iRemix Profiles: Part 2


In the previous post I explored how students can creatively engage in the construction of iRemix profiles, while also learning to responsibly represent themselves as part of an online community. On the one hand, the affordance of iRemix as a social learning network is that it turns everyday online scenarios into teachable moments. On the other hand, educators can use iRemix’s new media features to deepen students’ understandings of course material. Profiles embody both of these potentials. In this post I show how teachers can use fictional iRemix profiles as part of larger assignments and projects.

The idea to create fictional profiles on iRemix came out of my fan fiction class. Over the course of ten to twelve weeks students learn to imitate popular fan practices. These practices include writing fan fiction, editing fanvids, designing fan art, and creating fictional profiles for their favorite characters.

Zelda Fanvid – DYN from Micahel Lachney on Vimeo.

While some of these fan practices have been around for over forty years, digital and new media allow increasing numbers of fans to connect with their favorite media in new and creative ways. The creation of fictional profiles is one of the popular avenues for fans to express their attitudes towards specific characters. A Facebook search for anyone from Katniss Everdeen to Darth Vader will yield  dozens of pages and profiles dedicated to their fictional online personas.

DYN Students Perform as Fictional Characters on iRemix

I work to integrate this practice into my fan fiction courses, as I have students choose a character from popular media that they want to create and act as within the iRemix network. This teaches students to create fan fiction through concepts of performance. As their characters, students navigate iRemix to comment on fan fiction, fanvids, and fan art that also feature that character. The result is a character commenting on themselves. While this may seem like some strange meta-activity, the act of commenting on media that features oneself is a popular activity across social networks and media hosting sites.

Hinata Comments on Herself in a Piece of Fan Art

My hope is that this activity will help students reflect on and critique their previous work from new perspectives and understand the multiple identities that they have access to when working in online spaces. Messing around with fictional iRemix profiles encourages students to perform fan fiction, which can be fun in itself. But it also encourages them to negotiate the layers of identity that they create. To this point, the class will discuss how fans mix and match identities and project themselves upon characters when, for instance, a user “Likes” Taylor Swift through the Katniss profile he has created. This helps students make sense of what it means to be a fan in the 21st century, which contributes to the ultimate goal of the course.

Creating fictional iRemix profiles may be a way for educators to deepen students’ engagement and, therefore, understanding of traditional school subjects. For example, students can recreate the dialogue between President Truman and his cabinet that lead up to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for a history project. Or, perhaps english students may use fictional iRemix profiles to reflect on the events of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings from the perspective of characters in the book. For whatever the content, iRemix profiles and other design features can be stretched in creative ways to make 21st century learning fun and relevant  for our students lives in and out of school.

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