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Title: Social software supported children's education out of school : informality and transition of learning
Author: Yang, Yang
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 4411
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis is motivated to harness UK children’s enthusiasm and energy on using social software to connect with each other. The overarching research aim of this thesis is to investigate how social software can cultivate children aged 11 – 14 as a community of learners out of school, in order to support their education. Two key issues: informality of out-of-school learning and transitions of learning practices across home and school, are identified as research challenges. Community of Practice is proposed as the theoretical construct to open up and provide useful coverage to respond to these two challenges. In five case studies, various methodologies are utilised to investigate the actual uses that children make of social software as well as to explore the networked dynamics within a community that mediate the fate of technology. First, UK children’s use of a nationwide homework message board in two subjects: Maths and English is investigated. Findings suggest that seeking for help is the prevailing concern expressed by the children, when they confront their private study out of school. A strong emotional tone is evoked in the board, which sustains children’s co-participation as a community. Second, whether and how an online whiteboard can support children’s GCSE Maths exam revision with a teacher during out-of-school hours is explored. Findings shed light on the difficulty in nurturing a community of learners through social software and .the role of a teacher’s online presence out of school. The third study explores how a group of students and a teacher are cultivated as a learning community across classroom (physical) and a social networking site (virtual). Findings suggest that the informality of socio-emotional chat, content production and identity construction helps to identify the non-academic dimension of being a learner within a community. In order to cultivate a learning community, it is suggested that children should be supported to form a community that will function better in the class rather than just being put into continuous tuition hours with extra teacher support out of school. Findings also discover the benefit to access a teacher via multiple communication channels. Furthermore, in an attempt to illuminate the underlying networked dynamics in a social software-supported community, Chinese children using a homework message board is investigated. Findings suggest that the specific emotional tone revealed in the UK message board is related to the UK children’s particular perspectives in learning and knowledge. Finally, interviews with two cultural groups of children: English and Chinese are conducted, in which the children mapped their in-school and out-of-school activities and their personal preferences of technologies. Findings suggest that the fate of a supportive technology must be judged with a firm grasp of the learning culture that it is implemented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB1024 Teaching