The Impact of Social Networking and a Multiliteracies Pedagogy on English Language Learners’ Writer Identities


  • Janette Michelle Hughes University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Laura Morrison University of Ontario Institute of Technology



writing, English Language Learners, Social Networking Sites, Ning, multiliteracies, identity, poetry


This study examined the impact of using a multiliteracies pedagogy and the social networking site (SNS), Ning, to help 6th grade English language learners (ELLs) develop their writer identities, with the purpose of increasing the students’ confidence, sense of self, and language and literacy skills. To this end, we were interested in whether and how the development of a writer identity and an increase in social presence on the Ning would translate into face-to-face connections in the physical classroom and an induction into the academic learning community – a space in which the students may have previously felt intimidated. In doing this, we employed a qualitative case study analysis to investigate the experiences of two ELLs at an elementary school in Toronto, Canada. Our study found that incorporating multimodal tools and an SNS allowed the students to more freely express themselves; to share their work and their personalities with peers, which made the writing assignments more meaningful and engaging; and provided a platform for students to negotiate their values and beliefs. Ultimately, the increased interactions with peers online and the development of this new English-language literate identity translated into the development of students’ individual voices, a sense of ownership of English, and an increased social presence in the classroom.

Author Biographies

Janette Michelle Hughes, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Associate Professor & Assistant Dean Faculty of Education.

Laura Morrison, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Laura Morrison is currently completing her M.A. in Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She teaches an Information Communications Technology course to teacher candidates in the B.Ed. program at the same university. Her research interests include how technology can be used to engage otherwise disengaged students in the English language arts classroom – improving not only students’ traditional literacy skills, but also their new literacy skills, confidence, and sense of identity.


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How to Cite

Hughes, J. M., & Morrison, L. (2014). The Impact of Social Networking and a Multiliteracies Pedagogy on English Language Learners’ Writer Identities. Writing and Pedagogy, 6(3), 607–631.



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