IJLM Example 4: birth of an activist

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IJLM Example 4: birth of an activist

A student describes how an avatar can help her fight societal stereotypes and preconceived ideas.

Example 4: birth of an activist

This student is emotional about the importance of the message she wants to convey. She wants to study to be a lawyer; she likes debating and ‘standing up for people’. During the class animation exercise, she encountered discriminative comments against her ethnic group that frustrated her. The software allowed her to put images and words together to produce a message with great impact, as told by a schoolgirl avatar wearing her uniform. She enrolled the help of a peer to put together the animation clip below in which she describes both the problem and her interpretation of how the solution can be reached - by involving the very people against which the prejudice is acting.Reflective Scale analysis on the clip transcript showed that the student’s processing activity rapidly moved from level 1 (description of the issue) into level 2 (responding by expressing emotions), level 3 (relating by identifying what needs changing). The analysis then uncovers how the student reasons by using previous learning (level 4) and reconstructs (level 5) by taking ownership over the issue and making a personal commitment.

Observational material: 1. Student interviews (above right): The student is emphatic that she can get her message of ethnic inclusion and prejudice decrease using narrative tools such as the animation software. 2. School Principal comments (left): The school Principal recounts how a culture of relationship building and student centered learning is at the core of the school philosophy. Her classroom visits revealed children deeply engaged in learning. This reinforces the ‘license’ to learn in a playful way. She especially supports of such animation tools in the school because it is a communication tool congruent with the NZ Curriculum to develop key competencies such as ‘Thinking’, ‘Relating to others’ and ‘Using symbols, text and technology’. She also observed that teacher engagement is growing, even with some of the more technology-reluctant teachers. The Principal goes on observing that the class full of teachers felt like a class full of children: laughing, having fun, engaged. ‘Without recognising it, they were modelling exactly what goes on in a class when you get something new’. The teachers presenting the animation project had prepared a presentation using avatars to introduce the staff meeting which was up and running when teachers were entering the room ‘that sold the idea’ even before they started their talk! The Principal observed that once teachers are engaged on principle, the challenge will be to take them to the ‘next level’. The Principal made the commitment to make time in the school for more teachers to get hands on experience at using the animation tool. She also observed that two teachers who were not involved at first in the initial project literally ‘muscled themselves in’ and started using avatars in their classrooms just because they had witnessed their colleagues using it and getting great student engagement and outputs.

Click here for the Diver analysis of the animated clip

The combined Reflective Scales Analysis and additional observational data show that this student reached high reflective levels. In her interview the student elaborate what she intends to do to overcome the prejudice obstacle she is suffering from: she is planning her career as an advocate for such causes. "I want to be part of the solution, not the problem". This reinforces the transitional value of her Avatar work.


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