Sunday, April 13, 2008

Levels of social participation-- a museum example

Here is a great explanation of the levels of social participation that are possible within teaching and learning environments. This example was based around the museum experience, but this works very well for lots of different environments.

These levels are similar to what I have described in terms of learning environments, but what they still focus on the the role of the museum participant in the role of "student." I am eager to elaborate the role of the student as active in the teaching as well as learning process. (See my roles of learners.

My point is that we want to foster not only increased engagement with the content and with peers around the learning, but we also want to foster increased engagement in "teaching participation." This means creating content for more novice learners, providing feedback and review of other's work, creating new learning experiences and so forth. In the museum experience this would mean being both museum participant and also museum curator.

addition-- Since the first post, Nina Simon has written some additional ideas about social participation. In this article she asks an important question about whether or not this is a hierarchy of social participation. She then tries to capture the essence of what a designer is trying to create at each level of participation. This results in the following outline:

  1. CONTENT (What is being discussed/shared/shown/explored?)
  2. INTERACTION (How does the user engage? What do they do?)
  3. NETWORK (How do users link to one another?)
  4. SOCIAL BENEFIT (How much value does one user get from the participation of other users?)
  5. COLLECTIVE ACTION (How much do people work together?)
I think this list points out a variety of problems-- one is the focus shifts between topic 3 and 4. "Social benefit" is an emergent property that is the result of particular types of "interaction" opportunities. The most common are reviews and ratings that allow other people to see what other think or are doing in regards to particular content. The main point of this level that some types of "user-generated content" gets added to the content that the museum created in level #1. I would call this level something like: "Participant Content" and maybe call the first level "Museum Content."

The Collective Action is even more problematic because this is a whole lot of stuff packed together and labeled as one type of activity or one aspect of design. I would suggest that there are many levels and activities embedded in this idea. Simon suggests that she has some type of social action or social justice. (Maybe I am reading too much into this.) Collective action could be a discussion about a special topic of interest, a gathering of additional information, links to websites, the creation of a unique wiki on a museum topic. An agreement to work together on Wikipedia on a topic of interest, to solicit donations for the museum, and on and on. Each of these "collective actions" requires a variety of design and interaction tools. This is worth museums thinking about and building, but I don't think it can be captured in one level.

1 comment:

wiepke said...

I agree. Simons modell is still considering on site participation, that's why she isn't too specific about the last level. I suggest to split level 5 in collective exchange (whether of information or opinion)and collective reach out (whether in the real space or other tools like wikis). a look into other research directions like discourse analysis should help.