Week 13: The Anticipation of Participation

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The Art of Social Media by Flickr member mkhmarketing

The Art of Social Media by Flickr member mkhmarketing

While trying to be inspired to begin writing the Reflection for our final assessment piece, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the whole participatory culture of social media. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of the term until this unit! It was my first indication that this final unit of my masters was to be full of terms and ideas that were foreign to me!

I have developed a new respect for blogging in particular. Previously, my participation with blogging had been to read… and that’s it! I would find myself admiring the writers of these blogs, and wonder where they found their passion (and the time) needed to be so wise, and prolific, and learned and inspired! I now have a tad more understanding of why someone may wish to blog… it’s the participation from others, and the pathways blogging opens to a wider community that can inspire.

I find myself keen to read what others may think about what I have written, or what they think about a similar topic to one that has interested me. Even though I have never met my fellow bloggers, there is a familiarity that develops over sharing posts! I have enjoyed ‘getting to know’ people through the more personal style of writing found in blogging. I no longer feel like the only one who doesn’t ‘get it’, or know about something, or is concerned about something else. I love the practicalities of a topic you can find in blogging.

While there will always be a part of me that will prefer a good old chat over a coffee or wine, or physically attending a seminar or event, I now recognise the broad range of connections, knowledge and experience that blogging can offer as one that I would like to pursue… as long as I can find… and maintain… the passion… and time…

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Week 12: Free choice: Who’d have thought?

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flickr photo:  by davidyuweb retreived from http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidyuweb/4446734924/sizes/s/in/photolist-7LWFnw-e5Fx3f-aUTi5z-bM1XER-fLnXL5-8vBf7N-a1bHvu-a18qPT-a197gM-bynFt6-fL4e1Y-a1cDBC-aXVAzk-8F8nVC-a5VPq6-9bdMKz-98zBbH-8GGQig-8gWPUv-d4ouvj-gtzbbj-gtz3N3-gtyciQ-gty9jJ-gtt38f-gttYfq-gtt929-gttCEc-gttH1B-gtuCNV-gtu1nG-gtt59Q-gttvEu-gttWJD-gtuaPs-gtuBaV-gturwu-gtugCt-gttqJs-gttXY2-gtthGA-gttdAu-gttoVs-gtueWf-gttEAg-gtuvEg-gtuqyp-brMt9d-bWDGRB-cwZX2y-atgskP/

flickr photo no. 4446734924 by flickr user davidyuweb

My role as a teacher librarian at the primary school in which I work has a strong focus on information and communication technologies (ICT). I plan with teachers and help them embed ICTs into their teaching, so that it becomes a tool for teaching and learning, rather than just an added extra, more often than not used for ‘fun’.

As well as helping teachers use ICTs in their everyday learning and teaching, we have been preparing for the implementation of a one to one iPad program with Year 3 students next year. I am on the lookout for any information that with help me in my own professional learning, to inspire my colleagues to extend their own professional learning, and then how to apply this in developing effective pedagogy that will embrace the benefits of ubiquitious technology access will bring.

While completing this unit, I have developed a new respect for the influence popular culture can have students, and how it can be used by teachers to engage students with the curriculum. As much of youth popular culture can be found in the technological environment, whether it be online, or on a stand alone computer, it made sense to have a look around and see if there might be a resource that will help me combine ICTs with youth popular culture and text.

Come in the amazing blog TEACHTHOUGHT.

For me, at this point in my professional journey, this blog seems to have just about everything I am looking for. Not only does it have relevant articles, blog entries, anecdotes, learning and teaching tips, case studies… the list goes on, it also provides an entry point from which I can go further.

The totally searchable blog allows me to find valuable information from game-based learning resources, to integrating pop culture into the classroom, to infographics to  practical sounding teaching with iPad tips.

As with most worthwhile online resources, this space seems both bottomless and far reaching. I like the fact that it is not only related to one type of technology in education. While I find using specific sites and blogs such as Apps in Education, TEACHTHOUGHT helps me maintain a broader, current view of tips, trends, trials and tribulations associated with integrating technology into the curriculum, thus servicing the wider school community. I’m probably more comfortable coming to terms with the actual print and media (TV, music and movies) side of youth popular culture on my own if need be. I’m very good at reading, listening and viewing! The fact that this resource incorporates a variety of sources of technology and its use, means that I can also use it to help foster the use of the mode of popular culture I am less familiar with- the online and interactive medium of social media and gaming, and in doing so harness its potential in education.

flickr photo 6400358699 by mrsdkrebs

flickr photo no. 6400358699 by flickr user mrsdkrebs

Week 11: Pinterest

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I really enjoyed talking with the youth I interviewed. After reading some of the other interviews undertaken by my colleagues in this unit, I realised that the youth I interviewed were not so fanatical about any particular topic as others. While I admired their individuality, it made it difficult to come up with a focus for my Pinterest board. If I was to do this task again, I would probably follow the actions of Maria and Catherine and do a survey of a group so I could have a broader sample base so I could get more of a picture of what might be ‘popular’.

However, Master 13 did say he loved the fantasy genre, so this is the topic I pursued… (in the interest of full disclosure, my board only has 27 pins on it. I had more to add but for some reason, it wouldn’t let me!)

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http://www.pinterest.com/donnavine/fantasy/

I find the notion of what is popular with kids these days to be extremely complex, and cyclic in nature. I think it also has an affect on the popularity of youth.

When children are young, before they start school, generally speaking they are quite happy to like what they like. It doesn’t worry them if what they like is different to what others like. This is probably because their world is themselves!

Once they get to school, they look around and see friendship groups being made, and of course want to be a part of that. As they mature through the primary years into secondary, more and more importance is placed on being a part of a group, having friends, belonging, and popular culture is a common thread through which friendship groups can be established. It makes sense to like what your friends like. The more you know about what is in, the more ‘cred’ you seem to have.

It seems to me that once they leave school, the individual comes back into play. While it is great to share interests with friends, it is also OK to have your own interests. Having differing tastes and enjoying different aspects of popular culture to those around you doesn’t mean you can’t be part of a group.

What have you noticed about popular culture and its influence on the popularity of youth?

Week 10: Interview

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A good friend has five children aged between 13 and 18 years. Within this mix she has two sets of twins, both fraternal. The twins are 13 and 16, and the eldest is a girl, 18. I thought talking to this group of teens would provide me with an interesting mix of responses. Two of the children weren’t available to interview, as they were away with friends over the holidays. They are all delightful youths, and so far probably fall into the ‘good kid’ category!

The below table shows their responses to my questions. I’ll follow that with some comments/observations of my own.

13 year old male (Year 8 student). 16 year old female (Year 11 student, works part-time) 18 year old female (uni student, works part-time)
How often do you read books? I am always reading something. Mainly in the holidays due to the load of school work. Rarely. Mainly read magazines now- surfing especially. Read more when I was younger
Do you enjoy reading? Why/why not? Yes, I love it. Yes. It takes my mind off things. I enjoy flicking through magazines but not reading books.
Do you have a favourite genre? If yes, explain why it is your favourite. Fantasy. I love Tolkien, Rowling, anything that is in a different world. Mainly realistic books, but sometimes I enjoy fantasy. I like books with people in them that I can relate to. I like string females that make great decisions. My favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. No
Do you think you have learned anything from reading? I think reading helps me with my schoolwork. It helps me use new words. It is interesting to see into peoples’ minds, which is something that reading can help you do. I think reading can help you write. When I was younger and still at school, I think it helped me with my writing.
How do you decide what to read? Friends? Your own decision? I don’t talk about reading much with my friends. I like re-reading books too. The cover usually gives me a clue as to if it is a fantasy story. Sometimes I hear about books with friends. I like reading the paper too so I often see reviews in there. I read the same magazines all the time as I know they will have articles in them I enjoy.
Do you watch movies? How often? Yes. Usually on weekends or the holidays. Only on the holidays. Yes. When I can, not really regularly.
What is your favourite type of movie? Fantasy, action, comedy. I also like documentaries. Romantic comedy, anything light, or interesting. Action
Have you learned anything from movies? Not really. I watch movies for entertainment and down time, so not really. No.
How do you decide what to see? Friends? Your own decision? Friends, Mum. Reviews, friends. If I see an ad and it looks good.
Would you rather read the book or watch the movie? Book Book, but I also want to see the movie after I have read the book. Movie
Do you watch TV? Yes Not much, but my friends do. Sometimes, not often.
How often? What do you watch? A bit in the afternoon or evening. It depends how much homework I’ve got. On the holidays I’ll watch whatever is on. I don’t really follow any shows. I’d rather watch a movie or do something.
Do you have a favourite show? Why do you like it? Southpark, Family Guy, Modern Family. I like Southpark because it is funny and I like the way it mocks society. No No
How do you decide what to watch? Friends? Your own decision? If there is a movie I want to watch, I’ll watch that. If mum has a documentary type show on, I like to watch them too. Whatever is on the TV I’ll watch if I can.
Apart from school, how do you use the internet? Instagram Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Snapchat Youtube, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram
How do you use social media (if you have any accounts)? I follow bloggers on Instagram Keep in touch with friends, socialising, messaging, follow bloggers on Instagram Mainly to message with Facebook, and follow bloggers on Instagram.
Do you post much on these accounts, or do you mainly read/follow? Never post, just read. Apart from messaging friends, I don’t post. Sometimes I might post a random photo on Instagram, or reply to one a friend has posted.
Are you a gamer? What games do you play? Do you connect with friends/unknown players/both? No No No
Apart from school work, do you use the internet on a computer, or a mobile device? Why? I don’t have my own but I use Mum’s mobile. I have a school laptop, and I can only use it for schoolwork. I don’t use the home computer as the mobile is quicker, easier and always connected. Mobile. It is always with me, and free to keep in touch with friends as long as I am within wifi. Mobile.
Do you ever ring anyone? No Not really. Only if I want to talk to someone about an exam or assignment I am studying for as it is easier to talk about that rather than text or message. Then I use the home phone because I don’t usually have any credit on my mobile. No. Only Mum.

Comments/observations

  • I was surprised at how little TV was watched by any of them. The overall consensus was that if the TV was on, they would watch it. They were generally quite happy to watch whatever was on, and didn’t seem to follow any particular program. I got the impression that this was mainly due to being too busy with schoolwork and part time work commitments. Most of their TV viewing happens in the holidays, however, they are a very active family, who generally would rather spend time out and about.
  • No one I spoke to seemed overly influenced by friendship groups in their choices of what to read and view. They were happy to make their own decisions. The 16 year old explained that even though sometimes she felt out of the conversation when her friends (who watched a lot of TV) talked about common shows, she never felt isolated. Her friends knew her, and knew she didn’t watch much TV. The 18 year old recognised that she didn’t have much in common with her friends in regards to her entertainment/leisure choices, but didn’t mind as there was still a lot they enjoyed doing together. I must say I was impressed by their maturity! I remember being absolutely devastated when I could take part in conversations at school about TV shows that ALL my friends were watching as I wasn’t allowed to watch TV during the week!
  • I was surprised at the lack of gaming involved. Maybe this was because the only male I interviewed was only 13, and gaming seems to be a choice made by males a bit older? This is something I will be interested to read about on other blogs within this co-hort.
  • I loved their practical use of social media! All three recognised the various platforms as a cost effective way to keep in constant touch with friends. In my ignorance, I didn’t realise that Instagram could be used to ‘follow’ people. All three interviewees used Instagram to follow celebrities of their choice (from surfers to fashion to movie stars). While there was very little posting done, the messaging service on facebook and texting options were utilised by all three youths. Rarely was a phone call made, and this was also due to the cost!
  • When I first spoke to their Mum (my friend) about interviewing her children, she immediately said it was a shame that her 13 year old daughter would not be available. Apparently, she is the social media queen! My friend and her interviewed offspring all agreed that their missing sibling was forever posting photos, commenting, sharing and seeking opinions. I have no doubt her responses would have been different, and maybe given me another insight into the popular culture domain that is hers.
  • I was not surprised to hear that the preferred tool of communication was a mobile device. After all, wouldn’t everyone rather communicate on the go, or while relaxing in front of a movie and chatting to whoever happened to be within your physical and virtual radar?!?! And apparently for free!!!

While writing this post, I realised that I had totally neglected to include music in my scope of questions- bother! Do youth today buy CDs anymore? Or do they mainly download their music? And if so, legally or not-so-legally? Or do they watch it on Youtube? Or do they use apps like Spotify that allow you to access a plethora of music genres and create and share your own playlists and pursue a number of different musical tastes a relatively small cost?

Looks like yet another aspect of youth popular culture for me to pursue!

Week 9: Free Choice: Dipping my toe in…

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In my last post I pondered how I can possibly set out to get a handle on what is popular with youth today, given my total lack of experience due to my own age (?) and the age of my chldren ( 6yrs and 8yrs). I thought I would investigate the world of youth (beyond 8 yrs old) and popular culture by dipping my toe into some of the alien terms I have heard discussed during our collaborate and google+ sessions.

Reddit

Someone mentioned Reddit, so I thought I would have a look…

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Wow! There truly is a new world out there.  Reddit presents itself as the front page to the internet, and this seems to be truly what you get! With trending posts covering everything from supposedly cute miniature horses to finding out why atoms supposedly prefer to have 8 valence electrons, Reddit seems to have something for all!  After spending a considerable amount of time looking around, I decided that I really need something that will narrow down the online activities to those relevant to 1. youth and 2. those activities popular with youth. As yet, I haven’t been able to find something, however, maybe looking online for the answer is the wrong approach. Maybe it’s best to just talk to youth and find out from them what is popular???

Meme

I’m still not sure I know what a meme is, but I did come across the knowyourmeme webpage.

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I am a visual person, and as such, I found knowyourmeme a lot ‘prettier’ to look at, and for me better signposted than reddit, and so easier for me to navigate and understand. However, I am aware that my preference for this type of interface may also be age driven! I can see me getting lost for hours here!

Mashable

Typical of time spent online, I ‘accidentally’ found mashable which seems to be an online tool that curates anything to do with what is popular…

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Youtube

Ok, so youtube is not really alien to me, but apart from searching for clips that will help illustrate or provide an example of lesson content, and storing videos made by my students, I hadn’t really looked at youtube as a source for might be a popular trend. On closer look, I find I can subscribe to certain channels (One Direction and Minecraft at least sound familiar!), and youtube even recommends certain channels for me! If I knew what search terms to put it, I could also see the usefulness of youtube in allowing me to view popular videos.

youtube

Google

Being a creature of habit, I couldn’t help but try typing in “what’s popular with youth” into google and seeing what came up! I came across various sites claiming to present the current trends with youth and movies, social networking, literature and entertainment. Some include voya magazine, youth culture news, and ypulse.

While no single one of my above finds really gathers together the information I seek, I can see that by regularly visiting these virtual signposts I may be eddirect to options for preferred pop culture by youth. At least it gives me the proverbial pond into which I can dip my toe, rather than drown in a bottomless ocean!

How do you keep up with the what is popular out there?

Week 8: I want to grow up to be a knowledgeable adult!

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Week 8: Response to scholarly reading.

Losh, E. and Jenkins, H. (2012) Can Public Education Coexist With Participatory Culture?, Knowledge Quest 41.1, Sep/Oct: 16-21
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/1076399985/fulltextPDF?accountid=13380

While engaging with the materials and discussions, and writing the assignment for this unit of study has opened my eyes to the vast world of youth popular culture and text, I have been primarily concerned as to what my role as a teacher librarian is in regards to it all. I long ago accepted the fact that it is just about impossible for me to read every book in our school library’s collection, and I am beginning to realize that the same might be said with becoming active and expert in the many worlds and platforms our youth populate. Then, once I’m ‘in the know’ how do I champion its use in our school? However, being a glass half full kind of gal, I went in search of a scholarly article that may give me some direction, particularly if it can help me to work smarter, not harder!

Can Public Education Coexist with Participatory Culture by Elizabeth Losh and Henry Jenkins (2012) investigates the role of the school librarian in supporting students’ involvement in participatory culture, and supporting teachers in its use in the classroom.

‘We argue that school librarians can help bridge the gap between the excitement of having students experiment with new forms of social learning and new digitalmedia practices, and meeting the obligations of institutions to promote responsible citizenship, respect for others, and a willingness to sometimes sacrifice immediate self-interest for the long-term common good.’ (Losh and Jenkins, 2012, p.17)

Losh and Jenkins argue that the school librarian also has a pivotal role in helping teachers overcome the restrictive censoring and ‘blocking’ institutions have in place that hinders their effective integration of popular media platforms. They suggest that rather than block students’ access, which relays to the student that what they value themselves has no connection to what they are required to learn at school, it will become more effective if we surround students with ‘knowledegable adults’…

‘We believe young people will be safer if schools provide them with access to knowledgeable adults who can provide them with informed and meaningful advice about their online activities. In the current situation, that role is most apt to fall on school librarians whose roles in guiding learners through the research process may extend to coaching young people on the best use of new media resources.’ (Losh and Jenkins, 2012, p.20)

LEGO-BRIDGE

Image: http://www.improvestaff.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/men_on_bridge1.jpg

This article both inspired me and made me nervous! As I have previously mentioned, I really have limited experience with what anyone over the age of 9 is participating in while not at school (the above picture illustrates my current comfort zone in bridging the gap with popular culture and school!), whether it is social networking, music or movies. Having the role of ‘knowledgeable adult’ in regards to books is natural for me… I have always loved reading. It has always been a part of my life both professionally and personally. The idea of trying to achieve the same level of comfort or knowledge with popular culture fills me with anxiety! I’m keen… but am I able? Trying to check it all out as soon as I can fills me with trepidation as once I think I have a handle on it all, something new will come along. Such is the nature of youth and their participation in the digital world. However, I am passionate about engaging children in school, and value using their experience to this advantage. I do believe our current curriculum allows this, and our school system is getting better at supporting this. Each school has the capacity to internally control its web filtering software, and we have access to wonderful group of education officers that are keen to provide professional support in whatever mode we require.

So now it’s over to you… help me make a start in checking out what is out there. Maybe you can give me one suggestion as to where to start to find out what is currently the ‘in’ platform? Maybe I’ll get lucky and there might be a website/blog that has it all collected in one place??? Is that what Reddit does??? In the meantime… I might just go and read a good book!