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Children’s Virtual Play Worlds

Culture, Learning, and Participation

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Edited By Anne Burke and Jackie Marsh

As children’s digital lives become more relevant to schools and educators, the question of play and learning is being revisited in new and interesting ways. Children’s Virtual Play Worlds: Culture, Learning, and Participation provides a more reasoned account of children’s play engagements in virtual worlds through a number of scholarly perspectives, exploring key concerns and issues which have come to the forefront. The global nature of the research in this edited volume embraces many different areas of study from school based research, sociology, cultural studies, psychology, to contract law showing how children’s play and learning in virtual spaces has great potential and possibilities.
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6. “’Cause I know how to get friends—plus they like my dancing”: (L)earning the Nexus of Practice in Club Penguin

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CHAPTER SIX

“’Cause I Know How to Get Friends—Plus They Like My Dancing”

(L)earning the Nexus of Practice in Club Penguin



KAREN E. WOHLWEND AND TOLGA KARGIN

Introduction: Play, Collaboration, and Literacies in Virtual and Physical Peer Cultures

What happens when young children sit side by side while their avatars play together on global playgrounds in virtual worlds? In this chapter, we examine activity in an afterschool computer club in which children play in Club Penguin (Disney), a social networking and gaming virtual world website where players are represented online as penguin avatars. Here, we focus on the ways children teach each other a range of digital literacy practices in order to read screens, gather social goods, and send messages to other avatars as they help each other understand how to participate in an online peer culture. We suggest this mediating and mediated activity in a virtual world depends upon their face-to-face cooperation, situated in peer-teaching practices that were common in computer affinity groups in the peer culture in one afterschool program. The interrelationships among peer cultures, popular media, and digital literacy practices of adolescents and young adults have been heavily researched (Black & Steinkuehler, 2009). Many pre-teens and adolescents access and wield spatialized literacies (Leander & Sheehy, 2004) that blur boundaries across time and space as they participate in social media or online games in complex digital networks (Leander & McKim, 2003)...

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