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Beyond the Echo Chamber: Pedagogical Tools for Civic Engagement Discourse and Reflection

How can educators leverage blogs and other social media spaces to encourage a reflective, critical discourse about civic engagement that fosters a true learning exchange over promoting one’s own ideas? This article reports upon a single case study of the “Community Engagement Learning Exchange,” a multi-author blog on civic engagement. Through qualitative content analysis and expert interviews with the blogger community we explored the interaction of digital citizenship and civic online discourse, in order to map out civic engagement pedagogies that make use of blogs or other shared writing / media tools. The content analysis of blog posts indicates that high verbosity scores for factual orientation, personalization and interactivity correlate with broader reach. The interview material was condensed into concept maps that identified specific themes for digital citizenship (inevitable, easy, transparent, technologically diverse and changing, unequal, divisive, difficult, superficial) and civic engagement pedagogies (content, format, authenticity, tone, listening, exemplary conduct, accountability, hope). Overall, in the community analyzed, ground rules and a shared writing style lead to discussions and learning processes that transcend differences in views, backgrounds and opinions. Further efforts to support and measure the right amount of friction that exemplifies diverse and even clashing opinions while keeping an online community together emerged from the case study as a future area of practice development for digital citizenship.

Cite As:

Panke, S. & Stephens, J. (2018). Beyond the Echo Chamber: Pedagogical Tools for Civic Engagement Discourse and Reflection. Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 248 – 263