changing because of advances in technology. How we communicate with each other has changed dramatically with the implementation of powerful and popular social media platforms, 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 facilitate literacy development in teens and young adults.
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 English-dominated literacy landscape." 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,…