Taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the contemporary 21st century environment for museums, education and society, a theory-based framework, the Museum Multiliteracies Affinity Flow (MMAF) framework of practice, is proposed for 21st century schooling.
The MMAF, relies on a creative overlap between the theory of the New London Group (1996) for a pedagogy of multiliteracies, the theory of affinity spaces proposed by Gee (2004) and flow theory by Csikszentmihalyi (1988), adapted by Kiili et al. (2014), for educational games.
Figure 1 illustrates the framework and the different overlapping synergies within and across.
Figure 1: The Museum Multiliteracies Affinity Flow (MMAF) framework of practice (Savva, 2019)
The MMAF is informed by the theory and practice of multiliteracies pedagogy as developed by the New London Group (1996, 2000) and Cope and Kalantzis (2000, 2005, 2006, 2012).
In the pedagogy of multiliteracies, learning is considered a process of meaning making, during which learners continually reshape themselves. Meaning making and any other semiotic activity are treated as ‘a matter of Design’ (NLG, 1996, 73).
Multiliteracies theory offers the notion of design to describe the codes and conventions of meaning-making modes and posits that there are six identified modes of meaning showing regularities or grammars (NLG, 1996, 74). These existing design elements can be linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial or multimodal designs (NLG, 1996, 73–74, 2000).
Drawing on the concept of design, we can speak of it as either the way in which a text has been designed, or to the process involved in designing (Cloonan, 2007, 19). The latter allows educators to improve their instructional practices and get their students, especially those who are culturally and linguistically diverse, motivated in different topics through engagement in technologyenhanced museum learning.
Overall, the long-term objective of MAS is to make 21st century partnerships between museums and learning institutions more efficient and productive and let the educational community and students share and learn through a technology-enhanced virtual museum learning trusted platform.
The goals and ideas of multiliteracies pedagogy could be served only if a holistic approach to schooling applies. To elaborate on the latter, the theory proposed by Gee known as affinity spaces is brought into the foreground of the discussion for a reconceptualisation of schools as learning environments in the 21st century.
Gee has opposed the traditional schooling system that persists and promotes dominant discourses and hierarchies and suggests an alternative view of schools. To make a claim on the previous, Gee is building on Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s (1991) concept of communities of practice, but in contrast to their definition of thinking about groups of people as being either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of a community, he suggests that we think of spaces where people interact. An affinity space is a place – virtual or physical – where informal learning takes place. Spaces can be real tangible spaces, like a classroom, or virtual spaces, like an online discussion forum or game.
The point is that this shared space exists for people to interact and share their ideas based on common interests, endeavours, goals, or practices, irrelevant of race, gender, age, disability, or social class (Gee, 2004, 67). Gee (2005) calls these kinds of spaces ‘semiotic social spaces’ (SSS). Semiotic involves the study of signs and symbols.
The MMAF framework offers an example of a creative synergy between the notion of affinity spaces with multiliteracies pedagogy to provide a teaching and learning approach that could apply to the goals and practices of a 21st century school learning context.
A concrete instantiation of how to design effective affinity spaces, results from examining flow theory in relation to IVLEs. Kiili et al. (2014) discuss flow framework for educational games, which have been adapted to the MMAF framework.
The elements of flow can be divided in two groups: flow antecedents (the colored star elements in Figure 1), and the Flow state. The flow antecedents (clear goals, challenge, feedback, sense of control, playability), are factors that contribute to the flow state and therefore it is important to consider them when designing a virtual learning environment.
The dimensions of flow state (concentration, intrinsic rewards, loss of self-consciousness, time distortion), are more abstract and describe mostly the feelings of the flow experience. The white elements surrounding the star (context, representation of content, learning objectives, learner characteristics, pedagogy), reflect meaningful factors that affect the design of the learning experience and virtual-based learning artefacts.
Kiili et al. (2014) propose five mind lenses: (1) The sensing mind, (2) the processing mind, (3) the integrating mind, (4) the relating mind, and (5) the transferring mind lenses. These lenses, are founded on principles of cognitive load theory (Kirschner, 2002), multimedia learning theory (Mayer, 2004) and constructivism (Jonassen & Land, 2002), and correlate with the knowledge processes described above within the Learning by Design Model by Cope and Kalantzis.
Within the MMAF framework, Kiili et al.’s (2014) five sets of mind lenses, provide means to consider IVLEs elements systematically from the learning and interaction perspectives and relates flow dimensions to learning processes. The abovementioned psychological factors of challenges, skills, engagement and immersion are considered critical characteristics of meaningful and deep learning experiences (Faiola et al. 2013), and the MMAF framework applies them.