This week’s articles:
- “Afterword: Communities of Readers, Clusters of Practices” – Jenkins (2008)
- “Why Dieters Flock to Instagram” – Katie Rogers, The New York Times
“Afterword: Communities of Readers, Clusters of Practices”
This final chapter of Jenkins’ work, discusses the idea participatory culture. Not only the importance of this type of learning for ourselves and our students, but also ways to instill this type of culture in our learning and the learning that occurs in our classrooms.
Participatory learning is one in which individuals are able to contribute to the learning of others, and they are left with a sense that their participation was meaningful in some way. This description made me reflect a lot on my learning in this course. My learning in this class is made meaningful not only by the work that I do but also by the work that others contribute. I think that educational communities like this one are so helpful.
An important inclusion in this chapter is Jenkins’ acknowledgement of the population of learners that are perhaps ‘left behind’ because of their lack of access to technology and the resources to be constantly connected. I think it important and helpful that he introduces these following terms:
The digital divide: limits on technological access
The participation gap: limits on social and cultural experiences
While it is the dream that all schools, and therefore all students/learners, have access to the same resources and are able to learn these new (and wonderful) literacies to the same extent, I feel there is a long way to go until this happens. Of course, this idea is not one of focus in Jenkins’ work, but it is absolutely one to keep in mind.
“Why Dieters Flock to Instagram”
Although I am not extremely involved in all types of social media, I love Instagram! I admit, I like being able to share snapshots of cool experiences with my friends, or share parts of my life with people I have met abroad. I was pleased to find an article that combined Instagram with my theme (and personal interest) Health and Nutrition.
In her article, Katie Rogers mentions an academic study called “Friending Your Way Thin.” This study focused on participants in an online weight-loss community. (An online weight-loss community is where people can post pictures, recipes, motivational thoughts, etc for others and can receive the same from others. Participation can be anonymous or other members can know who you are, it depends on the site.) The findings of this study state that the individuals who were more active online lost more weight overall. Incredible!
But why is an online presence, specifically on Instagram, so helpful to those seeking a healthier lifestyle? Rogers thinks that social media is the “modern version of sticking photos on the fridge.” That makes sense.
I do have a few personal thoughts on this matter:
- I worry that Instagram and other social media would create a false sense of what people should aim for in their personal lives. Just like magazine covers give young girls the wrong body image, so too can easily accessible hashtags that focus on #beachbody.
- I applaud those who are able to post “before and after” pictures of themselves and continue to post pictures throughout their weight-loss/healthy lifestyle journey. If I were in their shoes I would probably not be comfortable with sharing so much.
Overall however, if you find something that continues to give you motivation, stick with it!