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Title: "We're superhuman, we just can't spell" : using the affordances of an online social network to motivate learning through literacy in dyslexic sixth-form students
Author: Barden, Owen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 6894
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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This is a study of the use of Facebook as an educational resource by five dyslexic students at a Sixth Form College in north-west England. Through a project in which teacher-researcher and student-participants co-constructed a Facebook group page about the students' scaffolded research into dyslexia, the study examines the educational affordances of a digitally-mediated social network. An innovative, flexible, experiential methodology combining action research and case study with an ethnographic approach was devised. This enabled the use of multiple mixed methods including participant-observation, interviews, video, dynamic screen capture and protocol analysis. This range of methods helped to capture much of the depth and complexity of the students' online and offline interactions with each other and with Facebook as they contributed to the group and co-constructed their Facebook page. The philosophy and concepts of the New Literacy Studies and multimodality (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996, Kress 2010), and rigorous qualitative analytical procedures are used to construct a substantive grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) of the students' engagement with the social network and hence its educational potential. The study assesses the students' motivation to learn through literacy, the role of identities, and considers the pedagogical principles their use of the network evokes. It concludes that Facebook offers an affinity space which engages the students in active, critical learning about and through literacy (Gee, 2004 & 2007). Little if any research has apparently been documented on the potential of digital media to engage and motivate dyslexic students, nor to integrate models of dyslexia, radical perspectives on literacy and social models of disability (Herrington & Hunter-Carsch, 2001). This study begins to address this oversight and imbalance.
Supervisor: Davies, Julia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available