Participatory cultures - a pilot study on HE students
Participatory Cultures - a PilotStudy on HE Students’ Digital Literacy Palitha Edirisingha, Tracy Simmons and DimitrinkaAtanasova University of Leicester 16 May 2012 A research project funded by the College of Social Sciences
Research Aims• To identify HE students’ access to and the use of digital technologies and web 2.0 tools for their formal and informal learning in HE.• To identify their level of media literacy, awareness and to develop strategies for addressing gaps in levels of literacy.• To make recommendations for supporting students to further develop their competencies with online information.
Methods• Questionnaire surveys of 100 undergraduate and postgraduate students to identify their ownership of and use of digital devices and web 2.0 tools – First round (2010-11) returned: 53 – Second round (2011-12): returned 41• Focus groups (4) with students (3 – 4 in each group) to gain a deeper insight into their use of web 2.0 tools in a learning context – First round (2010-11) 3 groups (10 students in total) – Second: 1 group of 3 students• Workshops with students to develop and validate appropriate online activities and learning tools to improve their level of web awareness and literacy.
Key Theoretical Concepts Participatory culture Online affinity spaces Digital / media literacy
Participatory CulturesJenkins et al (2008) ‘participatory culture’: – ‘a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed to novices’ (p. 3).
Participatory Cultures• It is also: ‘one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at least they care about what other people think about what they have created).’ (p. 3).• Access to such a participatory culture has a number of beneficial effects for learners including: opportunities for peer to peer learning, the diversification of cultural expression, development of skills valued in modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship (Jenkins et al, 2008).
Participatory cultures• Participatory cultures as supporting the emergence of self-directed learning activities beyond formal educational contexts (Francis 2011)• HE students between ‘a top down culture- industry model of education (associated with mass media) and an emergent web-based participatory culture (associated with new media)’ (Francis 2011, p. 21).
Online affinity spaces (Gee, 2004)• As a critique of the applicability of Wenger’s (1998) ‘Communities of Practice’ to online communities. ‘New comers’ learning from ‘old timers’.• The importance of ‘space in which people interact, rather than on a membership in a community’ (Gee 2004, p. 77).• ‘Start by talking about spaces rather than “communities”’ (ibid, p. 78)
Online Affinity Spaces• … ‘particular type of space’ to describe the nature and patterns of online interactions facilitated by technological tools.• having both ‘content’ and ‘interactional’ dimensions.
Literacy / literacies?• Participatory cultures is argued by Jenkins, (2008) and see also *Ryberg and Dirckinck-Holmfield (2010) are ‘transferable’ to the academic context.• *Locating multiple sources, aggregation of material, editing and revision of material, critical reflection and evaluation.• Our research highlights some of these elements but there is a variation amongst students and still a need to focus on the ‘critical’ in their understanding of online sources.
UK Policy• Policy concerns:• Digital Britain Report (2009), sets out the strategy of the government in placing technology at the centre of the UK’s economic recovery, but in doing it recognises the importance of people having the ‘.. capabilities and skills to flourish in the digital economy’ (DCMS, 2009: 1).
UK Policy• Media literacy is ‘the ability to use, understand and create media and communications in a variety of contexts’ (Ofcom, 2011b)Ofcom (2011b). UK adults’ media literacy. London: Ofcom.
Higher Education• Prof. Sir David Melville (2009) Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience.• Research commissioned by this committee, into the use of web 2.0 in HE by academics, found that though students in HE may well be pervasive users of social networking sites, blogs, virtual environments and other multi-media forms, but they lacked deep critical skills to analyse and validate information on-line.
HEJISC defines digital literacy as those capabilities whichequip an individual for living, learning and working in adigital society (JISC LLiDA, 2009).11 For example: the use ofdigital tools to undertake academic research, writingand critical thinking; digital professionalism; the use ofspecialist digital tools and data sets; communicating ideaseffectively in a range of media; producing, sharing andcritically evaluating information; collaborating in virtualnetworks; using digital technologies to support reflectionand personal development planning; and managing digitalreputation and showcasing achievements.(Knight, 2011:8)
Please go to the following URL andview / download the data from the 2010-2011 questionnaire survey http://goo.gl/kraQFAnd next three slides based on 2011 - 2012 data
Ownership of computer and other digital devices (% reporting) 2012 data 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Desktop 35 laptop 100Smartphone 82.5 Phone 17.5 Camera 92.5 MP3Player 87.5 Tablet 42.5 eReader 10GameDevice 25 2012 data set 1, n = 40
Devices used to access internet during term-time (% reporting) 2012 data 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 UniComputer 85 OwnComputer 100 MobilePhone 77.5 [55% in 2011] iPodTouch 7.5 OtherDevices 10 Tablet 25 2012 data set 1, n = 40
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Update SNS Watch Television Listen to radioFrequency of using Web 2.0 tools and activities – 2012 data Write blog Use SBMS Contribute to wikis Play video games Download / share music Use 3-D virtual worlds Missing Chat (e.g., MSN) VOIP Rarely/never Share digital photographs Sometimes Share videos Record own music Frequently Mix music Make graphic art Contribute to bulletin boards Microblogging Subscribe to RSS feeds Programming Selling on ebay Online shopping Online banking Use ‘Apps’
International Dimension• Students are embedded in virtual structures from their country of origin and therefore bring them with them whilst studying at Leicester.• Baidu, ICIBA, Renren• QQ small group work (language familiarity)• no limits to size of groups, quick and easy.• Inclusions/exclusions-Google Wave
Participatory Culture• ‘Participatory culture’ book review recommendations, Yahoo answers, Baidu answers.• Instant message, to contact peers.• But contested notions of ‘quality’ and ‘authority’ related to peer to peer information.• In general a sense of what is an ‘academic’ source and what is not.
Participatory Culture• Creators? Students in our sample keep updated blogs, contribute and comment on other blogs.• Reflexivity, students use these blogs as way to reflect on their own experience as learners.• Share and reflect on their experiences as overseas students. They often get responses and comments on their blogs.
Authority and Status• YouTube: for one participant useful basis for preparing an essay, other participants reject it as not an academic sources they can ‘use’ or ‘untrustworthy’.• Wikipedia, some sense of the limitations of this information, but it is often a starting place for background information and to follow up references.• See The Guardian, Economist, BBC as ‘reliable’ information they can refer to.• Dominance of Google infrastructure: Google Scholar, Google Dictionary, Google Wave Google Books.
Resources• Reflections from the workshop• Students pooled a huge array of online sources, some (not all) in their first language, familiarity from their country of origin.• They do however, develop new sources as a result of their study, some through tutor recommendations others through peers.• Some gaps in their knowledge e.g. primary and secondary sources.
Recommendations and thoughts• The cultural context of media literacy needs to be focused on more closely.• Participatory cultures vary-Jenkins very much rooted in US and particular types of activities online (gaming for example).• As learners and teachers we need to recognise this cultural context.• Provide direction and intervention (where there is scant access to physical books, the web is seen as a solution). Not all students have the ability to determine good quality sources online.• Do students need a PLE?
Finally…• Vertical and horizontal space of the new media environment raises a number if challenges• Expert and ‘non-expert’ information• Moving across ‘expert’ or ‘academic’ information that flows downwards: reading lists, Library e- link, alongside peer to peer (horizontal) information.• Seamless spaces on-line QQ, off-line: group study rooms in the library.• Students have useful mobile technology an iPhone provides multiple uses: mini photocopier, access web material, arrange group meetings etc.