Once upon a time, reading was as simple and straightforward as decoding words on a page. No more. Digital age technologies have made such an impact on the way we interact with content that the old definitions of reading and books no longer apply. (Lamb, 2011).
Digital literature encompasses a myriad of mediums that go far beyond what we know as an electronic book. Since studying INF533 my mind has been broadened to such mediums that previously I would not have considered a ‘digital story’. Websites, simulations, games and virtual worlds are such mediums, which I once would not have considered to be digital literature in the traditional sense. This tells me that as the digital world is rapidly growing and changing, perhaps there are not clean cut rules for what makes something a form of digital literature.
In my initial thoughts about digital literature, I pointed out that, like with any technology I think it is incredibly important that we think critically about how and why we use digital literature in the classroom. We need to ensure that the use of the text is having a positive impact on the learning process and is adding value to the lesson and the learner. Further to this I think it is important to consider that directly substituting offline or print texts with digital tools is not the best way of integrating digital literature through teaching and learning experiences.
Reading digital literature is different to reading print texts, as it is reading online and offline (Weigel, 2009). When considering the use of digital literature throughout educational experiences it is incredibly important that educators know about digital literacy, an important element, being able to read and understand non-sequential and dynamic texts (Bawden, 2008). Not only do they need to know about it but be confident in teaching students what it means to be digitally literate, authentically. Similarly, when I discussed digital literacy last semester I focussed on it 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.
One of my favourite parts of INF533 this semester was being able to merge my love of social media with digital literature. Writing about reader’s being social and vocal opened up a whole new area for me as I explored Goodreads and Fan Fiction, exploring the idea that reading is no longer a solitary activity, but what you are reading, your thoughts and opinions are ideas that are often shared (Juergen, 2011), these days, often in an online environment. The idea of social reading is not really new but the affordances of digital mediums on those experiences do have the powerful ability to link students across time and space, learning and socialising with peers throughout reading (Weigel, 2009).
In my initial post I discussed my thoughts on digital literature, importantly, the possibilities to create, not only for teachers, but for students, authors and publishers. Importantly, we need to think more about engaging a wider variety of people in texts and creating texts in a digital format could very well be the answer. Recently I listened to a keynote at a conference about digital storytelling and whilst informative I craved to hear more about how our students are creating in the digital form, not just teachers. Though it has been widely documented that teachers are engaging students with digital storytelling for instruction (University of Houston, 2013b), I think it is important that we do not underestimate the skills and abilities of our students to create digital literature to a high standard.