Wayfinding as a critical literacy

Heli’s first week reflections and Mike’s response to these have reminded me of the work of Darken & Sibert on wayfinding in virtual worlds, which I came across a few years ago when I was trying to learn more about why people might drop out of an online course.

This article is about what we might need to consider when designing large virtual environments in order to prevent people becoming disoriented and lost and suggests that navigation tools such as maps, landmarks and trails are needed. It has occurred to me that wayfinding must also be a critical literacy. In addition to being able to select and use technology, we need to be able to navigate virtual environments.

In another article by Darken and Peterson that I have found today – is this model of navigation

Darken, R. P., & Peterson, B. (2001). Spatial Orientation, Wayfinding and Representation. p. 6, Training, 4083.

This seems to me to be very relevant to discussions about critical literacies for networked learning and I’m wondering whether those with well-developed spacial awareness are in a better position to critically navigate virtual environments.

7 thoughts on “Wayfinding as a critical literacy

  1. Mike Bogle June 6, 2010 / 7:46 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    Nice to see a little network already developing in the course 🙂 Darken and Peterson’s paper sounds very interesting – thanks for pointing it out.

    Though by the way, the URL currently includes a period after “HTM” when you try to load it – which causes it to break.

    e.g. when you click on the link it points to “…Rpd_txt.htm.”) When you remove the dot from the end it loads the page properly.

    Hope all is well.

  2. jennymackness June 6, 2010 / 7:59 pm

    Hi Mike – many thanks for pointing this out. I have corrected it. It’s down to years of English literacy training, i.e. put a full stop at the end of a sentence 🙂


  3. Mike Bogle June 7, 2010 / 3:49 am

    Hi Jenny,

    I totally understand. Though in this case the period is in the link rather than the text that you click on (so it’s still breaking).

    If you go into edit mode for the post and put the cursor on the section of text that contains the link you should see the link button highlighted in the text editor. If you click on this it will bring up the edit option, where you should see the period still included.

    When you update it here and then click Update it will fix the URL.

    You probably know all this already – I’m just at work with my tech support hat on, which gives me the impulse to describe everything in dot points :S

    Thanks again for pointing out the paper!

  4. jennymackness June 7, 2010 / 7:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your tech hat with me – and no – I didn’t know this – or at least simply didn’t think that just editing it on the page wouldn’t automatically edit it in the link box.

    Many thanks for taking the time to help me out.


  5. Heli Nurmi June 7, 2010 / 9:42 am

    Hi Jenny

    Do you know our Diigo group CritLit2010 – Mike founded it and put this blog post there. We could discuss there with sticky notes to to accurate points/ places. I did it just for first time in my life and feel enthusiasm.

    Of course we can discuss here, too.
    I just looked all those patterns Stephen gave today, it is a perfect list. How about this yours (don’t remember other names) – which model is this?
    I love this change theme we have seconf week!

  6. jennymackness June 7, 2010 / 2:44 pm

    Hi Heli – many thanks for this. I have joined the group.


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