Online Fan Fiction Spaces as Literacy Tools | diseño |

Much has been written about the youth experience of literacy learning when they create and share fanfiction online.


Previous features on Reading Today Online have outlined what learning looks like for adolescent participants in Hunger Games fan spaces and have shed light on the particular writing practices recruited by sites like


However, less is known about the nature of teaching in these online, fan-based, informal learning environments. How do online spaces teach fans the expectations of digital literacy practices such as writing fanfiction? What pedagogical tools establish the curriculum, teaching, evaluation, and social norms of an online fanfiction space?

I explored similar questions in a study published in Learning, Media and Technology about the nature of pedagogy in an online fanfiction space. In particular, I studied adolescent literacy in an online forum called The Sims Writers’ Hangout (The Hangout has since disappeared, but evidence of the group’s creative work still appears on Flickr and elsewhere online).


The Hangout was an online space for fans of the videogame The Sims to gather and support each other’s writing of Sims fanfiction—multimodal, digital texts that pair images taken in the video game with narratives authors write (see examples of Sims fanfiction created with The Sims 3).


Over its five-year existence, The Hangout had more than 12,000 members, mostly adolescent females, from all over the world who posted over 660,000 messages on a variety of Sims-related and community-building topics to establish an online network of readers and writers.

To better understand the pedagogy of The Hangout, I drew from data collected over two years spent documenting the space through the participation of eight young women (ages 15 - 23) from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.


Through analysis of virtual interviews, Hangout posts, and the Sims fanfiction my informants shared and the readers’ responses they received, I came to the following understandings about the nature of literacy pedagogy in this online fanfiction space:


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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc