Tagging and the iRemix Community


On any given day during a school week, we can have over a hundred active users on any one of the Digital Youth Network’s iRemix powered networks. With this many students building their personal portfolios, critiquing others’ work-in-progress , and connecting with media producers it is easy for weekly assignments to get lost in the network. During an in-school media arts class at Chicago Quest, for example, I have twenty-plus students all posting individual assignments, not to mention the other nine classes of students also using the network at the same time within the building. With so much activity it becomes important to be able to find each students media at the end of the day. This is when “media tags” come in handy for both establishing an iRemix community and monitoring students’ activities. However, tagging as a standard classroom  practice does not always come about through simple reminders. To make media tagging part of my students’ routine, I have to make sure they also find them useful during my media arts classes.

On iRemix, the tagging option appears before uploading a blog or piece of media. Tagging is a standard feature for most, if not all, social networks and media hosting websites. Tagging a piece of media or work with specific keywords or names in iRemix has two significant pedagogical functions.

iRemix Media Tag

First, tagging is essentially a way of labeling work and placing it within a specific category. When posting finished movie projects I often have my students include the name of the class and the genre of movie they have produced. This helps me find all my students’ projects under one search and helps others hold me accountable for my students’ deliverables. In addition, tagging the genre reinforces what my students learn about genres as cultural categories, which are determined by movie producers (them) and audiences (other iRemix users).

Second, as students label media they form connections to other iRemix users in the network, who have tagged the same keywords. I have seen these connections occur across school-sites, within the same class but during different semesters, and between different mediums (podcasting and video, for example). This function helps form the iRemix community as a whole, which from a teacher’s or mentor’s perspective is key.

To make media tags appear useful to my students, I have them search for parts of assignments based on tags that I create. This requires that I incorporate the language of media tags into my classroom discussions. This can be as simple as starting off a class by saying something like, “Search for the blog I have tagged as, ‘video 1′ and ‘comedy’ to find today’s assignment.” Students will search the keywords, which they conceptually know I have tagged for that specific blog.

Searching for Tags

I also encourage students to personalize their iRemix posts through media tags. This allows them to be in control of the vocabulary and even slang that is associated with their work. Drawing on my students’ own popular culture, I explain that like “tags” used by graffiti artists, media tags in iRemix allow users to add their own signatures to their creative works. This helps students conceptualize tagging as something they not only do to fulfill the assignment requirements, but something they can use to build their own online identities in the process.

DYN Design/Graffiti Tag

Media tags are important for both the iRemix community and individual users. How I frame tags when using iRemix in my media arts classes will determine students’ attitudes towards the tagging practice. It is, therefore, important that I incorporate the language of media tags into our everyday teaching, while also encouraging students to use them as avenues for personalization and online identity creation. Media tags help my DYN students both interact with other peers on iRemix and shape themselves as part of the larger online learning community.

Screenshots Credit: http://rw.iremix.me

DYN Design: http://rw.iremix.me/media/photos/156

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