After reviewing all my data, there are many patterns and themes that emerged so I will start with the main themes related to my research questions and then discuss the themes that are related as well as the context for some of the weaker data sources – hangout and google group chats. Communication, collaboration, and interaction seem to be the major themes that emerge from data. Communication includes how and what teachers and students communicate as well as how the communication evolves throughout the experience. Collaboration is evident in how the teachers designed and supported the experience for their students but there is also a strong relationship between collaboration and interaction. I will visually map out how the themes are subtopics are interconnected and I will use quotes or examples from the chat, interviews, my observations, and student wiki pages to demonstrate how the themes were evident in my data collection.
I used post-it notes to map on the wall so I could move and re-sort themes or group common patterns. The colors did represent interactions: blue – between and among students, purple – from teachers to students, pink – from students to teachers, and from that standpoint alone it was very interesting. I am sure students and teachers also interacted outside of the game but it’s an interesting look at the pattern within a virtual game!
As I read through the game chat, I began to gain familiarity with the players, the language and voice used, and interactions that students had with each other as well as with their teachers. Interactions seem to expand beyond the assigned teams (and respective classes) and enable the collaboration to also increase between students. An interesting thing that I observed and read in the chat, was that teachers were assessing student work in the game during the experience. The feedback was immediate and students were busy with other tasks while they waited to be assessed.
Teachers also began to encourage students to communicate primarily through the in-game chat (versus speaking to one another in the classroom); the open nature of these conversations meant that they could be monitored by teachers and other students could “listen in”. Other students could (and did) also join your conversation or give suggestions relevant to the topics or issues being discussed.
The culture of the game evolved and communication, collaboration, and types of interactions were an important aspect of that culture. Some important elements that were evident in the themes were:
- Social communication, collaboration and interactions; some things that emerged included self-regulation or reporting of behavior, peer monitoring and interventions (there was some but not a lot of “tattling” to the teacher), and teachers played a very influential role in how students communication, collaborated and interacted with one another and with the teachers.
- Language – a common language that emerged from the experience; words and phrases, greetings, routines, etc. that became commonly used in the game
- Helping became a collective responsibility and expectation without seeming burdensome; students helped readily and easily in the game and later they all began to coordinate roles in helping the community.
Student wiki pages were all very similar (if there were completed by the time my data collection ended) and had a common format and purpose – to report what students had built. I had expected to see more reflective journaling but because the students were highly active in the chat, it was a good way to examine the experience in their own words.