Is Digital Scholarship limited by cultural myopia?



The parameters of scholarship in education are often based on Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of discovery, integration, application and teaching. Healey further expands on the scholarship of teaching to include “research into teaching and learning, critical reflection of practice and communication and dissemination about the practice of one’s subject” (2000, p. 169).


Broadening the discussion to include the transformational aspects of “digital” technology, educational scholarship has been enriched through open data, open publishing, a blurring of the academic and ‘real’ world, open teaching and learning and a movement from the individual to the distributed scholar and global access (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kinsley, 2012). However, Pearce etal. (2012, p. 169) cautioned that technology is “a necessary but not sufficient condition” for true scholarship. The question is, given the potential and reality of technology, what else is needed to fulfil the obligations of a modern ‘digital’ scholar?

Argument statement

This essay will argue that the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in online and offline education, led by British, Australasian and North American (BANA) institutions limits knowledge, understanding and progress not only of its students, but of its scholars as well in exploiting the true potential of open educational tools and resources.


There are four main reasons for situating this essay in the context of teaching and learning, in particular, a critical reflection of digital scholarship practice in relation to multi-cultural multi-lingual (MCML) learning environments. Firstly, demographic shifts in education are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a result of globalisation, immigration, migration, and war (Boelens, 2010; Boelens, Cherek, Tilke, & Bailey, 2015). Secondly a significant shift to online education where the global market is showing a 9.2% five year annual compound growth rate and is now worth $107 billion led by India and China (Pappas, 2015). Thirdly, work and employment increasingly is global, remote and disaggregated with globally mobile and fluid workforce and both employers and employees requiring “just in time” rather than “just in case” skills and knowledge. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a moral, ethical and value-based argument. On the one hand, MCML students are prejudiced by the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in education (Catterick, 2007; Sadykova, 2014; Zhang & Kenny, 2010) and on the other, ignoring the MCML dimension limits critical reflective practice, the potential of international digital scholarship and knowledge and understanding of a large part of the educational scholars’ field.

Interpretive Discussion


Traditionally, creating culturally-responsive accommodations for MLMC students has faced considerable institutional opposition. The response of educational institutions, comprised a narrow range between non-accommodation and intervention in the form of student induction into ‘the system’ i.e. modify the student not the program (Catterick, 2007; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). Arguments against interventions cite costs, quality control, and expectations of the students themselves and their future employers that they are “Westernised” as a by-product of their education (Catterick, 2007).


Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) acknowledge these issues and suggest that institutions distinguish between entrenched cultural values and superficial practices, and create interventions with constructivist and instructivist alternatives or choices in learning activities and instructional format only where these are critical to learning success. Researchers sound a word of caution against cultural generalizations that lead to stereotyping and discrimination (Gazi, 2014; Hardy & Tolhurst, 2014; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). This can be ameliorated through a combination of embedding cultural considerations in each stage of the instructional design process, ensuring an iterative practice of reflection and modification and encouraging student interaction and feedback (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010; Young, 2009).


Models designed to foster awareness of cultural implications in education vary in their orientation. Initially research done in corporations (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and physical classrooms led to classroom or systems originated and oriented models such as the Inclusion, Attitude, Meaning, Competence (IAMC) model of Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2009, cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012) and the Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (CDLF) (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010) which were adapted for online learning.


In contrast, the Culture Based Model (CBM) framework of Young (2009) and the Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) model (Edmundson, 2007b) are product oriented with the aim of guiding designers to incorporate culture in the design of digital and online educational products. (See Appendix 1 for illustrations of these models).

Reflection on teaching and learning in a multi-cultural environment

Educational institutions are not the only suppliers of teaching and learning. Commercial entities, particularly multinational companies, go to an enormous amount of effort in creating culturally compatible user interfaces – see Edmundson’s (2007a) book “Globalized e-learning cultural challenges”. One could argue that this effort directly benefits their bottom line, however all institutions would benefit from this approach.


Fortunately there are some researchers open-minded enough to examine the assumptions of their own culture, reflect on the embedded cultural practices of teaching and learning and those of the digital platforms and applications and thoughtfully researching ways to reconcile the two so as to optimise the learning of their students (Chan & Rao, 2010; Looker, 2011; Ren & Montgomery, 2015; Sadykova, 2014). Critical examination of one’s own culture and introducing new technologies in a more considered and less forceful way, appears to result in more success and acceptance. Pedagogy aligned with sociocultural context allows scaffolding of current to new practice and understanding (Chan, 2010; Chan & Rao, 2010; Law et al., 2010; Rao & Chan, 2010).


Chan (2010) demonstrated aspects of the Confucian approach to teaching and learning were highly compatible with the values of digital scholarship, and showed how modifications in the way technological tools for collaborative learning were introduced positively impacted their acceptance by teachers and students in a high school setting.


More recently, in examining Korean students’ experiences of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Ahn, Yyon and Cha (2015) built on the CDLF of Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot (2010) showing how awareness, cultural sensitivity and relatively minor adjustments could enhance the online learning experience of such students without detracting from the quality and substance of the courses.


The introduction of digital innovation in the learning environment does not automatically lead to universal acceptance, but can resoundingly be rejected in any culture when it is felt basic assumptions and expectations are being violated – as the study of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool revealed (Wilson, Diao, & Huang, 2015). Even if peer-to-peer review and data analytics have meta-cognitive benefits, their implementation is often poor and occurs within a context where cooperation and collaboration is espoused but underlying assumptions and pressures of competition and the importance of good grades prevail (Durall & Gros, 2014; Wilson et al., 2015). Similarly, suboptimal outcomes are seen if the social-emotional needs and group formation process is neglected in online scholarship or learning and made subservient to certification and task performance (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003).


Current trends, futurist predictions, theoretical perspectives

Disaggregation and re-aggregation appears to be a theme in many of the discussions on trends and the future of education – something technology allows in ways previously not possible.


Ware, writing in 2011, predicted that the publication of academic research would be disaggregated between the repository process of registration and dissemination of work and the certification process which includes peer review and branding – an idea that harks back to the learned societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Ware, 2011). Four years later this is the reality in open access repositories in China (Ren & Montgomery, 2015). Retractions of research papers have also resulted in the calls for the publication of the complete research work flow including raw data – something that is now technologically possible and feasible as interrogation and data analytic tools develop (Larsen, 2008; Oransky & Marcus, 2010; Ware, 2011).


Technology enhances the agency of the self-directed learner (SDL) to re-aggregate OER to suit their learning needs. Mike Caulfield’s idea of choral explanations in OER textbooks:

“the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense, or you can start with simpler explanations and work your way to nuance.” (Caulfield, 2016, para. 63)

opens many possibilities for expanding textbooks to accommodate linguistic and cultural diversity – something international students already do when they purchase two (physical) textbooks, one that is not only in their home language but also in their home pedagogical culture (Bailey, 2016; Kim & Mizuishi, 2014)


Bates cautions that there is still an agency role to structure and accredit that knowledge acquisition (Bates, 2011), but in a globally mobile and fluid workforce, those aggregators will need to accommodate different cultures of learning. Public/private educational entities such as Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education are taking a regional lead in exporting their vocational training through their educational services division (Chong, 2014; ITEES, 2015; Li, Yao, & Chen, 2014).


Similarly consideration could be given to using the models and algorithms in the field of adaptive learning (Charles Sturt University, n.d.) and personalisation in order to create cultural adaptations based on parameters set by students.


Two universities, although very different in design are using innovative online technology, Kiron University to give refugees the opportunity to further their education (Bates, 2015) and Minerva University to give fee paying students a global education that is location independent for both students and professors (Wood, 2014). Such disruptive models of higher education raise all kinds of questions on the implications of digital learning including whether scholarship and research will continue if scholarship is not directly visible or rewarded (Harry Lewis, cited by Wood, 2014).

Implications for scholarly practice

In order to understand the role of technology, Kalantzis and Cope (2015) go back to the etymology of ‘media’ as agents bridging meaning across space and time to facilitate communication, understanding and learning. This has huge implications for scholarly practice.


Literature on global collaboration in the classroom (Higgitt et al., 2008; Thombs, Ivarsson, & Gillis, 2011), the research process (Siemens & Burr, 2013; Siemens, Cunningham, Duff, & Warwick, 2011) and online conferencing (LaPointe & Gunawardena, 2004) enumerates many benefits of such collaboration. These include but are not limited to the opening of and access to new knowledge; flattening of hierarchies, easier discovery and connection mechanisms; extending the reach and equity of scholars and reducing costs. Some of the problems however, include issues with technological difficulties and failure, differences in equipment standards and capabilities, scheduling issues due to time differences, misunderstandings due to language, the nature of computer-mediated communication including its text-basis, time-independence, asynchronous nature and inability to interpret culturally based non-verbal cues (Pearce et al., 2012; Selwyn, 2010; Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, 2012b; Weller, 2011).


Of these, language remains a significant barrier to open access international research and learning. Even where all members of a research team are proficient in a language (usually English), research in other languages may not be accessible to non-speakers (Loan & Sheikh, 2016; Ren & Montgomery, 2015), and language and cultural norms may be intertwined where nuance can result in misunderstanding (Siemens & Burr, 2013). As translation software continue to evolve will more students be able to study and do internationally recognised and disseminated research in their home language, (Cheesman et al., 2016; Palaiologou, 2007; Sadykova, 2014)? Or will the dominance of English prevail – albeit with a move to “global English” as envisioned by Schell (2007) and what will be lost as a result?


Digital scholarship within the context of international and globalised education could benefit from additional critical reflection into the assumptions concerning and attitudes towards multi-cultural and multi-lingual students and fellow researchers. Given the plethora of technological tools, research, knowledge and practice in non-BANA educational institutions, of intrepid researchers in BANA institutions and of multi-national corporations there are ample examples of best practice and the potential to positively impact student learning and educational scholarship in the digital realm.



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Appendix 1: Illustrations of Models


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Figure 1: IAMC model Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009 (cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012 p. 25)


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Figure 2: Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010, summarized in Ahn, Yoon & Cha, 2015, p.207)


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Figure 3: Culture Based Model, Young, 2009, p. 38


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Figure 4: Cultural Adaptation Process (Edmundson, 2007b, p. 269)


ETL402 Critical Reflection

Reading Haven (2007) was a great way to set the scene for this course. Even if we were not all literature “converts” before starting the course, understanding the research behind the power of stories would make us so. Of all the themes I think the second module – concerning diversity – was the one that engaged me most passionately and emotionally. Smolen and Oswalds’ (2011) book was instrumental in expanding my knowledge on this topic.


Reviewing my blog posts The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; if you name it will it come; Conversations and thoughts about diversity in literature; It can’t get any worse … can it? and The right to write as well as my first assessment The Power and Potential of Multicultural Diverse Literature I realise they all concerned themselves with this topic. In practise, despite best intentions and efforts, large international communities of practise, the so called “global librarian networks” it is still difficult to source and purchase diverse literature of the quality and quantity necessary.


Looking at the collection, the teacher librarian (TL) walks several tightropes simultaneously – balancing curriculum needs with literacy needs with pleasure “fast food” reading needs as well as parental and societal expectations and biases makes for interesting tension. All while ensuring that literature can fulfil its destiny without losing a generation of potential readers. Personal observations reinforced the need for positive role models and personal – particularly peer –recommendations (Marcoux & Loertscher, 2009). Attempts to transform a physical library space were documented in a number of blog posts summarised here. Both Travers and Travers (2008) and Elizabeth and Selman (2012) cast an important biopsychosocial developmental lens on the subject of literature in schools.


With respect to the digital experience, as a colleague remarked to me “we are the first generation of teacher librarians and parents dealing with the internet, and we don’t know what we’re doing or what the long term effects will be”. Of course there are more than enough naysayers (Carr, 2013; Mangen, Walgermo, & Brønnick, 2013) and cheerleaders (Cornis-Pope & Woodlief, 2000) to balance each other out and the jury is out on the matter. At the end of the day it is important to meet the students where they are – whether that is in the land of text, live or digital and embrace the benefits of interaction, self-directed learning with creative opportunities (Anstey & Bull, 2006).


Finally, as they say – the proof of the pudding is in the eating – or in this instance, the proof of the learning is in how it can be applied in the teaching and promotion of literature in schools. Changing the culture in any learning environment is a slow process, where one has to learn to trust one’s instincts and trust the students, alternate between catching one’s breath in horror and outrage at the utterances of some teachers and parents while being in awe of the skill and depth of understanding and good practice of others, all moments from each other. It’s quite a ride.




Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Defining multiliteracies. In Teaching and learning multiliteracies : changing times, changing literacies (pp. 19–55). Newark, Del: International Reading Association.

Carr, N. (2013, January 5). Don’t burn your books—print Is here to stay [WSJ.com]. Retrieved 22 May 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002

Cornis-Pope, M., & Woodlief, A. (2000, Fall). The rereading/rewriting process: Theory and collaborative, on-line pedagogy. Retrieved 17 January 2016, from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/ReReadingTheorychapter.htm

Elizabeth, T., & Selman, R. L. (2012). The role of social development in elementary school curricula: Past, present, and future. Saperstein Associates. Retrieved from http://www.sapersteinassociates.com/downloads/2012_Elizabeth_and_Selman_SD_Whitepaper.pdf

Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library

Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002

Marcoux, E., & Loertscher, D. V. (2009). The role of a school library in a school’s reading program. Teacher Librarian, 37(1), 8–14,84.

Smolen, L. A., & Oswald, R. A. (Eds.). (2011). Multicultural literature and response: Affirming diverse voices. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library

Travers, B. E., & Travers, J. F. (2008). Children, literature and development: Interactions and insights. In Children’s literature: a developmental perspective (pp. 2–17). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


Assessment Item 4: Critical Reflection of Digital Literature Experiences

What makes a good digital text

Despite Goodreads’ narrow interpretation of a book as being something with an ISBN number, “the book as a physical object with paper pages is now only one version of what a book might be” (Hancox, 2013, para. 7). As many have discussed before, a digital text can take many formats and permutations (James & de Kock, 2013; Parker, 2013; Sadokierski, 2013b; Walsh, 2013).

Various criteria exist as to what constitutes a good digital text.  Its ability to engage, enhance, experience, elucidate, explain and entertain (James & de Kock, 2013; Miller, 2011); the use of multiple media and a single unified story without redundancy between media (Phillips, 2012; Walker et al., 2010); a linear yet enhanced reading experience, engaging multiple literacy and learning styles with intelligent, flexible and intuitive design with longevity (Parrott, 2011). To this can be added the potential to cater for different ability and facility with language and technology and preferred multi-sensory behaviour while bridging participatory skills and social needs with academic skills (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Roskos, Burstein, Shang, & Gray, 2014; Walker et al., 2010). Finally a good text, digital or otherwise will immerse and absorb the reader while allowing them to interact with the world and others, or an alternate reality, vicariously and integrate new knowledge and understanding into their existing schema or worldview (Fuhler, 2010; Ryan & Ryan, n.d.).

Compare experience digital versus print

In any comparison of the print / digital experience it should be emphasized that neither has moral nor educational superiority, but rather fulfil different functions and meet different literary, literacy and learning needs.

The most obvious difference is the format, though the non-linear nature of digital media is often commented on with its potential to disrupt the reading process and the need to have a strategy to stay on track and the necessity of learning and incorporating new conventions and practices in experiencing digital literature (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Chuk, Hoetzlein, Kim, & Panko, 2012; Francus, 2013; James & de Kock, 2013; Roskos et al., 2014; Skains, 2010). Digital features can create an enticement to buy, assist with the appreciation of literature, facilitate interpretation and understanding or motivate adjunct composition (Unsworth, 2006).

Experimentation with digital literature will, after a while, create a sense of discomfort in a self-aware educator as it becomes obvious that “their” pedagogical functions of elucidation and enhancing understanding of literature are usurped by the medium which can offer these benefits in a manner that fits with a learners’ preferred learning style and mode at a personalized pace. However, one’s role as a curator, guide and co-collaborator in all literary and literacy aspects of learning is enhanced (Lamb, 2011; Leu et al., 2011; Mills & Levido, 2011). Finally, the teacher can use the digital affordances to enhance student’s 21st century literacy skills as they come to grips with understanding the codes and conventions, functions and aspects of all semiotic systems (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Bowler, Morris, Cheng, Al-Issa, & Leiberling, 2012; Malita & Martin, 2010; Walker et al., 2010).

Incorporation of a text into a learning program

One of the digital texts I most enjoyed was First World War: the story of a global conflict‘ (Panetta, 2014a).

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The scope of this interactive documentary is such that it could be used in a variety of classroom settings, however the one I would choose would be the unit on “Memoir writing” in the Grade 7 English Unit where students are encouraged to explore a variety of compelling narratives and to create their own story (UWCSEA-East Campus, 2013). The students are from many different countries and cultures, including around one third from India, and the documentary, in particular the “Empire” chapter could form the basis for curating works of literature, poetry, music and art created in times of conflict and war. Students could bring examples of narratives and art forms from their own cultures that either relates to World War 1 or other conflicts to supplement material introduced by the teacher such as examples from the “The Disasters of War, 1800-2014,” show (Rubin, 2014). This would align with the concept of the teacher being a facilitator and curator who shares and highlights aspects of the curriculum in a multi-modal and social context allowing students to extrapolate to their own learning and literacy (Fuhler, 2010; Mitra, 2013; Serafini & Youngs, 2013) and ties in with the concepts of design thinking in education where “The focus is on processes – producing, assessing, developing, creating, revisiting,  revising. Learning content becomes secondary to developing the how-to skills for how to be a learner in the 21st century” (Gerstein, 2014).


Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2012). Using multimodal factual texts during the inquiry process. PETAA, 184, 1–12. Retrieved from http://chpsliteracy.wikispaces.com/file/view/PETAA+Paper+No.184.pdf

Bowler, L., Morris, R., Cheng, I.-L., Al-Issa, R., & Leiberling, L. (2012). Multimodal stories: LIS students explore reading, literacy, and library service through the lens of “The 39 Clues.” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 53(1), 32–48.

Chuk, E., Hoetzlein, R., Kim, D., & Panko, J. (2012). Creating socially networked knowledge through interdisciplinary collaboration. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(1-2), 93–108. doi:10.1177/1474022211426906

Francus, M. (2013, October 22). Pride and Prejudice Goes Interactive: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Video presented at the Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial, Paper 5. Retrieved from http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/celia_pride/conference/october11/5

Fuhler, C. J. (2010). Using primary-source documents and digital storytelling as a catalyst for writing historical fiction in the fourth grade. In B. Moss & D. Lapp (Eds.), Teaching new literacies in grades 4-6: Resources for 21st-century classrooms (pp. 136–150). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Gerstein, J. (2014, August 27). The Educator as a Design Thinker [Web log post]. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-educator-as-a-design-thinker/

Hancox, D. (2013, December 13). When books go digital: The Kills and the future of the novel. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://theconversation.com/when-books-go-digital-the-kills-and-the-future-of-the-novel-20098

James, R., & de Kock, L. (2013). The Digital David and the Gutenberg Goliath: The Rise of the “Enhanced” e-book. English Academy Review, 30(1), 107–123. doi:10.1080/10131752.2013.783394

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12–17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live

Leu, D. J., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., … Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5–14. doi:10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3060–3064. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.465

Miller, L. (2011, June 15). “The Waste Land”: T.S. Eliot takes the app store [Review]. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://www.salon.com/2011/06/15/the_waste_land/

Mills, K. A., & Levido, A. (2011). iPed: pedagogy for digital text production. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 80–91. doi:10.1598/RT.65.1.11

Mitra, S. (2013, February). Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud [Talk Video]. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud

Panetta, F. (2014). A global guide to the First World War [Interactive documentary]. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/jul/23/a-global-guide-to-the-first-world-war-interactive-documentary

Parker, J. (2013, December 18). When stories are more than paper: Transmedia trends in Young Adult Literature. Presentation presented at the YALSA 2012 YA Literature Symposium, St. Louis, MO. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/l0j03_mb1dma/when-stories-are-more-than-paper-transmedia-trends-in-young-adult- literature/

Parrott, K. (2011, July 18). 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Apps and Ebooks [Web log post]. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2011/07/5-questions-to-ask-when-evaluating-apps-and-ebooks/

Phillips, A. (2012). A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling: how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Shang, Y., & Gray, E. (2014). Young Children’s Engagement With E-Books at School: Does Device Matter? SAGE Open, 4(1). doi:10.1177/2158244013517244

Rubin, A. (2014, August 28). Horror Is a Constant, as Artists Depict War [Review]. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/arts/design/horror-is-a-constant-as-artists-depict-war.html?emc=edit_th_20140831&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=69344483

Ryan, S., & Ryan, D. (n.d.). What is literature? Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/siryan/academy/foundation/what_is_literature.htm

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071

Serafini, F., & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading Workshop 2.0. Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401–404. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=92711892&site=ehost-live

Skains, R. L. (2010). The Shifting Author–Reader Dynamic: Online Novel Communities as a Bridge from Print to Digital Literature. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 95–111. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2006). Learning through web contexts of book-based literary narratives. In E-literature for children enhancing digital literacy learning (pp. 29–43). London; New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=198496

UWCSEA-East Campus. (2013, August). Program Outline – Middle School English – Grade 7. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from https://sites.google.com/a/gapps.uwcsea.edu.sg/east-ms-english/header-3/unit-planners

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture (Ch. 15). In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp. 212–224). New York, NY: Routledge.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181–194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).



When is it digital literature?

I’ve been busying myself with looking through a number of different formats of digital texts in order to write some reviews for my next assessment item.  According to the (adapted) criteria of Nesbit, Belfer and Leacock (2004) one can look at (cited in Leacock and Nesbit, 2007):

Category of resource

  • Content quality
  • Alignment with curriculum or program purpose
  • Value of digital affordances for the literature Possibilities for feedback and/or adaptation
  • Intrinsic motivation of the digital environment for users
  • Presentation design
  • Interaction and usability
  • Accessibility and reusability

Today I was looking at a few audio-visual formatted items.  A Calendar of Tales, Beowulf in a Hundred Tweets,and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,  Each of these were in different resource categories, however they all overlapped in the fact that I could access and read them on my computer, and with the exception of the first two (Calendar of Tales and Beowulf) involved a greater percentage of looking and watching time than reading time.

I foundCalendar Tales a Calendar of Tales a wonderful selection of stories, and found the concept of basing writing on questions in tweets to be an interesting way of involving the audience.  Neil Gaiman writes very well, and the stories would stand up to literary scrutiny on their own without any digital bells and whistles. 

There was however a considerable amount of redundancy over formats – you could read the story online, you could read it as a pdf, or you could listen to it as an audio file.  So the various formats did not enhance the experience in a new or unexpected way.



Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 5.48.45 pmAs someone who did not have prior literary knowledge of Beowulf, nor any particular interest in the poem / ancient English language, (shock horror!) I found the Twitter Beowulf to be an interesting experiment, but not one which I wanted to spend any amount of time reading through in detail.  It also didn’t pique my interest in the original text.  Which one would hope would be one of the aims of such an endeavour.  I can imagine this had a following and would be a useful addition to a curriculum, and apparently had a very avid following as it unfolded – I think also due to the (academic) authority of the author.



Lizzie Bennett Diaries The Lizzie Bennet diaries have had extraordinary success and won an Emmy Award in 2013– which recognises excellence excellence in the television industry. And that’s the point where I start to wonder where the line can be drawn between what is digital literature and what is an audio/visual/digital adaptation of literature.

Prima facie it is a Vlog (video blog) based adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  The question is what makes it different from say the BBC series Pride and Prejudice, besides being updated to fit current times.


(Lizzie Bennet Diaries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ncnZjwF50k)

(BBC – Pride & Prejudice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgkS5_PTfZQ)

The interactive elements of the Lizzie Bennet diaries include: a twitter account and feed;  Facebook accounttumblr account,  google+, and pinterest.  Are these merely marketing devices in order to promote the main product – the videos – or those an integral part of the package?  Whereas one could watch all the videos and not feel a lack for having missed out on the other channels, I doubt the other channels would be equally “stand alone”.  However, the series has received some serious academic and literary interest, for example in this article from the Jane Austen Society of North America, as well as being the topic of various theses and a conference presentation.

In her presentation, Marilyn Francus made some interesting points about multiple levels of immersion in a literary work and how the unmediated interactive experience through the social media channels enhanced this immersion. This made me wonder if the experience and engagement is different if one is following and participating in the type of medium as it unfolds versus in retrospect as I have been doing.

All in all it has been an interesting experience and one that has perhaps raised more questions than answers for me.



  • BBCWorldwide. (2008, February 11). Pride and Prejudice: Marriage Proposal. [Video file]. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgkS5_PTfZQ
  • Carlson, A. (2014, Spring). Social Media Storytelling in the Classroom: A Re- imagining of Pride and Prejudice in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (Honors Program Theses). Rollins College. Retrieved from http://scholarship.rollins.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=honors&sei-redir=1&referer=http://scholar.google.com.sg/scholar?hl=en&q=%2522Lizzie+Bennet+diaries%2522&btnG=&as_sdt=1%252C5&as_sdtp=#search=%22Lizzie%20Bennet%20diaries%22
  • Francus, M. (2013, October 22). Pride and Prejudice Goes Interactive: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Video presented at the Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial, Paper 5. Retrieved from http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/celia_pride/conference/october11/5
  • Haag, M. (2013, March 23). Neil Gaiman’s amazing A Calendar of Tales now available. CrackBerry.com. [Web log post]. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://crackberry.com/neil-gaimans-amazing-calendar-tales-now-available
  • Leacock, T. L., & Nesbit, J. C. (2007). A Framework for Evaluating the Quality of Multimedia Learning Resources. Educational Technology & Society, 10(2), 44–59.
  • Pemberley Digital. (2013, March 21). The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gratitude – Ep: 98. [Video file]. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ncnZjwF50k
  • Pemberley Digital. (2013, August 22). Emmy Award Winning, Interactive Web Series “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” Immerses Fans into Jane Austen’s Timeless Classic [Press Release]. Lizziebennet.com. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://www.lizziebennet.com/press-release/
  • Treharne, E. (2014, January 9). Beowulf in a Hundred Tweets : #Beow100. Text Technologies. [Web log post]. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://historyoftexttechnologies.blogspot.sg/2014/01/beowulf-in-hundred-tweets-beow100.html