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Metaliteracy for Digital Citizenship

November 24, 2021

Valerie Hill (aka Valibrarian) hosted us at the Community Virtual Library and introduced the main topics of her book Metamodernism and Changing Literacy: Emerging Research and Opportunities, 2020. She referred to Alvin Tofler’s prediction:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

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Online Communities and Relationships

November 17, 2021

Gentle Heron and the team at Virtual Ability Island hosted the class this week. After an introduction from Gentle that explained the origins of the community and its development we broke into smaller groups facilitated by members of the VAI community. The opportunity for students to hear directly from them about their experiences in Second Life is invaluable and enlightening.

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From Hammer to Pixel

November 10, 2021

This week we considered the propositions of the late 20th Century Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan. He suggested that the ‘medium is the message’ and that electric (as it was known at the time) media was returning the world to the state of a ‘global village’.

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Teamwork and Collaboration

October 20, 2021

Sitearm Madonna joined the class to make a presentation called Composing for the New Era – Teamwork and Collaboration Online. The version of the talk in the following video is from a later presentation of the same talk to the Nonprofit Commons this year.

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Autumn semester 2021

September 27, 2021

Welcome to the module ‘Virtual Environments: Is one life enough?’ being offered as an elective module to students of Technological University Dublin School of Creative Arts and Dublin School of Archtitecture.

Classes will start on 6th October on Wednesdays at 3:00 pm for two hours. We meet online every week at TU Dublin in Second LifePlease note: you will need a Mac or PC desktop or laptop to access Second Life – you cannot do so with a mobile device.

Full details about the module are available to eligible registered students on the university VLE, Brightspace, where you may self-enrol. Read the Introduction unit carefully where you will find instructions on how to access Second Life and set up your personal avatar. Learning how to get around the virtual world and familiarising yourself with the environment and how to control your avatar will take a few hours so give yourself plenty of time before class starts.

Please read pages 1 to 9 in the column on the right also. If you would like to find out more about what to expect during the semester read the posts in this blog: all class since 2009 have been summarised.

If you have any problems email John O’Connor at TU Dublin.

This semester we will be working with Prof Murat Gülmez (aka Magua) and his students and will be spending much of our time with Lissena Resident, also known as Wisdomseeker, and her team at Whole Brain Health on Inspiration Island.

Acuppa Tae with the Whole Brain Health (WBH) team on Inspiration Island.

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Class 12: Team Project presentations

May 6, 2021

Sitearm Madonna recorded the students’ presentations and also completed the post production work to shape the result, for which we are most grateful.

Thanks are also due to Andrew Sullivan at Montana State University Billings, who provided the Heavy Industry student presentation region for the evening.

Finally, in addition to welcoming our module guest speakers and friends, it was a great pleasure to have members of the Virtual Worlds Education Round Table join us.

Congratulations are due to the students for the excellent quality of their projects, both in terms of content, research and presentation.

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Teamwork brainstorming demonstration

April 29, 2021
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Class 10: Inspiration Island

April 22, 2021

We were hosted by Wisdomseeker (Lissena) at the beach on Inspiration Island this week. Wisdom leads Whole Brain Health which is a community of creative elders in SL. The island is a wonderful place to explore with a range of programmes and interactive activities, such as yoga, t’ai chi, qi gong among others, designed to support heath and wellbeing at any age while having fun.

Thank you to Sitearm Madonna for recording the class. The quality of John’s voice is poor so please excuse this – fortunately he didn’t have too much to say this week!

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Class 9: Digital Citizenship

April 15, 2021
Valibrarian (aka Valerie Hill) shared her insights on metamodernism, metaliteracy and digital citizenship.

We gathered at the beautiful Study Beach in Library Land for this week’s class to meet Valibrarian (aka Dr Valerie Hill) who introduced her latest book Metamodernism and Changing Literacy: Emerging Research and Opportunities, 2020. Val is the director of the Community Virtual Library in SL and has been researching virtual environments for 14 years with a particular focus on changing literacy. She believes this impacts on all of us suggesting that we need to reconsider literacy in the 21st century. In this digital age we really need to consider metaliteracy because it requires juggling physical and digital formats.

She referred to the renowned futurist Alvin Tofler who coined the term prosumer to describe those who share content, particularly on the web, and produce what we now call user-generated content. The word comes form the fact that we are both consumers and producers of media. He is also remembered for saying:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

Alvin Tofler

Val suggests that in the past acquiring knowledge was a fairly linear journey towards mastery but now we need to learn new tools and apps constantly while also evaluating live information and adapting to new devices and software. The unending stream of incoming information means we are not just living a postmodern world but a metamodern culture. This means it is important that we each understand our personal responsibility as digital citizens.

Metaliteracy is an essential part of digital citizenship. Mackey and Jacobson (2014) coined the term to help us better understand how we can be literate in digital culture as prosumers. You can read more at melatiteracy.org where Val shared a guest blogpost, Metaliteracy and our metamodern times.

As a school librarian, Val witnessed the end of the Gutenberg Parentheses – when print lost its place as the most important source of information as books gave way to ebooks, websites, databases, videos, podcasts, blogs, apps and more. Juggling all these tools is changing the human brain and this ability to juggle is a metaliteracy skill. But, in addition to juggling tools we now also juggle between worlds: physical, virtual, augmented: choosing the most appropriate for different activities (work, learning, gaming, social interaction etc).

An important part of digital metamodern culture and metaliteracy is the preservation of literacy formats. With most content now being produced in digital format the question of archiving has come to the fore. Paper and other physical products are easily accessible and remain so but digital information requires an intermediary to access: hardware and software. What happens if you do not have the tools any longer? Is the content lost?

Val closed by asking us to think about metamodernism as our cultural moment and metaliteracy as promoting critical thinking and collaboration in the digital age.

John thanked Valibrarian for a fascinating presentation with exceptional slides to accompany her talk, in a beautiful (virtual) environment.

Reference

Mackey, T. & Jacobson, T. (2014). Metaliteracy: Reinventing information literacy to empower learners. Chicago: ALA Neal-Schuman.

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Class 8: Walking away…?

March 25, 2021

Guest speaker Glenn Loughran aka Feilimy joined the class to lead the discussion on the short story which you were asked to read in preparation. Here is his summary.

view of the classroom through the windows.
Feilimy introduces Ursula K Le Guin’s story ‘The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas’.

The session began with brief introductions in the class, focusing on the different disciplines that participants are working through. After this Ursula Le Guin’s text ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas‘ (1973) was introduced and contextualised. Emphasis and discussion were given over to the form of the story which is ‘allegorical’.  As Walter Benjamin has suggested, the allegory is a particular kind of literary trope that often emerges at times of crisis or political unrest. This is because the form of the allegory (part for whole) enables a reduction of complexity, making crisis more manageable and visible. A key allegorical trope is the figure of the Island because it represents a fragment of the whole. It is often understood is a microcosm of the world. These reflections then fed into a discussion about the text, the narrator of the text and importantly, how the narrator constructs the image of Utopia, with the reader. Incrementally, the narrator of the text asks the reader to contribute to the image of Utopia, ‘if they are unsatisfied with the one being described’. All in the class agreed that this is a strategic device to include the reader in the narrative, to make them co-constructors and potentially, co-conspirators. From this analysis, there was brief reflection on the conceptual nature of this strategy, commonly understood as ‘breaking the fourth wall’, which was developed by theatre practitioners in the early 20th Century, such as Bertolt Brecht. As the students proceeded through the text the discussion turned toward the moral dilemma at the heart of the text, its ideological presuppositions and the redemptive quandary that defines the ending of the story. This led to a very vocal and heated debate around the idea of a social contract vs individual agency. Some students pointed out how the allegorical nature of the story enabled it to be used as a tool to understand geopolitical structures of oppression. Interestingly this also led to analogies drawing out the relationship between cheap technological apparatuses and platforms being used in the class and the alienated labour that produced them, touching also on fast fashion and Virtual Reality. After this a very novel suggestion was made, which highlighted the relationship between the natural environment and modernity, suggesting that the environment could be understood as the oppressed child, subject to the hedonistic society of industrial progress. Some participants in the class could not comprehend lack of action or intervention into the situation by the citizens of Omelas, while others contemplated the possibilities that might emerge from walking away. As always, there was very little agreement on the dilemmas presented in the text and that is as it should be. Its aim is to foster debate, discussion, and imagination which it certainly did in the session.

John rejoined the class towards the end to thank Feilimy and remind you that the next class will be in three weeks, following the Easter break.

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