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This quotation from Jenkins, Puroshotma, Clinton, Weigel, and Robinson (2006) perhaps sums up participatory culture best:


"A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one's creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another" (p. 3).

Coatney (2013) adds that "in participatory cultures, all learners learn and all learners teach and everyone's input is important to the conversation" (p.33). Many students are already involved in participatory cultures on their own, with online gaming and game forums, fandom including fan fiction, etc. This is an excellent potential teaching tool, particularly when done in authentic ways with "experts" from within that culture, both within or ideally beyond the classroom.

Participatory Culture

What is a participatory culture?

And how can I foster one in my classroom, library and school?

This page explains what participatory culture is in the school context, and provides further references and readings. For an explanation of what Web 2.0 tools are and why they are beneficial for classroom learning, see the Web 2.0 Tools page. For Web 2.0 tool suggestions, see the Ed Tech Resources page.

What does a participatory culture look like? 

The Drama of Web 2.0 Girl and Participatory Culture Ogre

Shannon Thiessen Burton, 2019, made using 

Connected Student.png

Participatory culture is connected culture. 

This infographic is made by Sylvia Duckworth and Jennifer Casa-Todd, and is from Jennifer Casa-Todd's website which accompanies her excellent book, Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership (see the Multiple Literacies page for more about Social LEADia).

Retrieved from

Where does this come from? References and Resources:

Coatney, S. (2013). Leadership, school libraries, and participatory culture. School Library Monthly,29(7), 33-35. Retrived from 

Hamilton, B. J. (2011). Creating conversations for learning: School libraries as sites of participatory culture. School Library Monthly, 27(8), 41-43.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [ebook]. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Retrieved from 

Jenkins, H., Puroshotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., and Robison, A.J. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago, IL: The MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from 

Losh, E., & Jenkins, H. (2012). Can public education coexist with participatory culture? Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 16-21. Retrieved from ProQuest Database.

Also check out:

Grinnell College students in Dr. Ross Haenfler‘s Deviance and Youth Subcultures course. (n.d.). Fandom and participatory culture. Retrieved from

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