Mind the gap: Differences between the aspirational and the actual in an online community of learners (Starts @ P.340)

July 4, 2011


Karen Brennan


This paper explores the differences between the aspirational (what designers desire) and the actual (what participants do) in an online learning community of young people, using the Scratch website as a case study. Interviews with members of the MIT Scratch Team and two years of ethnographic observation of the site inform the discussion of these differences. The paper presents four tensions that arise between the aspirations for this community of learners and the realities of actual participation: (1) enabling exploration of the personal vs. pitfalls of the personal, (2) fostering meaningful interactions with others vs. lack of respect, (3) supporting diverse creative expression vs. conflicts in interests, and (4) encouraging a sense of group belonging vs. seeking attention.

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