This panel will address how the power of social networking can be harnessed for educational purposes by focusing on youth engagement on a private, international social network (www.space2cre8.com) connecting adolescents in five countries. In particular, it will explore how youth built the social network with unfamiliar peers from different cultures and worked toward developing the technological and dispositional competencies needed to participate critically in a global world.
Drawing on quantitative and qualitative records from the social network’s custom analytics site as well as ethnographic data of 275 users over 2 years, the first presentation by Glynda Hull, Amy Stornaiuolo, and Kate Frankel, “Skimmers, miners, and confounders: Understanding the participation spectrum on an international social network,” will examine adolescents’ participation on Space2Cre8 as a continuum, attending particularly to different kinds of active “non-use” of the website (Satchell & Dourish, 2009) in an attempt to explore “invisible forms of literacy that occur in digital domains” (Warschauer, 2009, p. 139). The second presentation by Ola Erstad, “Navigating ‘Space2cre8’ in a classroom setting: Socio-spatial studies of learning among multiethnic youth in Norway,” draws on socio-spatial studies of learning and literacy (Comber & Nixon, 2009; Nunes, 2006; Leander, Phillips & Taylor, 2010) to understand how 29 Norwegian 8th grade students used a social networking site in a classroom setting over the course of an academic year to manifest different cultural identities as they built relationships with others over the network and in the classroom. The third presentation, “New Rights Collective: Imagining school, community, and the world through the arts” by John Scott and Sean Turner, examines a summer program that offered at-risk high school students in New York City the opportunity to engage in creative and critical work focused on imagining global citizenship through local perspectives. They argue for the importance of providing students with opportunities to utilize Web 2.0 technologies to open new doors for self-exploration within artistic enterprise. Finally, in the fourth presentation, “Budju Sisters: Co-constructing communication and representation through shared literacy,” Nora Kenney draws on notions of socially shared cognition (Brown & Cole, 2000) to explore how Aboriginal adolescent girls relied on scaffolded collaboration as a means to participate in the social networking global phenomenon. Kenney examines how students in the Australian Outback relied on other Space2Cre8 participants–in the same room and around the world–to navigate an unfamiliar virtual space and compose texts and identities appropriate to that context.