All Together Now


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In Media Res / MIT Comparative Media Studies Spring 2008 Issue

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All Together Now

  1. 1. P r o J e c T u P d aT e s all Together now By Erin Reilly, Project New Media Literacies Project Manager Engaging educators and not connected to each other,learners in today’s participatory while Julian’s list was organizedculture is the central goal of according to an expert’sProject New Media Literacies categories. With the two lists(NML). This Fall, NML modified together, the knowledge pooledthe current exemplar video was that much greater. When thelibrary to reflect more strongly girls were asked what Collectivethe theoretical framework laid Intelligence meant to them, oneout in our influential white paper, girl said, “all together” and they“Confronting the Challenges of all agreed.Participatory Culture: Media This low-tech group activityEducation for the 21st Century”. served as an introduction to theThis included tagging all the Exemplar Library. The groupvideos and learning activities then searched for the termto fit within the participatory NML worked with a focus group of five teen girls from the Youth Voice Collaborative ‘Collective Intelligence’ and aculture framework centered to put a newly-reworked Learning Library through its paces. video on Wikipedia appeared.around four Cs: how do we The learning activities arecreate, connect, communicate and collaborate. embedded into the multimedia material, and the cue-point is Kevin The Exemplar Library that was once documentary videos driscoll’s statement: “...And nobody owns that sand castle: you allhighlighting best practices of participatory culture is now an built it together, you’re all proud of it, and you all get the benefit ofintegrated set of learning activities embedded into multimedia each others’ work, so you really are relying on each other. Wikipediamaterial. In addition to videos, the Exemplar Library now has is like that sand castle, except no ocean is going to wash Wikipediaanimated data visualization, Flash movies, and other motion-based away.” At that point, the girls could have continued watching the videomedia as launching points. The learning library is a combination of or paused and stepped into the exemplar to participate in the onlineanalog and digital activities that teens can participate in both in and activity. Stepping in, they were introduced to the website,out of the classroom. This new informal approach to learning through where collective intelligence is used to make maps. The clip provided athe Exemplar Library encourages teens to move from passive viewing demonstration of how to make a map mash-up, and the girls began tointo interactive participation… and we saw just that in our first focus create their own of the semester. The girls worked in two groups of two, and one girl elected to Once we had a preliminary wireframe and some initial learning work on her own. Interestingly, both ‘working alone’ and ‘working inactivities integrated into the multimedia material, we pulled together a group’ had its drawbacks. For the kids who were in groups of two,our first focus group. The focus group, five teen girls from Youth Voice one of the girls tended to do the whole computer part, (though in bothCollaborative, described themselves as a group “trained to break down groups, the other girl didn’t seem to mind). The girl on her own hadmedia and then go out into the community and make things.” the drawback of not having anyone with whom to brainstorm and The first group activity was called “Stump the Expert”. This formulate a plan. Luckily, Julian, the adult facilitator, jumped in andactivity put their adult facilitator (“The Expert”) in the position to played that role, which is a good example of the informal mentorshipwork on his own and write down all that he knew about Caribbean that is a key trait in participatory culture.culture, his own stated expertise. While Julian was making his long The girls had a great time with the activity and a picture was takenlist, the girls collectively worked to jot anything they knew about of the whole group and posted on the YVC marker on their Platial.comCaribbean culture down on the board. When Julian came back into map. There was lots of laughing when they saw the picture. It’s a funthe room, he looked at the board and laughed, stating, “Wow. You guys picture. When asked if they would make these maps with their friends,got a lot.” He then showed the girls his paper and how he’d written they all answered with a resounding “Yes!”full sentences. He had started his list with the etymology of the word‘Caribbean’. lana swartz, an NML Research Assistant and the Focus For more information on the New Media Literacies Project, visit their websiteGroup Facilitator, remarked how starting out with the origin of a word at For more on the Youth Voice Collaborative, visitwas a really good example of what an expert does. The two lists were very different and very good in different ways.The one from the girls was totally random, filled with terms that were20 spring 2008 in medias res