Volume 6 [Issue 2], 2014


Adolescence and the narrative complexities of online life: On the making and unmaking of YouTube’s anonygirl1

Roger Saul


This article examines the public YouTube profile of AnonyGirl1, the pseudonym used by a teenaged girl who takes to YouTube to narrate various aspects of her life. Using AnonyGirl1’s case as an object of analysis, the article considers the new narrative flexibilities that are shaping young people’s online explorations of self. On YouTube, where narrative linearity and fixity often come undone, AnonyGirl1 creates herself as a chimera of disappearing and reappearing video fragments that comprise an unstable, constantly changing entirety. In making and unmaking herself in fragments, AnonyGirl1 calls into question the presumed coherences of predominant youth narratives, negotiates her views about being young, and articulates processes of interior self-making through a mode of social expression that gives new form to its fluidities. Although the surfeit of narrative choices that AnonyGirl1 has at her disposal on YouTube come with a series of pleasures, the possibilities for self-construction that these choices provoke also come with debilitating pressures and confusions that she scrambles to negotiate. Amidst these pleasures and confusions, AnonyGirl1’s narrative offers a venue through which educators can think through the emerging complexities of young people’s online self-making practices.


Switching between productive multitasking and distraction: A case study of how users adapt to mobile tablet devices

Sora Park


This study explores how new users of mobile tablet devices experience and learn to adapt to an environment in which there is a ubiquitous internet connection. A mixed methods study combining netnography and online surveys was conducted among 35 university students in Australia. The portable and mobile nature of tablets enabled participants to be engaged in continuous internet access throughout the day, expanding the situations in which they could engage in multiple tasks. This study focused on the way users prioritise tasks, particularly within the context of studying. Over the course of one year, participants developed their own methods of dealing with the new challenges they encountered. Most participants managed demands on their time and attention by switching between productive and distractive multitasking. Self-regulation strategies were developed through the process of managing the distraction, the main strategies being physical disconnection from the device and mental planning.

Learning to leisure? When social media becomes educational media

Tara Brabazon

Social media sites – like Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, FourSquare and Twitter – summon a tapestry of friendship, humour and community between digitally literate citizens around the world. But the role and value of these platforms and portals for education, teaching and learning is neither self-evident nor obvious. Therefore, this article returns to a key early text in the sociology of education: Paul Willis’s Learning to Labour. Willis addressed the injustices within and beyond school. He probed how teaching practices and the ‘resistive’ behaviours of young men ensured that they were prevented from – and indeed prevent themselves – from gaining social mobility. Everyday practices such as smoking, drinking, truancy and swearing undermined their capacity to improve economic and social status. It is appropriate to return to Willis’s argument and explore new strategies for avoidance, resistance and denial in the digital cultures of education. I track the movement from learning to labour to learning to leisure.


YouTubing: Challenging Traditional Literacies and Encouraging SelfOrganisation and Connecting in a Connectivist Approach to Learning in the K-12 System

Halvdan Haugsbakken and Inger Langseth


This article argues that a new research trajectory in the Connectivism debate should be open to the K-12 system, and that education should consider the Web 2.0 application YouTube as a pedagogical tool in learning. We aim to show that YouTube facilitates students’ self-organised learning in informal and formal education. YouTube is potentially a meaningful tool that teachers can use to enhance students’ competences and digitalise classroom practices. This relates foremost to how YouTube content has the potential to trigger social dynamics that activate students’ capacity to connect sources of user-generated content to cognitive awareness on a given concept. When given the opportunity, students can use this competence in formal educational contexts. This ability, we argue, is partially self-regulated by digitally skilled students, and teachers can direct the students in an academic direction when scaffolding the literacies involved. The article is based upon research carried out in a vocational class in English at secondary level in Norway.


Exploring dyslexia, literacies and identities on Facebook

Owen Barden


This paper examines the role of identities in underpinning and activating literacies learning in a small class of adolescent students labelled with dyslexia. It derives from a project in which teacher-researcher and student-participants co-constructed a Facebook group page about the students’ scaffolded research into dyslexia. The study investigated an apparent paradox: that although literacy demands are often cited as barriers to learning and participation for students labelled with dyslexia, social networking technologies seem to motivate at least some such students to willingly undertake significant amounts of reading and writing. Two interrelated potential explanations are investigated to attempt to resolve this paradox. Firstly, that the social and collaborative nature of Facebook literacy events and practices, which promotes a sense of shared identity amongst the participants, is itself motivating. Secondly, that identity strongly influences engagement with texts. Three intertwined strands of identity work emerged from analysis of the data. These three strands underpinned the students’ literacy events and practices. Each strand is elaborated, through reference to interview data and classroom dialogue. The study concludes that Facebook offered an affinity space in which the students inhabited projective identities which reciprocally shaped their literacy practices.