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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Fan Fiction

I had never heard of fan fiction until this week. What an amazing phenomenon. I enjoyed reading the following authors mostly because they wrote about TV shows that I enjoyed as a teenager. I posted reviews on three of their stories.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2106027/1/ da90schic Saved By the Bell
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1931444/1/ sammac MacGyver
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2104404/1/ nitscali1 Star Trek: The Next Generation

I then wrote a piece in the Star Trek category:

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2111630/1/

If only I had more time, I could really get into this type of writing. It makes me wonder what type of people write fan fictions. Is it children, is it college undergrads without enough to do, or is it adults who have plenty to do but find a reason to write these stories. I don’t know.

So why do people write fan fictions? I believe it is because there is a certain amount of anonymity involved. People can write without having to worry about being critiqued personally. They also can count on getting anonymous feedback from others who have no other reason to give feedback except to genuinely improve the writing. It seems a lot of people wish to write but feel they haven’t got an avenue to do so….or at least one they are comfortable with. There is something intrinsically motivating about taking a creation (in this case a piece of writing) and showing it to the world. One can expect praise and adulations and one can expect critique and arguments. Both serve to improve the quality of the creation. Yet, by doing so anonymously, there is a risk factor that is removed. One is not putting their reputation out in public to be scorned.

So how would this affect learning? Well, I find it fascinating that there is data supporting the claim that many who contribute most productively on fan fictions are not that productive in the classroom. I believe it is because for the reasons listed in the previous paragraph: anonymity, opportunity to demonstrate work, low risk, and desire for feedback. So, how would we harness these attributes in the classroom? Perhaps activities should be incorporated that offer these aspects. In a larger classroom, say of thirty or more students, this would be possible. Anonymity could be reasonably achieved (lots of students) as well as quality feedback (enough students to offer varying opinions).

This almost seems strange, though, as I think back to grade school days. How would I have felt having my creations open for praise and critique. I guess in a way, we did that. I remember doing work that we then stamped our name on and posted in the hallways for the school to see. The only way, really, to get feedback was to overhear what people said as they looked over the creations. It would have been a much better learning experience to have these works left anonymous and formally provided for a means of feedback. It would have been the best of both worlds…learning by doing and improving learning through feedback.

1 comment:

David said...

You totally left me hanging on your fan fic! That's rude! It's hard to believe... Within a few paragraphs you had me going....

"In a larger classroom, say of thirty or more students, this would be possible. Anonymity could be reasonably achieved (lots of students) as well as quality feedback (enough students to offer varying opinions)."

So is this another instance, like OSOSSs, where more students are not only better for the instructional approach, but necessary?