It has been quite a while since I have posted anything on my research project but it’s not because I haven’t been working on it. For the past year, while teaching full-time, writing freelance stories and taking MEd. courses, I’ve been working on this project.
I have actually finished the field work and it was an amazing experience – one that I will write about in the near future. I have transcribed all the interviews and I am in the process of analyzing the data.
Getting to this point in my research project has not been a straightforward process though. I had been working on an idea for sometime (as I explained in a previous post) but decided to abandon it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was too ambitious for a master’s project and secondly, I would need to spend sometime (perhaps months) doing fieldwork, away from my family, to complete it. I didn’t want to do that and so I began searching for something closer to home.
Kensington Market, located in Toronto’s West downtown, is one of my favourite places in the world. Its crowded, narrow streets, sidewalks spilling with products of all kinds and friendly people remind me of small Old World neighbourhoods, which can be both charming and grating at the same time.
I lived down the street from Kensington Market (at Shaw and Queen) for five years and so I passed through the area on an almost weekly basis during that time.
Madison: Mom, can I play Mario after lunch?
Me: No, you played WebKinz for an hour this morning. I think that’s enough of video games for now. Why don’t you read?
Madison: Well, if I play video games isn’t that kind of like reading? You told me it’s a new literacy.
Me: Hmmm… I guess I did.
Image: Microsoft Images
Researching video games consumed my household for a few weeks, much to the delight of my husband and daughter, both avid gamers. Not only was I preparing for a presentation for the Digital Literacy course but it was the topic for one week for another course I was taking: Adult Education and Digital Technologies.
We need to think about what new literacies actually mean and how defining and assessing them according to past understandings neglects the nature, practicality and implementation of such real literate experiences for the children in our schools. Reading books and reading screens are not the same experience, though they may share elements in common.
(Burke, 2009, p. 51)
I think the last sentence of the above quote is the key to understanding why new literacies can not be assessed the same way “old” literacies are evaluated. Reading a book and looking at a screen to read are definitely two different types of activities. Research into how people read on their computers has been going on for many years. For example, the Poynter Institute ran a study in 2007 that tracked how people read newspapers online.
Image: Microsoft Images
This week I was “forced” to finally put into words what my actual plan is for the research project I hope to run at the John Howard Society of Durham Region soon. That was a good thing.
It was really all in my head and so this exercise forced me to actually write it down and figure out how it is going to work. The timing was good too because I was writing my Research Ethics Board application for my MEd. research project and so having the information from the exercise was beneficial.
This topic was quite interesting to me because I spend a lot of time dealing with issues surrounding copyright. I even wrote a blog post on the subject a few months ago, to help those looking for images to use for their blogs . Unfortunately I couldn’t make the class but was able to contribute to the conversation on the course Ning.
Image: Microsoft Images
This week’s discussion on E-Literature and Digital Poetics was interesting for different reasons.
It was nice to discover the poem Girls’ Day Out and visually see it come alive though Flash. While looking for a link to the poem online I stumbled upon the Electronic Literature Collection, which includes Girls’ Day Out. I went through some of the other projects on this website and I quickly became immersed in these narratives, many created with Flash. I have used Flash in the past and it is definitely an application that allows for certain affordances, such as fluidity and non-linearity (Curwood & Cowell, 2011 ), which work perfectly with digital poetry.
Chung and Lee (2009) state that street art lends itself to discourse on issues surrounding social injustice. They see street artists using “guerrilla communication and public intervention methods to disseminate their work with an intention of generating public discourse about various social practices” (p. 21).
Works depicting racism, violence against women, poverty and other social issues abound on the walls of cities around the world. The messages these works contain are meant to stop people in their tracks, make them think and hopefully start a conversation.
I came across a very interesting paper while researching academic papers on street art for this project. The paper is called Conscientização through Graffiti Literacies in the Streets of a Sao Paulo Neighborhood: An Ecosocial Semiotic Perspective.
I am a great fan of Paulo Freire so once I saw the word “conscientização” (critical awareness) I just had to read this paper. The authors clarify that they consider graffiti a “literacy practice” with different messages that include words and semiotics which contain both social and cultural understandings (DaSilva Iddings et. al, 2011).
Sticker art, considered a sub-category of graffiti, is an interesting form of social street art. Stickers, such as “hello, my name is” are annexed and changed with the artist’s social commentary.
Other stickers are original works that appropriate city signs to complete their ideas. And then there are the stickers that are used to pass along what seems to be personal notes.