I am still seeking to grapple with the challenges presented by the experience of a 13 month informal education project set in a virtual world, Schome Park, based at the Open University in 2007-8. This was a very innovative project (in the Teen Second Life environment) where everyone, students and staff, experienced the project as new in many respects. I wanted to examine the connections made by participants in the Schome Park programme and their experiences of schooling. The enormous datasets generated in some projects involving digital technologies require the evolution of new techniques. Corpus linguistics is one of the tools I use in a multi-method approach I term a virtual literacy ethnography In this presentation I introduce my use of corpus linguistics with a step by step demonstration.
Here I begin to uncover a number of ways in which participants made links with their school-based identities, contrasted or compared their experiences across domains and demonstrated through their interactive written communications their 'learning as you go' participatory online culture. Overall, I aim to suggest some ways in which we might approach research into virtual, or digital, literacies, while seeking to equip ourselves with new expertise in this regard, whatever place we are starting from.