WIDE researchers are partnering with practitioners at various museums and science centers to study the ways in which learning takes place in digital, informal learning spaces (i.e., museum discussion forums and social media sites). WIDE researchers break down the text from these learning spaces into roughly the phrase level and seek to identify what type of rhetorical moves (i.e. making an argument, citing an authority, demonstrating sympathy, etc.) are happening at each phase of the discussion. In particular, they are looking for moments of change as one of the expressions of participant learning.
Once these change moments have been identified, WIDE looks at what caused those change moments. In particular, they look at the facilitation strategies used by various museum employees to see what moves were effective in causing change. In this way, WIDE seeks to help give museum practitioners a series of best practices for creating learning experiences in digital spaces. This research helps give both a qualitative and quantitative description of how learning happens in these environments and data-backed strategies for fostering this type of behavior in future experiences.