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Our Hackjam: Hacking the Story

Our Hackjam: Hacking the Story

Written by Amy Stornaiuolo
February 04, 2013

Last month I went to the Educon conference at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia for the first time and was so excited to see all of the amazing work being done by educators to incorporate digital literacies into their practices and classrooms. I was particularly inspired by the hackjam run by Meenoo Rami and Chad Sansing (watch it live here or read about Chad’s reflections on it here). Immediately I saw how this activity might be a generative one for my digital literacies class at the University of Pennsylvania to help us consider more carefully the ideas of participatory learning, composing as making, and hacker literacies.

One of the central ideas I was hoping we could explore was how play and Making can help to transform our teaching/learning practices. Hacking (or tweaking, reworking, or disrupting) dominant narratives and technologies is a kind of current participatory practice we have been contemplating this semester. So, as Chad recommends, we began with the material in order to then draw metaphors from this material work to the hacking of our own practices and broader systems (e.g., schooling).

So we hacked children’s books! Some of the teachers in the room felt uncomfortable destroying beloved favorites:

Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:25

but others found it liberating to deconstruct these narratives:

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Small groups began by meeting and reading the stories and then considering how they could disrupt the narratives, the linearity of the print medium, and the ideologies of the stories (the group who explored Disney’s Mulan text were particularly troubled by the essentialized gender and cultural tropes). Groups pondered a variety of material objects I brought to work with as potential tools for disruption (we were also located in a computer lab so they had digital resources also at their disposal):

Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:26

Groups then spent the next 30 minutes negotiating how their revised stories would take shape, and they painted, glued, cut, and crafted their joint projects:

Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:24Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:24

We then went around the room and shared the ‘final’ products, many playing with temporality, linearity, intertextuality, and revoicing:

Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:26Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:25Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-03 18:24Image originally uploaded on 2013-03-04 09:23

All of the digital literacies participants are blogging this semester as part of the course, and some of them offer insightful reflections on this hackjam experience, like pondering “A change in Arthur-ship” or “Imagination.”The link to all of our class blogs are below–we would love people to comment or offer suggestions/ideas for extending these activities. 

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