In ‘The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains‘, Nicholas Carr writes “For some people, the very idea of reading a book has come to seem old-fashioned”. Digital literature is amongst us, everyday. The Internet is a ‘text-saturated world’ where reading on screens is fundamentally different from reading traditional, printed text (Cull, 2011). The what, when and how reading occurs has significantly changed and perceptions of what exactly a ‘book’ is, is beginning to adjust as well. A book being a tangible object with physical pages to turn is really only one of many options that we can consider to be a book (Hancox, 2013).
Reviewing three fundamentally different forms of digital literature for this assignment has significantly evidenced the fact that simply ‘avoiding’ digital literature isn’t possible. As educators it is imperative that we not only acknowledge this but develop, and in some cases transform our practice. This will ensure our students are provided with the best literature experiences, both print and digital, to enable them to achieve success as readers and writers in the digital age. Last semester I wrote about the importance of digital literacy not being viewed as an ‘add on’ by educators (Chase & Laufenberg, 2011), similarly it is my perception that the use of digital literature in the classroom should be seamlessly implemented. This means going beyond showing electronically augmented, linear narrative texts or ‘linear e-narratives’ (Unsworth, 2006) on Interactive Whiteboards and screens. This means providing students with a variety of good quality digital literature in multiple forms- digital literature that is described as enhanced and interactive eBooks (Itzkovitch, 2012) and hypertext and hypermedia narratives (Unsworth, 2006). If implemented effectively students will develop the skills of reading ‘digitally’ where reading goes beyond a static page (Hague & Payton, 2010) and understand both linear and non-sequential, dynamic texts (Bawden, 2008).
Digital literature most certainly has its place in modern educational environments. Today electronic books can do many things a print book cannot (Sadokierski, 2013), digital literature is able to provide both students and teachers with a variety of learning opportunities, creation formats and spaces for expression that were not previously available (Chase & Laufenberg, 2011). Being able to read a text together despite geographical bounds is one such opportunity evident in the ‘A Story Before Bed’ Google+ Hangout app, the swinging, panoramic-like camera in Sherlock- Interactive Adventure allows the reader to view the moving 3D images from different perspectives, adding context to the written word, is another. These features transcend the written word, offering versatility and accessibility that is impossible to print books (Sadokierski, 2013).
I am a digital reader. I love the convenience and digital affordances; clipping text, highlighting, in-built dictionaries, interactivity, portability, innate bookmarking. I personally am much more inclined to read something on a mobile device than I am a printed text. My love of social media and all things Twitter is what drew me to reviewing @TitanicRealTime, by far my most favourite piece of digital literature yet. I was mesmerised watching this Twitter stream live earlier this year and constantly found myself anticipating the next Tweets- or lines of the text. Listening to Andrew Fitzgerald in ‘Adventures in Twitter Fiction’ further sparked my interest in exploring what has come to be described as ‘Twitterature’.
Using @TitanicRealTime in the classroom would be easy- especially for teachers who already incorporate Twitter in their classroom as normal practice. Following the historical retelling on a daily basis would springboard a natural inquiry into all things ‘Titanic’. Students and teachers can explore and compare Tweets from different class systems and the idea of social equality, delve into the history of early 20th century, develop an understanding of character and different language features. Museum Victoria has a comprehensive guide to lesson ideas for students in years 3 and 4 which was put together to support the former Titanic Artifact exhibition, though specifically designed for those year levels, @TitanicRealTime can be used an enjoyed by older students and adults alike.
In the digital age we find ourselves in, it is essential that we take advice from Cull (2011) and “remind ourselves of the importance of teaching transferable critical reading skills, and the value of motivating our students to remain lifelong learners”. Critically reviewing digital literature is paramount before incorporating it into any teaching program. Digital elements and interactivity should not be included in a text without the view of enhancing the reading experience (Itzkovitch, 2012). Digital literature should be embraced in the classroom- go beyond linear texts on a screen and embrace a world of magical enhanced and interactive eBooks, book apps and the world of ‘Twitterature’.
Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live
Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: Norton.
Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital Literacies: Embracing the Squishiness of Digital Literacy.Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535–537. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1598/JAAL.54.7.7/pdf
Cull, B. (2011). Reading revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in academe. First Monday, 16(6). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3340/2985
Hancox, D. (2013). When Books Go Digital: The Kills and the Future of the Novel. Retrieved http://theconversation.com/when-books-go-digital-the-kills-and-the-future-of-the-novel-20098
Hague, C., & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum. Futurelab. Retrieved http://www.futurelab.org.uk/sites/default/files/Digital_Literacy_handbook_0.pdf
Itzkovitch, A. (2012). Interactive eBook Apps: The Reinvention of Reading and Interactivity. Retrieved http://uxmag.com/articles/interactive-ebook-apps-the-reinvention-of-reading-and-interactivity
Sadokierski, Z. (2013). What is a book in the digital age? Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071