There are an increasing number of settings, including after school clubs, youth clubs, museums and libraries, where children can learn informally. However, there is a need for research into their pedagogic and social role as a complementary to formal learning in order to realise their immense potential. This paper presents an intervention action research that took place in two settings outside school; a computer club and a series of technology-enhanced workshops in a museum in London (UK). The research assumes a change of focus for studying learning more holistically; from viewing children as passive to consider them as social and cultural actors; from a content-based to a process-based pedagogy; from individual to group participation within an environment; from a focus on learning as a psychological phenomenon to one on ‘meaning-making’ as a social practice. It attempts to bridge the gap that exists between children’s uses of digital technology at home, at school and in other settings. The study, an intervention action research, developed a methodological framework around the idea of the ‘activity’ as a unit of analysis, which determined how the data was collected, analysed and interpreted. The ‘activity’ as a unit of analysis is a researcher tool developed by the practitioner; it aims to describe more inclusive ways to understand children’s participation, perspectives and the researcher/practitioner commitment to children’s agency. This view aimed to acknowledge children’s mutual engagement, joint enterprise, share enterprise (Wenger, 1998), their feelings and emotions. The term meaning-making reflects an integrated, contextualised and transformative way to understand social practices. This, at the same time, describes the connections between the micro and the macro aspects of the ‘activity’. My intention in this paper is to explain how this methodology could result in the development of a language of description that refers to an Ecology of children’s participation.
|Keywords:||Activity Theory, Multimodality, Digital Literacy, Meaning-making, Design of Spaces for Learning, Informal Learning Environments, Out-of-school Learning, Community of Practice|
PhD Student, Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, London, UK
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