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Chris Bailey

Investigating the lived experience of a children's virtual world after school club


Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

My research is based on a year-long ethnographic study of an after-school club, following a group of Y6 children constructing a 'virtual community' using a video game called Minecraft.

This project is framed by work on New Literacy Studies (Street, 2003) and ‘multiliteracies’ (Cope and Kalantzis, 2000), which shift focus away from the more traditional concept of a single literacy, towards a consideration of literacies as an evolving set of social practices.

This study sits at the intersection of two main bodies of literature: firstly, that which relates to school-based study of children’s interactions and developing relationships and, secondly, the body of research that examines virtual world gameplay

This research intends to:

  • Illuminate the experience and motivations of individuals who are compelled, motivated and engaged by participation in virtual world play.
  • Articulate how identities are formed and meanings are made by participants interacting in and around social, virtual environments.
  • Explore how children negotiate complex relationships between material and virtual place and space.

Key references

Burnett, C. & Bailey, C. (2014). Conceptualising collaboration in hybrid sites: Playingminecrafttogether and apart in a primary classroom. In: Burnett, C., Davies, J., Merchant, G. & J. Rowsell (ed.).New literacies around the globe: Policy and pedagogy..Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.

COPE, Bill, KALANTZIS, Mary and New London Group (2000).Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures.New York, Routledge.

GEE, James Paul (2007).What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. second edition: Revised and updated edition.Palgrave MacMillan.

MARSH, Jackie (2010). Young children’s play in online virtual worlds.Journal of early childhood research,8(1), 23-39

MERCHANT, Guy (2010). 3D virtual worlds as environments for literacy learning.Educational research,52(2), 135-150.

STREET, Brian (2003). What’s “new” in new literacy studies? Critical approaches to literacy in theory and practice.Current issues in comparative education,5(2), 77-91.

Director of studies
Professor Cathy Burnett

Professor Guy Merchant

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