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Depicting Dinkytown: collaborative inquiry (ci.5410.2a)

My experience researching about Dinkytown for our collaborative wiki project started out with some informal Google searches, which resulted in pretty much the same links that everyone else had found and already added to the wiki. Another obstacle for me was figuring out what I wanted to focus on for my research. Knowing that we would eventually turn our research findings into some form of a video blog entry increased the stakes in terms of process and audience. It’s one thing to throw words up onto the screen and another to weave together sound, image, and text to create some cohesive narrative. For some reason the fact that it will be a video makes the sense of audience seem larger and less forgiving.

Anxieties aside, I finally decided to “write what I know? and do a feature on Cumming’s Books, an independent, used-book store where I used to work. Focusing on something I already knew, allowed me to reallocate my energies to the actual research and production process.

Articulating how this research unfolded is somewhat difficult considering I’ve never researched with a visual end-product in mind, which is something to keep in mind as I consider assigning a similar project to my students. Some of my questions include…

To what extent did images influence my research question?
How much did that desired image or mood influence what data I gathered?
To what extent is there a visual discourse or grammar already shaping how I view my topic?
Will my images convey the same depth for the viewers that they contain for me?
How will I use language to project meaning into images and vice verse?

While I still fumble in my attempts to answer these questions, I’ve found Jason Ranker’s (English Journal, 97.1) description of fifth graders’ digital video production to be a helpful start. In his case study, he describes the literacy practices involved in video composition/production as moving “markedly into the visual realm? (2007, p. 78).

Much like the students in Ranker’s study, my reading of online texts was nonlinear, a navigating from one site to the next via a network of hyperlinked texts. McNabb et al. (2005) describe this type of buffet reading as requiring the reader to quickly evaluate the “value, sufficiency, relevancy and validity? of information in order to filter and sift through various sources. I don’t know how well I was able to evaluate the sites I visited, but I would agree that my clicking through sites was an attempt to move through the enormous amounts of energy. Furthermore, knowing that my end-product would be visual, influence my evaluation of these sources. For example, some sources did not have very informative text, yet I found the images to be helpful.
See also my other explorations in online inquiry...

my research wiki, nonikwe's rabbit hole, devoted to digital literacies. I just started this wiki this month. My hope is that it will keep me organized.

(Below is the product of a new feature I just discovered, wherein I can link articles directly to my blog at the click of a button, while I'm doing research using the university databases/indexes. I don't fully comprehend the utility of this, but I'm sure it will come in handy eventually.)

Designing Meaning with Multiple Media Sources: A Case Study of an Eight-Year-Old Student's Writing Processes

Author: Ranker Jason J
From: Research in the teaching of English
Date: 20075
Volume: 41
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0034-527X
Pages: 402-434


Interesting. I'm less aware of audience with video. Maybe because I'm hypercritical of my writing, considering that I'm supposed to be expert at it. Video composition is a cool new things I'm trying, so I don't have to worry as much about its effect on the audience. However, I have been more aware of video as composition since we started vlogging...