TMC6 Casa-Todd

Amplify Student Voice by Connecting Students to Each Other & the World

By Jennifer Casa-Todd

Reluctance to embrace the use of social media in the K-12 classroom and libraries
means there is limited research on the extent to which a guided approach to using
social media might support students in an educational context. This narrative inquiry
study focuses on the Ontario Educational Student Chat (ONedSschat) to determine the
extent to which students who were part of the organizing team developed increased
levels of student voice and agency. Data examined includes student tweets, archived
webinars, interviews with two adult mentors and one student, podcasts and webinars.
Teacher-Librarians can play a tremendous role in mentoring students develop student
voice by using a contextual approach like #ONedSschat (now #GlobalEdSschat)

Read the Paper

Jennifer Casa-Todd is wife, mom, a Teacher-Librarian in Ontario Canada, a former Literacy Consultant, a Google Certified Innovator, and the author of the books, Social LEADia and Raising Digital Leaders (Summer 2020). She is passionate about showing teachers and students how they can use technology and social media to make the world a better place.


  1. Hi Jennifer
    You have no idea how pleased I am to see your research in this area. There is a growing movement in my school division for schools to completely ban the use of personal digital devices in their classrooms. There is certainly no consideration to the voice of students when these decisions are made. When trying to counter this narrative, it's easy to find research on all the harm digital devices are doing to students but little research on the positive uses of the same devices. In education we speak of the importance of providing authentic learning experience which allow students to find their voices and develop agency. Yet educators are among the first to discount social media as a way for students to find this voice and become leaders of change in their communities. It's very interesting to see that Twitter, alone, is not the most powerful tool to use when creating this agency. The combination of Twitter and Youtube are much more powerful. Something to certainly keep in mind when working with students in the future. I also found it fascinating how your research shows that student willingness to speak and share their opinions improved over time. You have shown that with adequate supports
    "educational contexts can be transformed when students assume agency in initiatives and when their opinions are not just listened to but valued." Thank you for sharing your research with our library community who can play an important role in getting the message out that social media can and should be used for the greater good by students.

    1. Thank you for reading, Jo-Anne. I definitely agree that our role has such great potential for showing students how to use social media to learn and share learning, to connect to others, and to make a positive difference.

  2. Jennifer,

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your Masters of Education research. Those post-grad papers are products of blood, sweat, tears, and love!

    I'm not sure if I was surprised to discover via your paper that only 13% of classes use social media (page 3). When used deliberately, with care and attention paid to privacy issues, it can be so engaging and helpful to students, parents, and teachers. (But I'm preaching to the choir with that message, aren't I!)

    I hadn't encountered Mitra's research before, so the triangle of listening < collaborating < leading was an interesting one, and one that made sense.

    Scaffolding seems like such an important element in the ONedSsChat. As you described it on page 22, it's a gradual release of responsibility. The students' confidence and abilities increase, and then the teacher doesn't need to play as large a role.

    I nodded in agreement when I read (page 23) how even Masters degree students feel like they have more agency when they are allowed to co-create the study subject matter. This means that it has no age limit. This then could mean that educators would feel the same kind of empowerment if they were allowed to have a say in the type of PD they were given.

    How has the transition from ONedSsChat to GlobalEdSschat gone? Any differences now that it has a wider reach?

    Diana M

    1. Thanks for reading and responding, Diana (and for sticking through the entire paper!). I think your comparison to teacher PD is a very valid one and explains why personalized PD has taken hold in so many Districts (certainly this very exercise is an example of self-directed PD). Mentoring and scaffolding when using social media makes all the difference.
      As for the transition, it has gone mostly well. We had a student from Norway the first time, students from Misouri and Texas and our expert guest last month was from Kuwait.

  3. Thanks Jennifer,

    I'm wondering about how this fits in with instructing 1st year teacher candidates in Primary/Junior programs. Maybe it fits for when we teach younger students in a 'modelling/introduction' to social media.

    Greg Harris

    1. Hi Greg,
      Thanks so much for your question. One of the research findings of my Masters is that the modeling at younger ages is in fact the most effective. I used the theory of situated cognition as one of the underpinnings of my research which is all about created contexts for learning with social media and scaffolding the learning. I believe it necessary to look more closely at opportunities to instruct 1st year teacher candidates on a contextual approaches to meld content, digital literacies, and digital citizenship.

  4. Supporting students in "amplifying" their voices is an important aspect of developing students as persons--amplifying is such a powerful concept! Thank you, Jennifer. Dianne O

    1. Thank you for reading, Dianne. I am all about student voice and agree that it is crucial for kids to be able to articulate their opinions and ideas in public platforms as they develop their on and offline identities.

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  6. I have never thought about social media platforms as being "affinity" spaces! Nor had I thought about the aspect of multi-grade collaboration that is opened when you create a social media platform for students to communicate. Using social media as a mode of participatory learning really does carve up a new contextualization for learning outside of the classroom. Students are there because they want to be. They have more opportunities for learning from other perspectives, because there is a mix of students from different grade levels.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Jane. I so appreciate your comment and think that it speaks to my experiences in sharing this work. We seldomly look at the opportunities of using social media in the context of learning because we only associate it with entertainment or cyberbullying. And yet, research and experience tell me that even when students participate in the chat as an audience member, it helps to show them that social media can be a powerful tool for connecting.


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