|dc.description.abstract||New technologies have led to changes in teaching pedagogy. Among the digital technologies introduced into classrooms are software packages, such as Moodle, which are designed to offer online learning environments. More recently, New Zealand schools are also using social network sites (SNS) such as Facebook for learning (NZ Teachers Council, 2013). Yet, social network sites have been identified as spaces for identity experimentation and impression management for young people (boyd, 2008). Furthermore, the co-opting of students’ “social space” for educational purposes, and the presence of the teacher, blurs the boundary between public and private.
This thesis documents the ways in which a group of New Zealand students negotiate their identities on a class Facebook page. I examine the way one teacher and her class use Facebook as an online learning environment, the way a group of students from the class negotiate their identities on Facebook, and what the educational presence on Facebook means for students and teachers. Operating from a poststructuralist framework, I conceptualise identity as a fluid process and recognise the discursive constructions that shape identity. I compliment this approach with Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical analogy of the front-stage and back-stage performances of identity, which allows for consideration of the public/private influences on identity. Literature regarding SNS often explores either SNS and education, or SNS and identity. I situate this thesis between the two fields, drawing together the use of Facebook for education and identity negotiation.
I conducted a two-part qualitative research study in a New Zealand urban, mid-decile school. In the first phase of data collection, I interviewed nine Year 13 students and their teacher, about their personal and educational experiences of using Facebook. In the second phase of data collection, I observed the participants’ online interactions on the class page to supplement these reported experiences. Drawing upon discourse analysis, the findings were analysed and are presented in two parts: to explore the way the class used Facebook for educational purposes, and to explore the way students negotiate their identities on Facebook.
The teacher and student participants’ perceptions of the affordances offered by Moodle and a Facebook Page determined how they used these platforms. Whilst Moodle remained the resource repository, Facebook was used for interactive communications. Although the teacher hoped for a collaborative learning community, traditional teacher-student relationships of the classroom were replicated on the Facebook page, affecting the students’ online presence and interactions. The students crafted their digital identities on Facebook through performative acts such as deciding which information was revealed or associated with their personal profiles, and to which audience. They applied Facebook’s technical affordances, such as account settings, to control their digital presentations. Findings indicate that the educational use of Facebook affected the students’ identity performances, with the participants aware of the teacher’s presence and her expectations of their behaviour on the page. For most students, the benefits offered by the Facebook page outweighed the tensions caused by the blurring of private/public spaces.
This study provides insights into the reciprocal influences of identity negotiation and the use of the class Facebook page. It provides knowledge about the way young New Zealanders use Facebook to craft digital identities, and the way one teacher and class use Facebook for educational purposes. While Facebook offers opportunities for educational use, there are still issues worthy of consideration, such as equitable access opportunities, clearer guidelines for teachers and students, and the requirements for a collaborative learning environment.||