Participatory Culture and the 21st century English teacher

Social network sites are an example of the ways in which youth engage in what Henry Jenkins calls participatory culture. In his white paper, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century”, Jenkins (2009) defines participatory culture as “a culture with 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 along to novices” (p. 3). He goes on to identify specific skills that will be necessary to engage effectively in this participatory culture, namely:
· Play
· Performance
· Simulation
· Appropriation
· Multitasking
· Distributed Cognition
· Collective Intelligence
· Judgment
· Transmedia Navigation
· Networking
· Negotiation (p. 4)

Now I know this sounds a little jargony and the one thing I want to be careful to avoid (at least in my blog posts) as I pursue graduate work is jargon. So let me break it down for you and explain what I took away from this paper.

Links from presentation:

Media Literacy

Media Awareness Network
Don’t Buy It
Centre for Media Literacy
Association for Media Literacy
Critical Media Literacy

Blogs to Read

Dangerously Irrelevant
Free Technology for Teachers
Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Cool Cat Teacher
The Spicy Learning Blog

New Teacher Resources

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher
The Educator’s PLN Ning

Follow these people on Twitter.

6 thoughts on “Participatory Culture and the 21st century English teacher

  1. Found the link via Royan. Glad to see you engaging Jenkins, one of my heroes and a thinker more teachers can benefit from reading.

    My own worry is that teachers/educators are cherry picking Jenkins, Gee and others for the parts they like while glossing over what Jenkins, in particular, has to say about school as a formal learning environment. Throughout his work, Jenkins locates all of these literacies within the situated affinity spaces in which they occur – often directly contrasting them to what happens in school, which he critiques.

    As well, the increasing interest in play and games among educators brings up critical questions about how institutional stakeholders go about trying to lay claim to either according to a context that is incongruous with both. Namely, that play is an act of autonomy. That is voluntary. School, as an institutional structure that requires involuntary participation, forced social arrangements and mediated by power, assessment and goals – predefined, pre-selected and largely disconnected from learners authentic needs, experiences and identities. Aside from ECE spaces, where play is authentically supported, the notion of relocalizing something that is situated outside of the contexts in which it is situated is concerning – namely because of the demands of performativity (the expression of the desired result in behaviour, etc) and productivity (a desired product or outcome – measurable because it is known). And purposive frames of play need to be resisted if we’re to tap into anything meaningful, authentic or truly connected to something we call “learning” or pleasure. Otherwise it is just a game and another form of playbor.

  2. “Playbor” . Love it, Melanie. As always I’m going to see things through the lens of a classroom teacher, but that’s why I love your insight. Given that I have to work within the framework of the public school system or, what do you think we as classroom teachers have as options?

    And Royan, It’s not a very good summary of Jenkins’ white paper, more my own reflections on what some of his ideas make me think about. But thank you both for reading. You guys rock!

  3. Danika, your summary is great. It’s accessible but also grounded in practice. And you know your audience. I realize I’m not talking about practice but that’s also my point – that the ideas that inform our practice are critical (which is the focus of my book as well). But it’s often, sadly, a place of disconnection – especially when we have a “known” objective in mind. The question for me is what is NOT known and how we arrive at those insights versus merely being functionaries to a prescribed agenda.

    I do want to maintain a connection to teachers. Because there’s a lot of valuable & critical scholarship going on, particularly around gaming and play, that is fundamental to the stuff you’re interested in but seems so isolated (i.e., the gaming scholars talk to the gaming scholars, the teachers talk to the teachers).

    I’d like to be able to give you an answer to your question because it’s a very good one: what are the options for classroom teachers? I’m going to be putting up a blog post soon of my own about my recent TEDx that I think might speak to this question so I will drop in a pingback.

  4. Danika,

    I enjoyed reading your post and watching your video. You have clearly showed a number of useful tools and how they can transform a classroom. I do agree with the notion that some students resist technology based assessments, because it challenges them. I have used the QR reader app to read information, but I love the way you used it to store your information. I am thinking of how I can use it in the class. Maybe I will put it on assignments so students can scan due dates and other pertinent details.

    As I read your article I couldn’t help, but be reminded of an article written for the 100th birthday (if he were still alive) of Marshall Mcluhan.

    A great read as usual,