When used effectively, new technologies have the potential to allow students to “speak” to a world far beyond their local community. In doing so, they empower students to write and publish for a global audience, encouraging them to be more than just the audience. There is also a pressing need for students to be literate in the new digital practices that are required to actively participate in the global economy. A major concern many educators have is the fact that students often communicate among themselves in ways that school systems do not formally recognize but that the workplace is moving to embrace.
This action research investigates the use of online social media as a learning environment for adolescents between 13 and 16 years old throughout semester 2, 2010. The project involved all of Casey’s classes at a Year 7 to 12 coeducational public high school with a student population of approximately 900. The school is located in Geelong, a city with a population of approximately 200,000 located about 80 kilometers from the Victorian state capital of Melbourne in Australia. Students are predominantly from a mid-range of socioeconomic backgrounds.