Children's and young people's digital literacies
in virtual online spaces

Seminar 5 : Virtual Literacies in Schools

May 28th, 2010

Sheffield Hallam University

Room 942, Owen Building, City Campus, Sheffield

map of City Campus


10:00 Arrival and coffee

10:30 Welcome and introduction to the day

10:45 Alternate Reality Gaming in a Primary School

Angela Colvert, Roehampton University

In this paper I will report on a research project in which my Year 6 class designed and played an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) with and for their peers. My presentation explores the ways in which the children (designers and players) developed storylines and game-play both online and offline, across a range of modes and media. I highlight the role of collaboration and negotiation in the process of meaning-making, using examples of texts created before and during play, and examine the way in which the ARG provided a powerful context for developing the childrens literacy.

11:30 “Word FM – Radio to live by”

Steve Thompson, Institute of Digital Innovation, Teesside University

I will explain how an Internet Radio Project was used as a means to develop traditional as well as digital literacies. The project became a catalyst for personal development with the Primary school children as well as building team skills and self esteem. Using only free, and freely available tools the children were able to function in a world more traditionally the domain of mainstream media and the children were well aware of these digital affordances. A new world was opening up for them and to emphasize this I drew upon my own international networks to join the ranks of listeners. This was tremendously encouraging for the children but also took on a life of its own with genuine admiration for what the children had achieved.

12:15 Questions

12:30 Lunch

1:30 A fixed point in time and pedagogy - Bringing the new into the primary classroom

Martin Waller

Teacher at Holy Trinity Rosehill C.E. Primary School/MA student at the University of Sheffield

This paper focuses on the changing nature of literacy in our society and how education has remained fixed on traditional notions of literacy within a school setting. In contrast I will present a range of ways I have promoted virtual literacies within my Year 2 classroom through projects linked to the development of new literacies. This includes the use of Twitter as means of developing intergenerational literacy and chroma-key techniques to create children's imagined worlds in virtual spaces. The paper will also extend the paradigm of New Literacy Studies (Street, 1997) to demonstrate how 'simulated literacy events' in a virtual space can transcend into the 'real' world to stimulate literacy learning through meaningful contexts.

2:15 Questions

2:30 Animation and Creativity in Education

What are teens learning from animation and machinima production?

Britta Pollmuller

Media Projects East, Norwich & Norwich University College of the Arts

The presentation will demonstrate a model of how young people learn about animation and machinima [i] It will introduce a new required form of animation literacy that has developed from the old literacies. The talk explores pedagogies and modes of learning that have originated from both art and media education. I will describe what happens when teenagers produce animation and teases out some of the different claims made regarding creativity, literacy and culture.

The case studies carried out in Norfolk Secondary Schools and Schome Park [ii] will give a demonstration of the key factors that foster positive learning progression, and establish standards by which the quality of young peoples' creative work can be understood and evaluated.

I will argue that (1) animation and machinima production relates positively to young people's experiences and social practices in the new media age, (2) animation and machinima production fulfils their creative and cultural needs, (3) new literacy simultaneously combines new kinds of literacy with traditional moving image literacy, (4) machinima introduces new cultural experiences of popular media culture and introduces new semiotic systems based on 3-D real time animations, (5) ‘virtual learning' environments offer meaningful and creative learning experiences where teenagers can acquire ‘informal' knowledge, (6) animation and machinima offer more creative engagements with teenagers' ‘out of school' cultures.

[i] Machinima is film making in virtual realities

[ii] Schome Park is an Open University initiative designed to collect evidence about approaches to support teenage learners.

3:15 Group Discussion

3:40 Questions to the speakers - Panel

4:00 Depart (but not before committing to the final conference on June 19th!)

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