Investigating Identity Becoming Trajectories Within the Interplay of Spatial and Social Dimensions of Affinity Spaces

Project Number
OER 31/09 DH

Project Duration
September 2010 - February 2014


In this proposal we study on how participants in Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMPOG), in particular World of Warcraft (WoW), engage in the identity becoming process. The work of identity has gained significance in the last few years especially in Discourse Identity where individual identities are connoted as changing, unstable, multiple, dialogic, and relative to others. In a fast changing 21st century, educators are recognizing the significance of identity work as individuals participate in multiple roles manifested through performative actions and dialogue. There is much to appropriate in terms of the design principles relating to identity becoming (formations) within the social participatory activities and structures through which the individual-social dialectics occur. This study aims to develop a petite learning theory on how identities are (socially) constructed in the context of spatial and social ''placedness'' by unpacking the relationships between context and identity. It also aims to describe how participants in these new media environments move seemingly seamlessly between online and offline affinity spaces, yet maintaining coherent construals of self. From the study, we endeavour to develop a set of design principles for learning environments that mitigate between new media and school settings in a complementary fashion. We intend to study the what and how of traversing various boundaries and affinity space, and the implications such traversals have on the learning sciences. Learning, in this context, is characterized by authorship, reflexitivity, and personal agency, which is in contrast to formal educational settings where youth are far more often asked to internalize and accept information rather than create and challenge ways of knowing. This presents a challenge for education institutions in that, they will require new institutional practices and ways of engaging digitally-savvy youth in learning activities that will not only be seen as relevant to their out-of-school practices but will also better serve them as digital 21st century citizens beyond their schooling years. To reiterate, the goals of our research are to: - Identify the design principles of how social participatory activities and structures engage learners in the identity becoming process - Develop a learning theory of identity integral to ''placedness'' in terms of spatial and social dimensions in affinity spaces and - Develop design principles which contribute to learning design and pedagogy of the complementary interplay between formal and informal environments. This project seeks answers to the following issues: - What are the participatory frameworks (activities, tasks, and relations) across socio-spatial dimensions and how are they manifested on an evolutionary basis? - What are the possible developmental trajectories of youths' construction of projective identities and how can we characterize their ongoing process of becoming? - What are the salient characteristics and design principles for designing learning environments which complement both online and offline affinity spaces? - How can our understandings of identity and socio-spatial dimensions of cognition be capitalized for the design of school-classroom pedagogical practices?

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