Emily Connected presentation at HL2007 by Robert Hart

Fascinating presentation about a social networking service set up for primary age children. They’ve interviewed 12000! And from these they’ve selected about 6 (I think) as representative. The talk is about one of these, called Emily Connected. The social networking sites are superclub plus and goldstarclub.

These kids are using their phones to keep in touch, email, checkout the forums. A surprising amount considering their age. Emily is year 6 – so that makes her about 9 or 10. The findings he’s going through are fascinating – apparently most kids feel understretched at school, whereas Emily would prefer easier work at a slower pace (like 5% of kids so unusual). However in the online community, she’s really fast and active online

How productive is she?  She has four home pages and the one he displayed looked pretty professional. She’s sourced, prepared, uploaded and published 32 images and 15 icons. She edits her home page about 5 times a day and also contributes to her school’s webpage. She’s created her own clubs. 6268 people have visited her home page, and 544 visitors have signed her guest book.

The key thing about this seems to me to be the fact that Emily is in a protected online environment. At the very start Robert emphasized how carefully they looked after the children in this study.

Interesting analysis of her communication patterns. 61% of her communication is with children she’s never met.  100 kids list her as a best buddy. 21% communication with her friends from school, mostly girls, bt the kids she’s never met are both boys and girls.

They give stars for the various compentencies which map onto the school curriculum. Seems to demonstrate that this online social network is enabling a girl who says, of herself, that she prefers to learn easy stuff slowly, to develop key skills quickly and effectively.

Highlights a gap between ICT provision at school (low) and what the kids would actually like and, through this project, demonstrate that they would use by logging in at home.

Finished by saying: So, Emily might be slow at school but she’s a hurricane online. Talked about the “social learning dimension” which allows Emily to communicate and collaborate with a vast peer group to become a productive and effective publisher and communicator.

About Gill

Having worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, I have now semi-retired but retained my association with the OU as an Honorary Associate.
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