Social media provide opportunities for the production of content online and literacy practices that involve communication, publication and active participation. Children and young people are frequent writers in online digital environments in their leisure time. They develop experiences in digital communication and sharing of information, and they are creative in their use of language (e.g. Hård af Segerstad & Sofkova Hashemi, 2006; Crystal, 2009). Bringing social media arenas into the classroom, writing in school becomes increasingly visible, “real”, interactive and more of a dynamic process as opposed to print-based practice with the text as a static and linear artefact (Warschauer, 2010). Text messaging (SMS, chat) and status updates on blogs and web communities provide for an authentic form of text production where others can read and comment, shifting the focus to literacy as a social and cultural practice (Merchant, 2008). This multi-case study (Yin, 2012) explores online meaning-making and communicative practices in social media environment at three year-one-classes at three primary schools. Extending literacy practices with real-time interactive conversation online, the study focus is on the potentials of synchronous discussions for literacy learning in early years. In a cross-class project, the three classes conducted synchronous meetings, where the students in groups communicated in writing in the free service chat room Today’s Meet. Applying ethnographic methods, observations of the online communication and video recordings of the chat sessions conducted at each school comprise the data.Enabling learning connections beyond the boundary of classroom walls, the students exchanged information about their school culture (e.g. school lunches, activities during breaks), hobbies, films and computer games they like and on-going work in classes. In the synchronous text-dialogs the students were engaged in collaborative composing of the message. The cross-class interaction invited to further talk in the local classes about the message conveyed in the conversation, communicative structure and strategies how to address the recipient group. It also raised questions about the meanings of certain words, netiquette as well as the schools’ geographical location and peer’s cultural origin. A challenge with beginner readers was to keep up with the content thread of the online chat. In overall the study demonstrates the potential for early literacy education engaging students in online conversations developing awareness of audience, culture and social skills.References:Crystal, D. (2009). Txtng. The gr8 db8. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hård af Segerstad, Y., & Sofkova Hashemi, S. (2006). Learning to Write in the Information Age: A Case Study of Schoolchildren's Writing in Sweden. In L. Van Waes, M. Leijten & C. Neuwirth (Eds.), Writing and Digital Media. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Merchant, G. (2008). Digital writing in the early years. In M. K. J. Coiro, C. Lankshear & D. J. Leu (Eds.), The handbook of research in new literacies (pp. 751-774). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Warschauer, M. (2010). Invited Commentary: New Tools for Teaching Writing. Language Learning & Technology, 14(1), 3–8.Yin, R. K. (2012). Applications of Case Study Research. (3. ed.) Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.
EDULEARN14 Proceedings, 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Barcelona 7-9 July 2014