Journal Articles

Social networking sites, literacy, and the authentic identity problem

University of Idaho
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Current interest in social media for educational purposes has led many to consider the importance of literacy development in online spaces (e.g., new media literacies, digital literacies, etc.). Relying heavily upon New Literacy Studies (NLS) as a base, these approaches treat literacy expansively to include socio-cultural factors beyond mere skill acquisition and behavior modification. Within such expansive views, we need to better understand the relationship between identity and social participation within online spaces. In particular, we need to better understand issues of identity and literacy within social networking sites (SNS) and consider how embedded values of such media influence social participation and identity construction within them. A problem exists, however, because most prominent SNS rely upon an authentic identity model of participation that is interpreted in an essentialist manner and is contradictory to NLS views of identity. In this paper, I highlight the complexities of this issue, identify the authentic identity problem, and offer some beginning remarks for working through this problem of developing literacy in a medium while utilizing a model that may contradict the medium’s assumptions.

Kimmons, R. (2014). Social networking sites, literacy, and the authentic identity problem. TechTrends, 58(2), 93-98.

Using a ludic simulation to make learning of middle school space science fun

University of Idaho
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In this paper, we describe a ludic simulation designed for middle school space science and examine its use to support students’ learning and motivation. The participants were 383 sixth graders and 447 seventh graders. The findings of this study showed that sixth- and seventh- graders perceived the simulation as having substantial ludic characteristics and educational value. The results indicated that having a playful experience is important for this age group and that participating in a ludic simulation can help motivate students to learn school subjects. Results also indicated that incorporating ludus into the learning experience can improve students’ attitudes toward the subject matter. Implications of policy, research, and practice with regard to using ludic simulations to support classroom-based learning were discussed.

Liu, M., Horton, L., Kang, J., Kimmons, R., and Lee, J. (2013).Using a ludic simulation to make learning of middle school space science fun. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 5(1), 66-86.

Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: Expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization

University of Idaho
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Researchers and practitioners have suggested that the use of social networking sites in formal education may be a worthwhile endeavor. Toward this goal, emerging learning platforms have included social networking features. Nevertheless, empirical literature examining user experiences, and more specifically instructor experiences, with these tools is limited. In this qualitative study, we address this gap in the literature by reporting the experiences of five instructors who used a social networking platform in their courses. We find that instructors (a) had expectations of Elgg that stemmed from numerous sources, (b) used Elgg in heterogeneous ways and for varied purposes, (c) compartmentalized Elgg and used it in familiar ways, and (d) faced frustrations stemming from numerous sources. We note that the ways Elgg came to be used “on the ground” is contested and contrasts starkly with the narrative of how social software might contribute benefits to educational practice. In addition, we note that learning management systems may frame the ways through which other tools, such as social media and Elgg, are understood, used, and experienced.

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., and French, K. (2013). Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: Expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization. Educational Technology Research & Development, 61(2), 255-278.

Scholars and faculty members’ lived experiences in online social networking systems

University of Idaho
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Research into faculty members' use of technology and social networking sites has largely focused upon pedagogical practice, at the expense of understanding user experiences with these technologies. Through phenomenological interviews with three faculty members, we investigate their lived experiences with social networking sites. Results point to a tension that exists between personal connection and professional responsibility, revolving around the essences of faculty members establishing personal and professional boundaries, maintaining appropriate and meaningful connections, structuring participation so that others see them in a certain light, and using their time efficiently. These findings highlight the synergies and tensions between online social networks and faculty identity: While social networking sites can be used for professional purposes, faculty members may resist or reject the values embedded in such tools, which they feel may impact the ways that they perceive themselves, their teaching, and their research.

Veletsianos, G., and Kimmons, R. (2013). Scholars and faculty members’ lived experiences in online social networking systems. The Internet and Higher Education, 16, 43-50.

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