Tween Super-Users: Lessons for Online Programs in the Library
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Why do some tweens become prolific users of online communities while others opt out? Using the data from the Sci-Dentity program (scidentity.umd.edu), qualities of high-contributing tweens (super-users) are compared to their less involved peers to determine if there are best practices in online communities that could be replicated in other contexts to encourage increased participation from all users.
Sci-Dentity is a three-year research project of the iSchool at the University of Maryland College Park, funded by the National Science Foundation. In Sci-Dentity, tweens from middle schools in an urban, Mid-Atlantic school system attend afterschool science-fiction writing sessions designed to engage and assess their interest in science technology, engineering, and math. Participants are part of a private online community where they share their writing, videos, images and other artifacts, and are actively encouraged as co-designers to suggest changes to both the site and program content.
Some participants have become deeply engaged in various aspects of the online program, including both contributing content and suggesting design changes to the site. This study will look at which tweens are highly motivated to contribute content and which students feel most empowered to suggest changes. Means of assessment include interviews, site usage statistics, and recorded observation.
Examining the qualities of super-users will provide practitioners with the information needed to create programs that foster tween participation and empowerment in online programs. The findings will be represented through participant’s artifacts, graphs of surveys, usage statistics and student feedback, and images of participant-driven changes to the site.