Beyond the classroom: Learning in online communities.

Presentor: Matt Rafalow, Crystle Martin, Shree Durga, and Amanda Ochsner

Event: DML2013 - 03/16/2013

Online communities offer a rich and complex arena for interaction and learning. Participants are bound together through shared interests and activities, making these ideal contexts to examine dimensions of connected learning at work. These communities allow people to come together to develop knowledge and skills, both within the boundary of the activity and beyond, providing a supportive and caring environment for learning outside classrooms. This panel explores connected learning through depth cases in four diverse online community contexts: wikis, video games, modding communities, and professional wrestling. These cases support, as well as complicate, the connected learning model as it has been developed thus far. Christo Sims, Assistant Professor of Communication at UC San Diego, will serve as discussant.

No One Edits Alone: Collaborative Construction of Multimodal Wiki Worlds, Amanda Ochsner

While classrooms are still primarily local, young people learn to participate in globally connected digital worlds by playing games and participating in the online communities around them. Contributors to game-based wikis develop criteria for participation that all members are expected to adhere to. In this panel, Amanda reports on research collected from four game wikis over five months, investigating cultural norms and patterns of participation and collaboration. The wikis represented in this data corpus include Call of Duty, Dishonored, Halo, and Resident Evil.

Welcome to Sackboy Planet: Learning Among LittleBigPlanet 2 Players, Matt Rafalow

Video games are increasingly designed with the capacity for players to not only consume game content but also produce content themselves to be shared with others. Matt will discuss his research on LittleBigPlanet 2, a craft-oriented Playstation 3 game, and its companion player community, Sackboy Planet. Online community members construct a learning environment centered on improving expertise as level designers, and players develop academically-relevant skills such as computer science, art, and team management to produce compelling levels enjoyed by the community.

“I have a bit of a modder’s block”: The Highs and Lows of Learning to Mod Online, Shree Durga

Learning in online communities is an evolving process of self-organized and longitudinal participation. An enduring challenge for educators and researchers studying these spaces lies in being able to effectively “zoom” in and out of individuals’ engagement across varying scales of time. Drawing from a study of a Civilization fan community—Civfanatics, Shree will present a mod-production case depicting a modder’s motivations to mod and how they are shaped by and within Civfanatics as he navigates the cycle of inspiration, iteration, and completion of a Civilization mod.

WWE as Site for Identity Creation, Crystle Martin

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Universe encompasses a vast community that has a diverse population and many sub-communities within it. In this panel, Crystle presents her research on one of these sub-communities which runs a fantasy league that functions somewhat like a text style RPG. The community creates wrestlers, writes scripts, and carries out matches, creating many learning opportunities for the participants to learn digital media skills, perfect their writing, and take a leadership role in the community, along with participating in the discourse of wrestling.

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