lure of Facebook use it for non-educational purposes.

There was a strong summary which broke down some of the findings in a more concise manner, making it easier for the reader to interpret than some of the findings in the larger student analysis sections. The summary and final thoughts sections help break down the more abstract concepts brought up throughout the context of this dissertation in more direct and meaningful statements. This ultimately helped reinforce some of the findings that were presented in more complicated and abstract language beforehand.

This research is only a starting point for understanding how social media platforms can be used to facilitate literacy development. Ronda (2011) only focused her study on a single classroom, which could leave open potential limitations in trying to take her overall findings and applying them to a larger student population across cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Future studies would benefit from increasing the size of the sample study and incorporating a more diverse student population.


Ronda, Natalia Sinitskaya. (2011). Facing the Facebook challenge: Designing online social networking environments for literacy development. Graduate Programme in Language, Culture, and Teaching. York University.