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Virtual Convergence: Exploring Culture and Meaning in Playscapes


by Sandra Schamroth Abrams, Jennifer Rowsell & Guy Merchant — 2017

Background: Research into digital practices and cultures repeatedly calls attention to the complexity of communication spaces and meaning-making practices. With the blurring of boundaries between online and offline, these entangled practices involve the interweaving of human, material, semiotic, and discursive practices.

Purpose: This introductory article builds on theoretical work by Huizinga (1950/2014) and Appadurai (2001) and presents the concept of playscapes to help situate the overall collection of articles in this special issue, Virtual Convergence: Synergies in Virtual Worlds and Videogames Research.

Research Design: This analytic essay examines virtual worlds and videogames and offers the concept of playscapes to expand the discourse about space and finitudes of practice.

Conclusions: Playscapes extend current conversations of learning, transmedia, and play ecologies because playscapes can support the discussion of entangled meaning making across space and time, all the while acknowledging the situated nature of the activity.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 11, 2017, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22162, Date Accessed: 9/22/2017 1:05:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Sandra Abrams
    St. John's University
    E-mail Author
    SANDRA SCHAMROTH ABRAMS is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at St. John's University in New York. Her examinations of digital literacies and videogaming focus on layered meaning making and agentive learning. Her research suggests that the nuances of digital and related practices can disrupt convention and provide new avenues for pedagogical discovery. Her work appears in Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, The Reading Teacher, and Journal of Literacy Research. She is the author of Integrating Virtual and Traditional Learning in 6-12 Classrooms: A Layered Literacies Approach to Multimodal Meaning Making, coauthor of Conducting Qualitative Research of Learning in Online Spaces, and coeditor of Bridging Literacies With Videogames.
  • Jennifer Rowsell
    Brock University
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER ROWSELL is professor and Canada Research Chair at Brock University’s Faculty of Education. Her research interests include research in schools and communities doing multimodal work with children and youth; exploring how younger generations think and interact through technologies, videogames, and immersive environments; and longitudinal work in homes connecting artifacts and material worlds with literacy and identity practices. She is co–series editor with Cynthia Lewis of the Routledge Expanding Literacies in Education series and the digital literacy editor for The Reading Teacher. Her latest books are The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies, coedited with Kate Pahl, and Literacy Lives in Transcultural Times with Rahat Zaidi.
  • Guy Merchant
    Sheffield Hallam University
    E-mail Author
    GUY MERCHANT is professor of literacy in education at Sheffield Hallam University. He is particularly interested in the interrelations between children and young people, new technology, and literacy. He was codirector of the Economic and Social Research Council seminar series on virtual literacies and lead editor of its main output, “Virtual Literacies: Interactive Spaces for Children and Young People” (2013). Recent publications include New Literacies Around the Globe (2014) and Literacy, Media, Technology (2016). Guy is also a founding editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.
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