Remapping learning geographies for youth within and beyond the public library
Hollett, Tyler Shannon
This dissertation describes the design of an informal, a media-rich learning space for youth in a public library. It details how youth transformed—or made—that space into a place for themselves. As such, this dissertation illustrates youth place-making for learning, or the ways in which youth negotiated and subsequently transformed this place of learning for their own enrichment. Youth place-making emerged within—and beyond—an author-led program called Metro: Building Blocks (MBB). The program challenged teen participants to build authentic neighborhoods in the city of Metro within the familiar video game Minecraft. Data for this dissertation—including audio, video, photographs, and fields notes—was collected throughout the duration of MBB, which ran from January through June of 2014.Thirteen teenaged participants took part in MBB activities, five of whom are featured in-depth. MBB was a deliberate attempt to both adopt and challenge the principles of connected learning guiding youth programming in informal learning settings, such as libraries and museums. Thus this dissertation is particularly concerned with the ways in which learning moves and circulates within—and beyond—discrete settings. It asks questions about 1) interest, approaching interest-development less as a linear progression, and more as a fluid, emergent production. It also asks questions 2) about the topography of these settings, including the (socio-affective) rhythms coursing through them. Finally, it asks questions about 3) the forms of civic engagement that these settings can foster, following the spatiotemporal contours of participants’ engaged citizenship. This dissertation draws on theories of place, mobility, and affect to understand youth place-making. In doing so, this study challenges the imagined geographies of learning, or entrenched beliefs of where—and when—learning takes place. Following the movement and circulation of experiences, ideas, and bodies necessitated a suite of mobile methods. Thus, this dissertation contributes mobile methods such as ethnographic community and temporal circling, while honing in analytically on refrains and felt focal moments Mobile analyses reveal 1) How youth interests move and circulate through passengering, mutability, and residue; 2) How learning topographies become amplified, and then propagate, including rhythmic oscillations; and 3) How civic engagement moves and circulates across space, time, and scale, or what this study refers to as civic geographies. These findings point toward implications for pedagogy and mentoring in informal, media-rich settings, as well as the design of those settings themselves, with an emphasis on place-making for learning.