416Lit is an online literary magazine created as a knowledge mobilization platform for students by students. This public website is a digital, multimodal version of a classroom “bulletin board” where students not only publish their literary work, but they also explore, remix, and learn from their own work and the work of other students through the creation of multimodal/multimedia “artifacts.” The participatory culture created by 416Lit encourages students to develop meaningful, interest-based, and culturally relevant artifacts through critical engagement with diverse media tools. Evidently, this model illuminates ideas, critical themes, and transformative pedagogies from the readings in EDUC5385.
At its roots, 416Lit is embedded in the concept of production pedagogies. By definition, “a production pedagogy is one in which learning actors are enabled to engage (multi)literacy, artistic, and/or practical design challenges and aptitudes through the making of authentic cultural artifacts—and with correspondingly real audiences similarly enabled to witness such acts of art and knowledge production” (Thumlert et al. 2014, p. 12). 416Lit is an undeniable example of a production pedagogy, as students are clearly engaged in multiliteracies through various media and modes including text, image, sound, video, and interactive user-friendly interfaces. For instance, one student published an “Ode to Starman,” a tribute poem for David Bowie. Yet, this cultural artifact was not simply a traditional text-based unimodal poem; the poem used multiple modes, such as images, text, sound/music and above all, the poem was portrayed through a user-friendly, interactive digital storytelling platform called Twine. After further exploration of the 416Lit website, I found that there were many examples of Twines – interactive artifacts that enabled audiences to make personal choices when navigating through the work. For example, one student had created an interactive itinerary planner for tourists visiting Toronto. Ultimately, the student authors or “learning actors” of 416Lit created cultural artifacts as “design challenges,” which were published on a public platform, easily accessible to real audiences (Thumlert et al. 2014, p. 12). All of these student-created artifacts are spot-on examples of production pedagogies because they allow for the artistic, designed creation of multimodal literacies.
Furthermore, 416Lit promotes a participatory culture with “low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, [and] strong support for creating and sharing creations” (Jenkins 2009, p. xi). Jenkins (2009) states, “in a participatory culture, members also believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another” (p. xi). This is exemplified through the collaborative nature of 416Lit, as students are connected through their various artistic, critical, and creative contributions. Instead of students publishing their work on individual websites, sharing a class website is a simple way to enable more active participation as students can easily explore and critically examine, engage with, and learn from student work that complements their personal interests. Likewise, by departing from “traditional developmental schooling, curricular scripts, and conventional educational role-positions,” students can take on an authorship role in their learning (Thumlert et al. 2014, p. 9). This meaningful learning occurs by creating artifacts for the purpose of learning, for example, through trial-and-error, experimentation, exploration, and critical investigation with new mediums (such as Twine, Comic Life, etc). 416Lit provides a model for students’ active participation and ownership of learning because these forms of “digital technologies create new possibilities for how people relate to each other, how knowledge is defined and negotiated between actors and how it changes our conception of learning environments in which actors make meaning” (Erstad 2008, p. 181).
Finally, the concept of ludic epistemology connects the aforementioned ideas seamlessly. Lotherington and Jenson (2011) present a ludic perspective to maintain that play is an essential form of learning (p. 232). After watching the case study video and exploring the 416Lit website, I realized that the student work created numerous opportunities for serious play and playful learning. By exploring different mediums, such as Twine and Comic Life, students would have learned how to use these multimodal tools by playing with the features of these applications. The work produced by these students is a testament to their active, meaningful learning through ludic activities. Additionally, the creators and authors of 416Lit have clearly demonstrated that “literacy teaching is not about skills and competence; it is aimed at creating a kind of person, an active designer of meaning, with a sensibility open to differences, change, and innovation. The logic of multiliteracies is one that recognizes that meaning making is an active, transformative process” (Cope and Kalantzis 2009, p. 175).
Ultimately, after a critical reflection on 416Lit, it is evident that this platform enacts many ideas, critical themes, and transformative pedagogies from the course material. I would definitely implement a similar collaborative learning platform in my future classroom because it enables students to be active in their own learning while allowing for active citizenship at the same time. As students engage in digital play through ludic collaboration, they reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and even redesign work to create more meaningful, multimodal texts (Lotherington and Jenson 2011, p. 232). 416Lit clearly demonstrates that “with profound shifts in, and increasing reliances upon, new educational technologies and media forms…it is increasingly apparent that learning is not a private, cognitive act performed by self-sufficient actors” (Thumlert et al. 2014, p. 1). As a result, being inspired by 416Lit, I would definitely provide a similar collaborative, ludic platform based in a pedagogy of production for my students, so as to facilitate engaged and empowered ownership of their learning through active citizenship and participation.
Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (2009). ‘Multiliteracies’: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4(3), 164-195.
Erstad, Ola (2008). Trajectories of Remixing: Digital Literacies, Media Production and Schooling. In C. Lankshear & M. Knobel (Eds.) Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices, pp. 177-202. New York: Peter Lang.
Jenkins, H. (2010). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. The McArthur Foundation.
Lotherington, H. & Jenson, J. (2011). Teaching multimodal & digital literacy in L2 settings: New literacies, new basics, new pedagogies. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 226-246.
Thumlert, K., de Castell, S., & Jenson, J. (2015). Short cuts and extended techniques: Rethinking relations between technology and educational theory. Educational Philosophy and Theory & In Press (Chapter): Routledge.