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How do adolescents perceive the participatory potential of the Internet?


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Presentation at ECER 2013, Istanbul 10th September 2013

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How do adolescents perceive the participatory potential of the Internet?

  1. 1. How do adolescents perceive the participatory potential of the Internet? An study on teens’ attitudes towards participation and content creation. Maria Ranieri* and Alessia Rosa** *University of Florence, **University of Turin Istanbul, 10th September 2013
  2. 2. Background The raise of participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006) • Emphasis on the potential of the Internet as a means of increasing young people’s participation (Bennett, 2007; Pettingill, 2007). • Internet, especially Web 2.0 and social networks, viewed as a technology enabling participatory aptitudes and facilitating content sharing and creation: from discussing in a web forum to creating content in a wiki, from sharing useful resources to using information in every field of life – education, politics, economy, society.
  3. 3. Background However, some studies have questioned the enthusiasm in the participatory power of the Internet For example, • Livingstone et al. (2005) found that interactive uses of the Internet are encouraged by the very experience of using it but that engagement with civic resources depends primarily on demographic factors. • Hargittai and Walejko (2008) found that despite new opportunities to engage in such distribution of content, relatively few people are taking advantage of these recent developments.
  4. 4. Research questions How do students perceive the potential of the Internet for online participation? What are their attitudes towards online participation? • How to represent the concept of online participation? • How to assess young people’s attitudes toward the potential of the Internet for online participation?
  5. 5. Procedures and Methods Step 1. Development of a conceptual framework to represent the notion of online participation Step 2. Development and validation of a tool for assessing participatory attitudes Step 3. Survey based on the participatory attitudes’ tool, including a questionnaire on socio-demographic aspects Step 4. Focus group
  6. 6. Conceptual framework Identification of four levels of online social “proximity” according to criteria such as • Openness vs Closeness • Strong vs Weak ties • Active vs Passive involvement
  7. 7. Conceptual framework Level 1: Crowd - is completely public Level 2: Network – is semi-public Level 3: Community - is semi-private Level 4: Collaborative - is a private space
  8. 8. Conceptual framework Level 1: Crowd • Conceptual sources – Close to the idea of crowd as “a ‘lightweight’ collaborative structure”, where people are interconnected by weak ties: crowdsourced projects don’t require knowing others and working with them directly as a prerequisite for participation (eg, OpenStreetMap) (Haythornthwaite, 2011).
  9. 9. Conceptual framework Level 2: Network • Conceptual sources – Inspired to the idea of social networking sites defined as a category of websites where individual users create their public or semi-public profiles, list connections with others (friends, followers or buddies) and traverse the site through their own and others’ friend lists forming a public networked space (boyd & Ellison, 2007).
  10. 10. Conceptual framework Level 3: Community • Conceptual sources – Goes back to the notion of virtual communities defined by Rheingold as “social aggregations that emerge from the [Internet] when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace" (1993, p. 5) – Commons interests, public discussions, conviviality, interaction…
  11. 11. Conceptual framework Level 4: Collaborative (groups) • Conceptual sources – Inspired to the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) approach based on small groups of people (5-7 members) working on the achievement of the same goal through strong interactions, social negotiation and the use of technologies (see e.g. Koschmann et al., 1992).
  12. 12. Assessment Tool • A telling stories approach has been adopted as a method to explore people’s values (Marradi, 1996; Trinchero, 2011). • Each item is formulated as a story and the respondent is requested to take a position in front of a small dilemma. • To test the instrument a sample of stories was administered to a group of secondary school students aged 16-18. • A panel of experts analyzed the items and provided feedback on validity
  13. 13. Assessment Tool Level 1: Crowd Indicators • Being available to share personal views/opinions/ratings • Being interested in considering and trusting in views/opinions/ratings by others • Making public the access to self-produced contents No. of items 3
  14. 14. Assessment Tool Level 1: Crowd Example During the festival of the independent cinema, Isabella convinces Andrea and Luca to see a film directed by an African Director about the wars for the control the diamonds’ extraction. Surprisingly the film excited them. The movie is scheduled in a small cinema which, however, has an interesting website where people can rate the films and evaluate them. Luca is determined to provide and disseminate his positive feedback, since the film is barely advertised and run in a few rooms, so others will be intrigued or maybe they're going to see it. Andrea instead thinks it's just a waste of time because no one will read or will trust his judgment. According to you which one is right? Andrea Luca
  15. 15. Assessment Tool Level 2: Network Indicators • Being available to share resources within his/her own social network • Sharing his/her personal contacts • Connecting people and resources No. of items 3
  16. 16. Assessment Tool Level 2: Network Example While writing the science essay, Simona has managed to create a collection of websites on the topic and has decided to publish it on the blog of Luca who collects and share digital learning resources. According your point of view, Simona is right because this could be of help for some other students. Simona is wrong because the sites she identified are public, so everyone can seek them for themselves rather than using things are done by others.
  17. 17. Assessment Tool Level 3: Community Indicators • Being a member of a community • Engaging with mentoring • Respecting rules and the others No. of items 3
  18. 18. Assessment Tool Level 3: Community Example Jonathan is very skilled in understanding how software and computer applications work, so he decides to create and share online a list of the best freeware video- editing programs and produces a number of useful tutorials. According to your opinion, Jonathan is very generous and is right in sharing his ability with other people Jonathan is just an egocentric person… Actually, if he has a skill, he should take it for himself!
  19. 19. Assessment Tool Level 4: Collaborative (groups) Indicators • Being available to work with others to achieve a common goal • Taking responsibilities and roles • Contributing to the work group in an active way No. of items 3
  20. 20. Assessment Tool Level 4: Collaborative (groups) Example Beatrice, Luca, Simone, Roberto and Maria are great fans of Lady Gaga and decide to develop together a Wikipedia page. At this purpose, they plan for different roles and responsibilities with some of them presenting her biography, others searching for images and others for music. In their view, this is the only way to achieve the goal in a complete manner. According to your opinion Hardily the final result will be satisfactory as someone will work more and some less: since there is no grade, there will be different levels of contribution. • Only by working together the final result will be satisfactory since there is so much material. Satisfaction is given by the result and the accuracy of the work.
  21. 21. Participants (=163)
  22. 22. Preliminary results Note: 1=low; 2=medium; 3=high; 4=very high
  23. 23. Preliminary results • Overall respondents show participatory attitudes toward the use of the Internet: for each level they mostly preferred participatory behaviours • However, it seems that they prefer sharing and being in a network rather than engaging in collaborative work within small groups
  24. 24. Preliminary results Being a member of a community Level 1: Crowd Level 2: Network Level 3: Community Level 4: Collaborative Level 2: Network
  25. 25. Preliminary results • Respondents revealed a participatory approach to the Internet, particularly in the sense of sharing contacts (semi- public dimension, networking) and being engaged in both weak and strong ties (crowd and community). • At the same time, participation as active contribution seems to be less common in their understanding of the potential of the Internet: they are less enthusiastic about sharing self- productions and engaging in collaborative work. • Moreover, they declared their positive attitudes towards helping other people through mentoring and sustaining behaviours.
  26. 26. • It seems confirmed the tendency to perceive the potential of the Internet for sharing rather than producing with others. This could mean that the creative potential of the Internet is not completely seized by teens. • There seems to be an inconsistency between their avalilability towards mentoring (which is an active behaviour) and their tendency to perceive the Internet as a tool for sharing rather than producing (which si also an active behaviour). However, mentoring refers more to strong ties than active behaviours. Conclusions
  27. 27. • Improving the tool to increasy its validity through further surveys and consultations with experts. • Exploring possible correlations between socio-demographic characteristics (such as parents background) and attitudes towards online participation • Exploring possible correlations between current uses of the Internet and attitudes towards online participation • Exploring possible correlations between age and attitudes towards online participation Future research
  28. 28. Related Studies & Projects Studies on Digital Competences Assessment such as • Calvani A., Fini A., Ranieri M., Picci P. (2012). Are young generations in secondary school digitally competent? A study on Italian teenagers. COMPUTERS & EDUCATION, vol. 58, pp. 797-807. • Y. Li, M. Ranieri (2010). Are ‘digital natives’ really digitally competent? A Study on Chinese Teenagers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 6, pp. 1029-1042.
  29. 29. Related Studies & Projects
  30. 30. Thank you! Correspondent Author