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Discussion and reflection from #WalkMyWorld 2014

Following the 2014 iteration of the #WalkMyWorld Project, several researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association. The following takeways came from that session.

The #WalkMyWorld project highlighted the spaces provided by collaborative technologies for participants to engage in meaning-making in order to release the harnessed potential of said technologies. Exposing various lifeworlds through multiple modes gave students a greater opportunity to communicate and model civic engagement with the world at large, noting specifically that no learner can passively engage with others because the “spaces for community life where local and specific meaning can be made” are collaborative civic centers viewed, modified, and analyzed by all (New London Group, 1996, p. 70).

The transparency of mediums used also emphasized the importance of using open technologies to make information readily available. A civic understanding of knowledge as privilege, and the subsequent free-sharing of experience to the #WalkMyWorld project, enhanced participants’ understanding of the power of their multimodal contributions. Collectively, the shared singular experiences engaged all involved and encourage co-production of a newly formed community. As such, by exposing separate lifeworlds, themes of singularity can be identified and, perhaps, related to collectively in order to connect with others.

Image CC by gilad at http://gilad.deviantart.com/art/The-work-of-an-artist-36255180

Image CC by gilad at http://gilad.deviantart.com/art/The-work-of-an-artist-36255180

Other themes and findings included:

“You Want me to Tweet What?” – Empowering readers and writers of the Internet
Teachers worked collectively online to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to construct online information. Students expressed themselves and their identity as an educator to act as critical readers and writers of online information. Affordances and understanding of specific digital texts and tools provided some challenges as teachers worked to complete the goals of the project.Results from this study explore the nature of online information and educational opportunities that are created when teachers work on synthesizing discourses of online information to create identity representations (Tierney et al., 1997; Bolter, 1991; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004). Skills proved integral to the way teachers viewed themselves as professionals in online and hybrid educational spaces (Henry, Castek, O’Byrne, & Zawilinski, 2012).
The best MOOCs are accidental: #WalkMyWorld and #ConnectedLearning
This study utilized a content analysis approach that was directive and summative in nature. As a directive approach the pathways, pics, and poems, that were shared were analyzed using Connected Learning as a guiding theory. The study also used summative approached by tringulating findings using analytics saved from a Database of all tweets sent using the #WalkMyWorld hashtag (Hawkseye, TAGS 5.0).
The results describe phenomenon that offer supporting and non-supporting alignment to Connected Learning. Data from summative analytics suggest that #WalkMyWorld did have numerous portals of entry and levels of expertise. However cohesive themes found in images shared by participants and power dynamics between students and teachers did not fully support the theory of open spaces and academic focus. Results from this study help to illustrate the power of analytics in the analysis of online learning spaces. The study also describes the evolution of informal learning in formal learning.
Most telling results of the study involve sugestions for distributed learning. The trouble with MOOCS (drop-out, transfer, etc.) maybe alleviated from a more horizatonal rather than a strictly vertical approach. Most MOOCs have a centralized instructor. The success of #walkmnyworld was found in the use of both global and local expertise. A small group organized learning events but these were then modified by instructors on th ground while students interacted in a variety of fluid networks.
Image CC by gilad at http://gilad.deviantart.com/art/Splash-Of-Youth-34023326

Image CC by gilad at http://gilad.deviantart.com/art/Splash-Of-Youth-34023326

“Get a life(world)!”: Expanding Perspectives of Narrative Writing

Students worked on a semester-long narrative which required them to submit weekly compositions to the #WalkMyWorld project. Using any preferred medium, they shared portions of their lifeworlds, all of which were compiled into longer, narrative responses at the end of the semester. Blog posts also served as extended weekly response opportunities to analyze submissions.

    Results from the project explore the students’ abilities to critically understand, question, and evaluate how media work and produce meaning – media literacies – as a result of integrating various technologies and perspectives to share their lifeworld narratives (Chauvin, 2003). Aggregated submissions allowed each student to submit a multimodal “longitudinal version of Self” (Bruner, 1990, p. 120). The free construction of medium used throughout the #WalkMyWorld project mirrored the expected format of constructing narrative writing that most students negate. Expanding their perspectives of narrative writing through the use of familiar technologies allowed them to share and develop (a) writing lifeworlds, (b) communities of inquiry, (c) media literacies and (d) expanded perspectives of narrative writing.
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