Questioning Social Media in the Adult Literacy Classroom


In Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally, current adult literacy and numeracy assessment is skills oriented; at the same time, there is a growing interest in more balanced understanding by also looking at the broad wellbeing-related outcomes of literacy education. In the research project reported below adult literacy learners in three community literacy programmes were invited to join a class Facebook group to describe the everyday outcomes of their literacy learning. The article focuses on the use of Facebook within the broader study. It discusses a range of privacy and technology challenges as well as learner engagement with Facebook in the classroom context, raising some significant questions about its value. The article explores recent theories of context and their pedagogical relevance. It concludes with implications for social media in adult literacy teaching and learning, aiming to involve marginalised adults in critical inquiry that builds their identity as informed participants in civic life.

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  1. 1.

    In the adult literacy field, learner and tutor are the commonly used terms.


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We would like to express our gratitude to the literacy organisations, tutors and learners in our research; to our Literacy Aotearoa partners, especially Bronwyn Yates, Peter Isaacs and Katrina Taupo; and to our funder, the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative, New Zealand Council for Educational Research (Grant No. 9166).

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Correspondence to Judy Hunter.

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Hunter, J., Furness, J. Questioning Social Media in the Adult Literacy Classroom. NZ J Educ Stud 55, 149–163 (2020).

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  • Adult literacy
  • Social media
  • Context
  • Diversity