Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Teens as Web 2.0 Experts

October 16th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Web 2.0, first defined by Tim O’Reilly, is supposed to “deliver software…that gets better the more people use it…”  (emphasis, mine.)   ( newsletter, 2005.) I would argue then that for students the meaning and relevance of online content and resources will increase the more they themselves are authors and contributors of its content.

Recently, our library (Vancouver Public Library) adopted a new OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue), Bibliocommons, to provide library patrons with an online, interactive catalogue to create opportunity for user-generated content as well as a virtual community gathering space. This software is multifaceted, but in relation to our topic and reading this week, it supports teens in our community to engage with the library collection in such a way that through their own content creation (book reviews, tags, booklists and “bookshelves”)  they become “experts” of their own collection.

Many scholars and critics argue that Web 2.0 refers not to a second generation of technology, but to a new generation of cultural philosophy toward how we engage with these these technologies. (Potts, David A., 2012). This is an understanding to which I am aligned, and I believe that teens have led the way in this cultural shift.  The prevalence of teens reading and authoring online allows them to share their writings and opinions with a real audience in a significant and I would argue, rewarding, way.  They are instantly “authors”, “published” and valued (through inferred readership) for their opinions and recommendations.  This alone can act as encouragement to continue writing and reading for both personal and academic purposes  (Schreyer, 2012.) and is motivation enough for we as educators to support our learners’ engagement with Web 2.0 technologies.

It is critical that we acknowledge young adults as both experts and pioneers in the field, of Web 2.o and consider what we can learn from them on this subject. How can their participation in the architecture of Web 2.0 inform our pedagogical approach and professional development?

One such way I have chosen to do this (which can be implemented in a classroom setting) is I have stopped using “adult” and “professional” book lists to promote titles on my Teen Reads bulletin board in my Teen Section of the branch. I will only post teen written reviews (that have been created by youth, and shared on the Bibliocommons site), as well as genre/theme Booklists which I compile by searching tags created within the site.   This is a way to blend traditional library research tools (the catalogue and Library of Congress subject headings) with new literacies/social media (user generated tags) to provide services and resources to teens, through a teen-centric, teen-created lens.

This allows me to empower teens by demonstrating a commitment to a Teen-Led (library lingo) approach to services. These services are authentic and appreciated by teens because instead of my acting in a traditional authoritative role I am now acting more as a conduit of sorts, supporting the delivery and dissemination of content and information from groups of teens to others in their demographic, thus supporting them to become their own meaning-makers and experts in how they engage with resources.



(Check him out if you are not familiar with his work; he is integral in the fight for Open Source Software and resources, which is increasingly important for educators and students, alike!)

David, Potts A. Cyperlibel: Information Warfare in the 21st Century? Toronto, Canada: Irwin Law Inc., 2011. Print.

Schreyer, Jessica. “Adolescent Literacy Practices Online.” New Media Literacies and Participatory Popular Culture Across Borders. New York: Routledge, 2012. 61-73. Print.

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1 response so far ↓

  • TMD // Oct 17th 2012 at 2:22 pm

    You offer some great ideas here, Maya! Another consideration, moving forward from your notion of having students read reviews by other kids, is to ask students to write their own reviews and join the online conversation (if appropriate permissions can be obtained for posting to outside sites).

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