E-learning and Digital Cultures
n posthuman cyberculture, how do we still use narrative to learn and make sense of the world?
“Storytelling……..the set of cultural practices for representing events chronologically.” Levine 2008 Through a review of the literature and some brief data analysis, this paper will examine the idea that narrative or storytelling may be an essential component in the way humans learn and make sense of the world. They use narrative to create and sustain a ‘reality’, a culture and a sense of self. Stories seem to have a fundamental link to human knowledge and experience “Significantly, the words ‘narrative’ and ‘story’ can both be traced back to an original meaning of ‘to know.’" (Pradl 1984) With that in mind, I will investigate how storytelling has been affected by Web 2.0 technologies, specifically micro‐blogging, in the form of Twitter. This will be undertaken through the observation and analysis of a sample of the tweets made during the IT Futures conference, Edinburgh, December 2010. Before embarking on this analysis, the literature on Web 2.0 technologies and storytelling is examined. As Murphy et al (2001) as cited by Cousin (2005) say “all pedagogies necessarily involve technologies of communication…” Cousin (2005) discusses McLuhan’s idea of ‘the medium is the message’ and that media can shape who we are and how we think. If we are now posthumans, how have social media like Twitter, the culture of ‘cyberculture’ and the continuing influence of narrative shaped us? Tapscott (1998) continues this theme and notes that it is the N‐Gen, through their use of digital media who will develop a culture which will ‘superimpose…on the rest of society’.
Just as narrative and stories exist and flourish within cyberculture they also contribute to the formation of ‘posthuman’, cyberculture. Stories have always sustained and created human culture and shown us our place as human beings within it (Damon and Lerner 2006) Could there be a psychological imperative which causes humans to rely on narrative as a way of learning and organising human experience, whether it be in face‐to‐face encounters or in cyberspace? Storytelling began with oral cultures – pre‐ chirographic cultures. Cultures dominated by print and writing have a non‐democratic effect in the sense that they require learning in a specific way – reading and writing can be controlled by the people with the knowledge in a way that oral and visual culture could not. The Internet has restored the balance somewhat – storytelling and other forms of communication are based much more on oral traditions and make greater use of visual and aural means. Much of the oral tradition, involving collaboration between people, is preserved in cyberculture through storytelling, poetry, webcasts and involves people from across cultures and communities who would never have met, before the advent of the internet. Thomas et al (2007) point out that “The chitchat of a blog is not dissimilar to campfire stories after a day’s hunting”
Those who view culture as ‘high culture’ such as Sven Birkerts, and are bound up in writing and what has been written, see cyberculture as corrosive because it gives greater cultural capital to ‘popular culture’ , the ‘culture’ that is created and accessible to the masses. However, Sam Leith (2008) reminds us in his Telegraph news paper article. “… telling stories is as old a game as language itself.” “Cultures have maintained their existence through different types of stories, including myths, fairy tales, and histories” (Jonassen & Hernandez-Serrano 2002) Cultural imperialism has been a concern throughout the 20th century with the growth of global media and mass tourism. However it is a concept which becomes almost irrelevant in cyberculture – it is not one culture dominating another. You can re‐ create subcultures and a sense of locality in small networks or just be happy to be part of the ‘superculture’ which is the internet. As Jonassen & Hernandez‐Serrano (2002 p109) point out stories also act as ‘communal forms of memory and reflection’ On the other hand, some people “…see the Internet as corrosive to local cultures. While agreeing that the Internet may affect local language, culture, and expression, we must remember that neither language, nor culture, nor storytelling is static.” (Cisler 1999) So why is narrative and storytelling culturally significant? As Cisler (1999) says, storytelling has always been a way of passing on a version of history to the younger generations. Oral storytelling gave people and cultures without the power of reading and writing the ability to maintain their own
versions intact and untouched by the ‘powerful’. Twitter, the micro‐blogging tool we will analyse in this paper, certainly gives the average person the ability to comment on and tell stories about themselves, their experiences and their culture, unmediated by those in authority. So how is digital storytelling different to traditional storytelling? It uses a combination of traditional storytelling techniques and can be combined with live performance techniques provided by multi‐ media such as sound and video. However digital narrative can also explore in a non‐ linear way, departing from the traditional beginning, middle and end of traditional stories. Similarly to oral storytelling, it can also be collaborative but importantly, it does challenge the relationship of author and listener in much more fundamental ways. Even in oral cultures, the storyteller role is usually restricted to certain older, talented individuals who have particular skills in communicating with others. This role, what I dub ‘the storyteller’, is reprised in the Twitter narrative I analyse later in the paper. It may be that digital storytelling or narrative acts as a sort of ‘narrative accrual’ as Bruner (1991) calls it. Is cyberculture enabling ‘the accrual of narratives into larger scale cultures or traditions or ‘world versions’’ because of it’s unique ability to allow humans from all over the world to collaborate in creating this new ‘culture’? “Interactivity is a property of the technology, while participation is a property of culture.” (Jenkins 2006) Bruner (1991) even thinks we have to share a domain in order for culture to operate. In cyberculture this ‘domain’ is our virtual networks and the stories we tell in them and about them. Narrative enables us to organise the information we are bombarded
with in cyberspace so that we can continue to have the same social beliefs about what we think other people are like and what reality consists of. Another important cultural function for narrative is that it helps us, as humans, to find our place in culture (Bruner 1990; White 1981). What is our ‘place’ in cyberculture? We will explore this further later in the paper. For the purposes of this paper we will discuss posthuman cyberculture as the context into which Twitter users are trying to fit what they are learning and reading, using new ways of constructing and interacting with narrative and stories. Pachler and Daly (2009) suggest that learning, as a cognitive process, takes place both within the learner’s mind and has also become a process that is ‘socially and culturally embedded in practices brought about by technologies’. As Debarra (2010) mentions, in an unpublished position paper, “Through the re-cycling of the content, in fragmentary pieces, the learner is part of a process of reconstructing the story” As already mentioned, the focus here will be on the use of a Web 2.0 microblogging technology called Twitter (Appendix 1) which produces and reconstructs ‘fragmentary pieces’ in the form of brief messages and I will attempt to trace the practices of learning and the narrative used to shape this learning with the social and cultural experience of ‘tweeting’ at an educational conference, IT Futures 2010 The data used will be ‘tweets’ made under the hashtag #itf10, during the IT Futures conference in Edinburgh on 14th December 2010. The ‘tweets’ made using #itf10 were captured in Twapperkeeper, by one of the
course participants. A hash tag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. Hash tags allow you to create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share information related to it. In order to analyse the practices of learning and narrative taking place in #itf10 I used a variety of techniques. The data was collated to discover the percentage of conference attendees actually using Twitter and enable a discussion to be had about whether it might aid either their learning or their social and cultural experience of the conference. (Appendix 2) In addition, the number of tweets made by each of the tweeters was calculated so that the relative importance of different participants could be assessed and ‘roles’ in the narrative might be assigned to them eg storyteller, teacher. Analysis of a sample of 250 tweets was performed to allow patterns of activity to emerge and some conclusions to be drawn. This involved assigning the first 250 tweets (roughly half of the total number) to four loose categories based on traditional, linear story structure – openings, statements, digression or discussion and closings. In order to establish whether this Twitter trend contained any of traditional features of a narrative I also applied a selection of Bruner’s ten narrative features (link) to examine the whole set of data – all the tweets made at the conference. There is already a range of evidence that Twitter is being used for storytelling in a variety of ways eg. Twitter‐ social storytelling, Storytelling with Twitter and Twitterhistory.
Application of some of Bruner’s ten features of narrative to Twitter hashtag #itf10 Narrative diachronicity – temporal sequence essential to narrative – even visual forms – left to right or top to bottom. Twitter arranges the tweets in the order they are posted but contrary to normal literary conventions, they need to be read backwards or up from the bottom of the hashtag to the top to gain the chronological order. In #itf10, tweets are chronological but not necessarily sequential and there is repetition as different people either ‘retweet’ or re‐iterate information for their own ‘followers’. However, there are also ‘layers’ to the narrative, in that there are activities happening simultaneously with the ‘tweeting’, in ‘real life’ at the IT Futures conference hall in Edinburgh where the speakers are giving the actual talks but their materials are also available in written, audio and visual forms eg. The Seven Spaces of Technology in School Environments Particularity – particular happenings are referenced which confirm the context of a conference. In the ITF10 conference, the particular happenings are the different speakers and their papers and these are announced by ‘tweets’ acting like ‘openings’ and others acting like ‘closings’ to the mini‐ narratives or micro‐level of the learning.
Intentional state entailment – protagonists must be endowed with intentional states
The protagonists are the main ‘tweeters’ and their intentional states are their ‘roles’ in the trend, the functions they serve in the ‘story’ and the function of the story itself. Without a full analysis, not all of the roles in #itf10 became apparent but three distinct roles were ‘storyteller’, a tweeter whose tweets (storyteller tweets) gave the whole ‘story’ of the conference speakers, a ‘questioner’ or discussion‐raiser (questioner tweets here) who encouraged reflection on the main ‘narrative and a ‘teacher’ who gave links, further information and praise to the participants (teacher tweets here). Hermeneutic composability – there should be a sender and receiver for a text so that it can be interpreted differently but still interpreted In this case, because the ‘text’ or narrative is multi‐layered, it is difficult to pin down the receivers – are they the other participants in the conference, the other ‘tweeters’, non‐ participant Twitter ‘followers’? Sometimes there is a direct tweet from one person to another when @ sign is used. Bruner (1991) says the accounts of events and protagonists are contained within a plot and the story is realised when all parts work together. The telling of a story and its comprehension as a story depend on the human capacity to process knowledge in this interpretive way. So the many different comments or ‘tweets’ of the content of the conference are based on this ‘interpretive way’.
Canonicity and breach – sequence of events can have all first three but need a precipitating event to be a narrative. Breachs of canonical – betrayed wife, fleeced innocent etc The conference and its agenda set the ‘canon’, the expectations of how the space will be used, how the speakers will behave, how the story will be told. Both participants and tweeters can break these conventions – by using the ‘space’ differently, exactly as one of the speakers at the conference was discussing. The ‘asides’ of the tweeters give an example of this – they set another ‘narrative’ in train. The first tweeter makes this comment:
It is at least 10 tweets further on, chronologically, that another participant ‘picks up’ this narrative and continues it (see below)
Referentiality – narrative ‘truth’ is judged by its verisimilitude The #itf10 trend reflects the ‘real’ events of the conference – not only that but the ‘tweets’ are openly self‐referential, reflecting openly on the act of ‘tweeting’ about the shared reality of the conference and taking part in ‘tweeting about it.
Genericness – recognisable kinds of narrative help readers to interpret the events. There appears to be a certain universality to representations of human plights in all cultures. Genres may shape our way of thinking about the world and the realities they depict. Since Twitter is a new ‘genre’ in the sense that it is not exactly a conversation, nor exactly a ‘blog’ or discussion thread, but a hybrid, does it change the mode of thought with the mode of ‘telling’? Is the quality of the reflection different? Normativeness – Bruner (1991) says “the normativeness of narrative is not historically or culturally terminal. Its form changes with the preoccupations of the age and the circumstances surrounding its production………Narrative……designed to contain uncannincess rather than resolve it.” Normativeness changes and has changed with Web 2.0 technologies. What is the cultural normativeness which applies to Twitter? The ‘uncanniness’ Bruner (1991) mentions seems to stem from the interactivity, the distributed narrative, the collective and multimodal ways digital storytelling uses.
Hermida (2010) characterises Twitter in this way, “…while messages on Twitter are atomic in nature, they are part of a distributed conversation. In aggregate, these streams of connected data contain the potential for real-time, collaborative and distributed storytelling” Pachler and Daly (2009) usefully add, “… the concept of narrative… a way in which individuals represent and organize experience in order to learn from it and make it shareable with others within social contexts.(my emphasis)” This is the basic premise of this paper – that although learning has become more constructivist and constructionist and knowledge and understanding more distributed, narrative is still the way we make information meaningful. Before I embark on an analysis of the specific data gathered I would like to review some of the literature on posthumanism and learning in order to give it a context. Hayles (1999) discusses the idea that for the posthuman information has become more important than materiality. On the other hand, a story‐based or narrative theory of posthumanism would say that ‘materiality’ or ‘body’ is provided by the narrative structure – it gives the human being a link or way of hooking into the information flow. If posthumans are not individual entities with individual wills and agency but part of distributed cognition where knowledge and storytelling are collectively constructed, has learning now become participatory and how does Twitter fit into this?
If the posthuman constructs embodiment as the instantiation of thought/information, are stories ‘peopled’ in order to put ideas across more meaningfully? Do we use archetypes and roles in our collaborative, participatory cyberculture to make sense of the flow of information? “With its chronological thrust, polymorphous digressions, located actions, and personified agents, narrative is a more embodied form of discourse than is analytically driven systems theory “ (Hayles 1999) Crossley (2002) maintains that everything we experience as human beings is made meaningful in relation to ‘activity’ which includes both ‘time’ and ‘sequence’. Since the essence of narrative or storytelling contains both these elements, we use narrative to impose structure on ‘the flow of experience’ (Crossley 2002). In particular, if we look at Twitter as one example of ‘activity’ within cyberculture, how is structure imposed on the ‘flow of experience’ within it and how do we learn from this experience? Is a kind of linearity or story structure imposed and can we find examples of this (see Bruner analysis p7)? Secondly, as Crossley (2002) again points out, “...cultures transmit to children knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities in their myths, fairytales, histories and stories (see Bettelheim 1976; Howard 1991; Polkinghorne 1988)” How is cyberculture transmitting knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities? In Hayles (1999) discussion
of the posthuman era as ‘disembodied information’, surely this information has no relationships, morality or meaning until it comes in contact with human cognition? Carr (1986) would agree with this, arguing that the reality of human experience, of life, is not a ‘mere’ or ‘pure’ sequence of isolated events, or chunks of information. Human experience, even posthuman experience, Carr (1986) would argue is ‘characterised by a complex temporal structure akin to the configuration of the storied form’. With this in mind the concept of ‘narrative learning environments’ have been examined by numerous theorists (Laudrillard et al 2000; Walker 2006; Mott et al 1999, Pachler and Daly 2009). Within these environments, learning can be examined by analysing the relationship between narrative structure and human thought. According to Campion (2006) narratology and cognitive psychology focus on different aspects of narrative – narratology on the structure of texts and cognitive psychology on the role of the reader and what the reader does with the text. When looking at Twitter, we can first consider how the ‘text’ is structured. Pradl (1984) adds “….without stories our experiences would merely be unevaluated sensations from an undifferentiated stream of events.” Campion (2006) reminds us that narratives are generally linear and there are consequences for comprehension in non‐ linearity, some of which we will examine in this paper. Brown (2000) in his turn, was convinced that the digital ‘story’ was created as a form of ‘bricolage’, a concept studied by Claude Levi‐Strauss. It related to the ability to find something – a tool, a document,
video – and use it to build something with the critical factor being the judgement necessary to become an effective ‘digital bricoleur’. “Distributed discussion offers many points of entry, both for readers and for co-writers. And it offers a new environment for storytelling.” (Levine 2008) Twitter, as a story ‘genre’, appears to function like a personal anecdote, rather than a crafted story – repetition, backtracking, interaction with others who share the story. The #itf10 conference Twitter ‘narrative’ was not linear – there were digressions, discussions and interactions as well as openings, middles and closings as in a typical story. Some participants were working as ‘bricoleurs’, some as ‘storytellers’ and some were providing the ‘problems’ and ‘issues’ which drove the ‘narrative’. The narrative was also self referential – talking about itself as a narrative as well as talking about the speaker or the conference (see full analysis, using some of Bruner’s (1991) ten features of narrative p7) However, “…narratives suppose such a double mechanism of story comprehension and construction of a situation model.” (Campion 2006) What the Twitter trend for the IT Futures conference was doing was constructing a ‘situation model’ both for the conference participants and the non‐participants trying to follow the action through the Twitter hashtag. The flow of commentary, particularly from the main ‘storyteller’ or commentator ‘kicking_k’ contextualised the events.
In terms of cognitive psychology, how were the ‘readers’ or participants using the Twitter hashtag? What function did it serve in organising, categorising and making sense of the ‘experience’ of the conference and the learning which was taking place? Out of the 100 or so attendees at the conference, only a third were actively taking part in tweeting about it. What part did this third of ‘tweeters’ play in the ‘narrative’ of the conference? Were the other two thirds of attendees using the Twitter ‘narrative’ as support (i.e. as ‘tools’) to understand and remember what the speakers were delivering? Certainly questions to be pursued in the future. Twitterers at ITF10 Narratology, on the other hand is more interested in how events are sequenced. “The ultimate goal of such analysis (narratology) is to move from a taxonomy of elements to an understanding of how these elements are arranged in actual narratives, fictional and nonfictional.” (Pradl 1984) The agenda for the conference and the order of the speakers impose a certain structure but what is said within each talk is often
repeated, re‐interpreted and elaborated on by the listeners eg
Side comments on same topic
So here one of the major participants, in fact as I have dubbed her, the storyteller kicking_k, tells us that a stool has been designed so that you can share the secret space of your ipad with a partner. Two other participants comment to each other about how ‘secret spaces’ are created – ironically, a Twitter trend in this case, and speculate about whether the secrecy is the method or means, not the content of the message. The participants seem to be ‘building a mental model’ (Herman 2002) of the significance of the narrative about secret spaces for learning. Further, to quote Campion (2006) on Schutz’s concept of typification ‐ when hearing new things, gaining new information, people try to fit it into existing models or frameworks of knowledge. In this case the participants are tweeting as they try to align their current activity with the new knowledge they are acquiring. They are also using it as a tool for reflection, another important aspect of learning.
Hlubinka (2003) concludes that storytelling is a natural avenue to reflective practice. She says that we tell stories about our work, our choices or the way we do things, externalising our experience to make sense of it and quotes Mattingley’s view that reflection can 'even catch a level of meaning that we only partially grasped while living through something' (Mattingley 1991, p235)
This certainly rings true for the use of Twitter in the context of the IT Futures conference. Participants use their tweets to tell the story of their conference experience but could use the archive of the hashtag to capture the true meaning of the contributions they listened to. At the moment, this potentially fruitful extension of the tweeting process is not being fully exploited, with hashtag tweets not being preserved unless, as in this circumstance, a participant takes responsibility for archiving it. “Every story is composed of a number of functions that are the same from one story to another,
and that generally appear in the same order. But all these functions are instantiated in particular characters, places, specific actions, etc.” (Campion 2006) In #itf10, as Herman (2002) would say, a ‘storyworld’, similarly to a linguistic discourse, is created, a mental model of who did what and with whom, when, where and why at the conference, the story being composed of functions and particular ‘characters’ such as kicking_k (storyteller) performing actions with this. Walker (2006) has a similar concept, which he calls ‘narrative trails’. He says that for museum visitors “Technology can help by automatically capturing a digital trail of a physical path, by visualising it, by enabling the learner to easily change and to add to it, and by making it easily accessible to others who can then edit and add to it as well.” He maintains that narrative trails have the potential to become a means by which we can create coherence in Web 2.0 contexts, where communication and content is ephemeral and distributed. In essence, this is what is happening with a Twitter trend or #hashtag on an event. This process is a conscious activity – see this set of tweets from #itf10,
The learning or narrative trail, the storyworld or macro‐level which is taking place on this hashtag is also happening on a micro‐level. The specific tweets and conference addresses local events and the macro‐level the structure of the overall idea of IT Futures, the website, the course, the lecturers etc.
The participants, both tweeters and non‐ tweeters can use the hashtag archive in Twapperkeeper or the ‘given storyworld built at a given time’ (Campion 2006) to understand and interpret at a later date what has gone on at the conference. As John Seely Brown (2000) says “learning…requires immersion in a community of practice”. However, Brown (2000), whose study looked at the way engineers learnt from others through storytelling, goes on to say “…knowing is brought forth in action, through participation”. The engineers in the study used radios to ‘add a fragment’ to the ongoing ‘story’ of a particular repair or problem, thus reviving what we referred to earlier, as the oral storytelling tradition. Perhaps this is also what is happening on the #itf10 hashtag? Are those who are actively participating in the conference by tweeting about what they are hearing, ‘knowing’ or ‘learning’ in a more long‐lasting and sustainable way than the other 75% of conference attendees who took part in a more traditional manner? What sort of learning is taking place in Twitter? Cousin (2005) suggests that the nature of the technology and the context of the internet
“...can produce nomadic learners who succumb to an endless search for a knowledge oasis” If, as Walker (2006) says “…learning is...a continually refining capacity for humans and other animals to intelligently navigate an ever changing social, cultural and physical world." does narrative and storytelling provide the ‘knowledge oasis’ Cousin (2005) describes, within the ‘ever changing social and cultural…world’ of cyberspace or is Twitter even what Gee (2003) calls an ‘affinity group’? Conclusions In this paper we have reviewed the literature associated with narratology, cognitive psychology, the use of Web 2.0 technologies and the nature of the posthuman in cyberculture in an attempt to discover how we use narrative to learn and make sense of the world. This review has raised many questions, particularly about the role of social media such as Twitter in the use of narrative, as well as the nature of learning and thought when done through the medium of social learning. However, from my brief analysis of data in the #itf10 Twitter trend, the findings regarding the nature of activity taking place were: • Tweeting at conferences is an activity undertaken by only a small proportion of attendees • A small number of participants (tweeters) make the majority of the tweets with the rest making 1‐5 contributions, on average. • The major participants (tweeters) perform certain roles or functions in
the ‘narrative trail’, or ‘intentional state entailment’ as Bruner’s features of narrative might call it. Tweets made by major participants provide a ‘structure’ which helps other participants ‘make sense’ of proceedings ie asking questions, providing links to similar material. Twitter ‘narrative’ is not linear, in a similar way to other digital ‘stories’. However, there is temporal sequencing, in that tweets are chronological – narrative diachronicity (Bruner 1991) The narrative is self conscious and self referential – conscious reflection? Twitter participants seem to be ‘building a mental model’ of the conference – beginnings of Bruner’s (1991) ‘normativeness’? They are aligning current activity with new knowledge
The findings in relation to Twitter as a form of context or structure in the learning process were as follows: • Hashtags create ‘coherence’ in the ephemeral Web 2.0 context for a conference such as IT Futures. The creation of this ‘coherence’ is a conscious process (Twapperkeeper) • The conference agenda imposes a rough external macro‐structure on ‘tweeting’ • The micro‐structure within the Twitter hashtag is provided by ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ tweets, acknowledging beginning and end of conference talks and local events like coffee breaks etc. In our brief analysis of one trend or hashtag in Twitter it does appear that we have used narrative and story to re‐invent ourselves as posthumans in the virtual world. The
‘distributed cognition’ Hayles attributes to the posthuman condition does appear to have some basis in fact. Rather than learning by merely being passive listeners and readers of stories, we are now also learning from creating, from taking part and from doing, not from receiving, interpreting and digesting. The nature of the medium, in this brief study, has determined, to some extent, the nature of this learning. Twitter’s functionality enables us to operate in ways which were not possible before. We can be both public and private, have a conversation or give a one‐way commentary, overlap and repeat but still be part of an overall structure which is making sense of the ‘world’ around us. However, a much wider analysis of a range of data from Twitter needs to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn about whether new ways of using narrative to learn are producing a form of posthuman distributed cognition. Unfortunately these questions and many others raised in the paper could not be answered within the scope of this study. Fruitful areas to pursue in the future would be to compare the experience and learning of non‐tweeters at conferences, alongside the tweeters. Are those experiences fundamentally different in nature and quality? Another area of interest is Walker’s (2006) concept of the ‘narrative trail’, Herman’s (2002) idea of the ‘storyworld’ and the ‘knowledge oasis’ Cousin (2005) describes – are they one and the same and how would they work in the context of Twitter? A final area might be the participatory, interactive nature of digital storytelling and the role of the ‘bricoleur’ in this process. How do these two areas link or overlap to contribute to the distributed cognition of the posthuman world of cyberculture?
Posthuman cyberculture seems to have expanded the bounds of the traditional story and our sense of reality beyond the material world into a sort of ‘augmented reality’ game. No longer does one storyteller or author narrate for one reader, listener or viewer to interpret and relate it to their own subjective reality. The nature of this new learning environment is participatory, interactive and collaborative and the ‘reality’ it represents extends beyond the virtual realm into the material world and back again. Is narrative still serving its traditional role of transmitting knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities? At this stage many of the storytelling tools and mechanisms are too untried to be sure. One thing is for certain – patterns of relationships are no longer the same and that will certainly have shaped meanings and moralities. Our manners, interactions and power relationships have changed – in the Twitter trend we analysed academics, students, administrative staff and business people all interacted and conversed on the basis of intellectual equality in the virtual space, in a way which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Perhaps narrative has enabled cyberspace and cyberculture to become, as Hand (2008) points out “…an increasingly important force for social inclusion and empowerment, interactive citizenship, and participatory democracy in the post-postmodern world (cf. Dyson 1998; Leadbeater 1999; Rheingold 1994; Rifkin 2001).”
Appendix 1 Twitter is a microblogging tool. Microblogging is a Web 2.0 technology and a new form of blogging that allows users to publish online brief text updates, less than 140-200 characters, sometimes images, too. The posts can be edited and accessed online, as SMS, by e-mail, via instant messaging clients, and by third party applications.
No of times tweeted 1-3 4 - 15 16 - 20 21 - 60 More than 60 tweets
No of people 19 5 3 2 1
% of total tweets made 5% 8.1% 11.5% 21.3% 53.2%
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