Outline of appropriation depths.

Draft Model: Depths of Appropriation

Been working on a model of appropriation for a while. It’s pretty clear in my head and it’s proven very useful in interactions with diverse people, including learners and teachers. Much of it comes from work on digital inclusion. As such, “technological appropriation” is a factor of empowerment, in this model. But cultural reappropriation decreases agency, which is also part of the broad pattern.

Though some may dislike the term, it sounds quite fitting, to me. It’s almost a pun about “something you own” and “making something your own”.

There are depths of appropriation. Not like strict stratification or a linear pattern. But there are forms of appropriation which are deeper than others, insofar as they have deeper impacts. It’s a bit like Le Cornu & White’s “Visitors and Residents” continuum, in this sense. And it benefits from Doug Belshaw’s seminal work on multiple literacies.

For each depth in the model, a pithy description is followed by hypothetical examples from both concepts and tools which people can appropriate.

It’s really just a rough draft. Circulated it a bit, got limited feedback. Maybe others will appropriate it?

Awareness

Know it exists.

“Heard this SAT word…”

“You can print a prosthetic ear?”

Access

Possibility to play with it.

“Was able to plug this word in conversation”

“Got to print a figurine.”

Consumption

Passive usage.

“That concept is now part of my vocabulary.”

“Been using the computer on my desk every day for the past five years.”

Exploration

Open-ended usage.

“Tried this word in a joke. It flopped.”

“Just noticed a strange port on this device.”

Scope

Grasp of how far it extends.

“Can now ask interesting questions about this concept.”

“Got enough vocabulary to do Web searches to solve my Python problem.”

Affordance

Realisation of what it can potentially do.

“This concept from geography could help engineers understand something deep.”

“Did you know you could use a payphone to check the time?”

Artifice

Simulations of expertise.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Fake it until you make it”

Expertise

Covering most of the scope.

“Got to the limits of this idea.”

“Don’t think there’s much more to learn about tying my shoelaces.”

Recognition

Social interactions value the process.

“She’s so eloquent!”

“She’s so computer-savvy!”

Instruction

Ability to support others’ appropriation.

“She got me to understand this term.”

“Thanks to her, we’re now able to use our machines in productive ways.”

Mastery

Depth of usage.

“She connects those thoughts in such a seamless way!”

“Not even breaking a sweat.”

Innovation

New tools for the same usage.

“She builds her own lexicon to explain complex things.”

“She’s Macgyvered it.”

Reappropriation

New usage patterns.

“Whoa! Never thought of it this way!”

“In her hands, a saxophone sounds like a whole orchestra!”

Full Appropriation

Full agency.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“Pff! Who needs computers anyway?”

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