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H809 – Gillen sounds all Greek to me

May 16, 2011

I don’t know how other experienced Julia Gillen’s (2009) article, but … I even don’t find any words how to put it … I am quite confused, puzzled and 404 (to use a newer version ;-), after reading it.

I thought I jot down some initial thoughts directly after reading it.

After finishing reading I asked myself what was that about. I know it was about Schome Park, the teen version of Second life, it was about literacy, although my definition about literacy clearly differs from her definition, and the evidence she provides is in my opinion not valid and not  reliable.

I still wonder how she analysed (p. 68) the data from table 1 as it all sounded gibberish to me. I also don’t understand it why she valued this particular extract so much.

No offense, but I don’t get it. 😕

After reading  Wegerif and Mercer (1997) or Roschelle (Block 1), who also analysed talk  using computer-based analysis of collaborative learning, respectively Roschelle using the more traditional coding schemes to analyse talk I had a relative good idea what the results of their study were and which methods they used. Contrary, I have no real picture about the findings from Gillen. She often refers to the two students – Tricciee and Marshbar9 and how they started in the forum to consider to create a dictionary and how they realized that in a wiki. She was highly enthusiastic about that. So what, sure as a teacher I would appreciate that too, if two of my students had that idea and this two students put according to Gillen a lot of effort in the glossary, as the history tab, revealed, but how can I generalize from that findings, how would that help me if I decided to send my students as well to this virtual island.

I know that context is important, but why she meticulous describes the design of e.g. the wiki defies any explanation. I know about the affordances theory and that each communication technology has its own set of affordances that affect behaviour, but what has multimodality e.g. the colour  of a wiki to do with literacy.

Her first persons style might be typical for an anthropologist or ethnographer, but I find it quite unsettling for an academic article as it entails a lot of personal and emotional comments. In a blog post I would find it quite appropriate, but in a formal paper.

So what is new? New technologies require new research methods was her claim, but insofar are the methods she used new. No doubt the terminology she applied was new – talking about virtual literacy ethnography, textual ethnography or corpus linguistic analysis, but the methodology behind was not really new. The corpus lingustic analysis and the creation of a frequency list, strongly reminded me on Wegerif and Mercer’s count of key word usage and/or key words in context and that was 1997. So nothing really new.

Well, one thing is for sure, I definitely need to read this article at least one more time and then I will probably see it in a different light, or find something that convinces me more. And I definitely need to check what my fellow students from H809 think about the article and how they answered the corresponding questions. But first, I prefer to form an own view on the reading before I contrast that with my peers.

Well, back to H807 where I need to finish my last TMA.

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