Cape Breton University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Page: 5658 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
This research project is related to an initial Social Science and Humanities Research Council funded research project launched in Canada in 2011. The 2011 project which was presented at INTED 2013 resulted in the opening of a new line of inquiry into digital citizenship and online safety. As students spend more time in online affinity spaces dedicated to text creation and these new media are incorporated into teaching and learning in the classroom, it is important to more fully understand the potential and the inherent challenges represented by the convergence of new media, popular culture and participatory creative culture. Teachers must be aware of the digital landscape and the spaces in which students are living and learning. Students are active and engaged in participatory networks, creating and distributing messages and texts via online and interpersonal networks. With access to inexpensive tools for capturing, editing, and organizing young people have the ability to generate multimedia content to promote personal and political interests. Young people in unprecedented numbers are usurping traditional media content providers by utilizing video sharing sites, collaboratively sustained knowledge banks, and fan generated entertainment sites. This research is part of a larger project to understand the pedagogical response to such unprecedented developments in students' literacy practices. It is important to more fully understand the role of text creation in participatory creative cultures and to allow teachers to better prepare students to be critical of the media they consume while creating supportive, affirming and safe learning communities in which to develop important digital literacy and new media skills. Digital media theorist Howard Rheingold calls for a participative pedagogy which focuses on guiding literacies essential to life in the 21st century. Educators are just beginning to ask what this participative pedagogy looks like, and an important first step to more fully understand the space of online participatory media.

This paper presents the results of research in which student participants (aged18-25) were asked to complete an online survey to determine the nature of their experience when creating texts in online affinity spaces (i.e. Tumblr, Deviant Art, etc.) The survey attempted to determine: the characteristics of online text creation spaces and how they are similar or different from each other; the experiences of students while creating in these spaces; and how participants use privacy and control features of the sites to influence the climate within the affinity space and mitigate the participation of other members of the site. The research attempts to understand the strategies young people employ to construct their personal networked spaces to facilitate communication, participation and to harness collective intelligence to enhance their own literacy practices.

Secondary literacy development, New Literacies, digital media, participatory culture, affinity spaces.