Archive of ‘Digital Literacy’ category

5 reasons we need an iCentre Website


As we continue to travel along the path of re-visioning our iCentre virtual spaces, we have been investigating what a website, Library Management System (LMS) and social media can offer school library services.  Our research has been interesting and we easily agreed that the LMS and social media are vital virtual spaces for our services.  The Library Management Systems we have investigated are web-based, learner-centred, sophisticated and interactive and as such, we have been challenged to consider the question: is an iCentre Website necessary?  Our conclusion is a resounding YES and here are the reasons why:

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-26-pmWe model the literacy of participation

Jenkins et al. argue that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes (2006, p.3).  Crockett, Jukes and Chruches (2011, p.14), O’Leary (2012, para.18), and Seely Brown (2012, p.15) are also among those advocating the necessity of educating for participation because individuals who find themselves lacking such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace. Many of the skills and mindsets outlined by these authors, require schools to transition from a scholarship practice that uses technology as a tool to enhance research to a social scholarship practice “in which the use of social tools is an integral part of the research and publishing process and is characterized by openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision” (Pearce et al. & Cohen as cited in Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.767).  The iCentre website models this literacy of participation through publishing blogs, connecting with social media, and the open sharing of learning.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-39-pmWe serve a community not just students & teachers

The college community served by the iCentre is broader than the students and teachers on campus.  In particular, parents, as the primary educators, are an important part of our community.  One of the roles of the iCentre is to provide leadership in digital citizenship.  The website regularly curates and publishes information on how parents can assist their children to develop the capacity to build a positive digital footprint that showcases their learning interests, talents, and successes, and enables them to build social skills and cultural competencies.  This content also includes resources that will assist the community to use information and technology safely, legally and ethically.  To this end, the iCentre website is a valuable tool because it provides learning experiences that enable the community to engage in positive digital practices that are relevant and timely.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-50-pmWe value networks

Technological shifts have changed the culture of learning to one in which the classroom is now global and provides learners with access to “nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc.55).  In this new culture, learning resides in the ability to form networks and learning how to learn, what to learn, who to learn with and when to learn is more important than the mastery of content (Olsen, 2011, p.22).  It is argued that understanding both digital competencies and new ways of learning in order to model digital citizenship become possible when educators take on the responsibility of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.10).  The iCentre website is one of the tools we use to connect with our colleagues in education – it is part of our learning network.  We have had many instances of professionals from other school libraries making suggestions for our website, contributing content to our website, and contacting us through the website in order to visit and share knowledge.  Such connections have been invaluable to the service we offer our community.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-59-pmWe value Open Scholarship

A trend that has been identified in 21st Century scholarship is an “openness” resultant from developing digital communication and networked technologies (Pearce et al., 2010, p.37).  According to Katz, this trend towards open content, knowledge and learning will offer great opportunities for scholars (2010, p.6).  The Creative Commons movement, which has opened up access to licensed creative content and also allows individuals to license work for others to share, is one example of how openness can lower barriers and democratize learning.  By sharing resources and learning through the iCentre website, we too are participating in a form of open scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-44-09-pmWe want to share our story

At this year’s Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond has valuable outcomes and the iCentre website has proved a powerful way to share our story.


Crockett, L.,Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. [Epub]. Kelowna, B:C: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robinson, A., J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Olsen, R. (2011). Understanding virtual pedagogies for contemporary teaching & learning (pp. 1-32, Rep.). Victoria: IdeasLAB.

Pearce, N.,Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Ashleigh, M. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1), 33-44.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal Learning Networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Cictoria: Solution Tree Press.

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No. 4 in Singapore: Learning in and for the 21st Century Singapore. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks.  Computers & Education, 58,, 766-774. Retrieved from http://10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001


Learning in the Digital Age = Participation


One of the key themes that have been impressed upon students engaged in the Master of Education Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course (MedKNDI) is that learning in the digital age involves understanding and participating in digital cultures.

Throughout these studies, I have also been introduced to some expert educators and researchers discussing the idea of participatory digital cultures.  Some researchers that appear regularly in my reference lists include Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito, Danah Boyd, John Seely Brown, Doug Johnson, Howard Rheingold, Christine Greenhow, Mike Ribble, Helen Haste, Will Richardson, Selen Turkay and James Paul Gee.

The challenge these thought provokers pose to those of us teaching in schools is:

How can we embed opportunities for participation into our programmes, curriculums, pedagogies, and spaces so that our students may “develop the cultural competencies and social skills” for full involvement in society (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison & Weigel, 2006, p.4)?  The key it is suggested, is to consider how students can learn, participate, create and produce within and beyond the classroom.

As we complete the course and engage in the colloquiums on offer, it is my goal to consider my professional practice as a teacher-librarian and my responsibility to prepare students to participate and thrive in the constantly evolving landscape of the digital age.

A useful guide for this reflective investigation is the 2016 standards for students recently produced by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  I have used this publication to develop goals for enhancing my professional practice during and beyond the studies undertaken in INF537: Digital Futures Colloquium.

Learning goals for digital futures


Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robison, A., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st Century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation, Chicago. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). THE 2016 ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

INF541 Reflection – Assessment 5 – Part B

Game based learning

As a Teacher-Librarian, the delivery of school library services, classroom pedagogy and the impact of technology on learners and learning, has been a key focus of my practice. To this end, INF541 Game based learning has been both relevant and professionally interesting.  In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote that I was interested in being immersed in game based learning:

  • for professional growth;
  • to explore the research on why educators believe it is necessary to incorporate games, game design and programming into contemporary education and investigate how they are going about doing this;
  • to spend time playing games;
  • in order to better understand and prepare students for work, study and life in modern society, by learning if and how games can build critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity; and
  • to mentor, resource and support colleagues to experiment with GBL in their own classrooms.

The course work for Game based learning has provided many opportunities in these areas and significantly broadened my thinking about future directions at our school.

Professional growth

Professional growth has certainly been an outcome of completing Game based learning.  The environments we were encouraged to participate in, the resources and readings provided and the assessment items all extended my knowledge and have begun to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian.  In particular, the reflective blogging and collaboration in Twitter have been a fruitful process for me.  I found this kept me on track with the work load of the coarse, encouraged me to think deeply about topics and connecting to the blogs of other students provided insights that have informed and resonated with my own practice.

Exploring the research

One of the opportunities afforded through the course was to read a wide range of literature throughout the modules. In particular, exploring this research highlighted that digital games have the potential to enhance learning, yet adding them to the curriculum in formal settings is no simple matter.  On this point, educators interested in games for learning need to consider the games available, classroom and game pedagogy, frameworks for adoption, teacher training, and implementation strategies. It is also essential to consider the need for sound pedagogical practice when using games to teach.  While some authors, such as Gee, believe that good games incorporate good learning and identifying the learning inherent in games is of prime importance (2005, p.34), an alternative view is that successful game based learning requires a lot more of a teacher than finding a good game.  A valuable point is that teachers seek the sweet spot between game design and educational process for the effective adoption of games for learning (Arnab et al., 2012, p.162).  Consequently, teachers interested in games for learning need to be aware that planning this type of learning is a challenging and demanding prospect. Taking these points into consideration will be enormously important for my leadership in school library services as I contemplate how to include games in our school library collection, propose the establishment of a gaming space in the school library and support classroom teachers to include game-based learning into their curriculum.

The course work for Games based learning has also informed my library practice.  As a teacher-librarian, information literacy is a primary focus of my work. I decided to focus my compendium chapter on researching why school libraries should be motivated to use and promote game based learning. This work has provided some very practical ways that our school library can move towards becoming a space and a service that offers opportunities into the participatory cultures of digital games.

Spend time playing games

INF541 challenged participants to develop a questing disposition and identify and evaluate a range of games and game environments through direct experience and immersion.  In an early blog post, I revealed that “my use of game-based learning and understanding of the potential of games for learning is quite limited.  Just as Griffith University professor of education Dr Catherine Beavis identified that schools still have a way to go before they can harness the full educational potential of video games (Jennings, 2012), so too do I”.  Further blog posts document the games I experimented with during my learning journey in this subject.  In the post titled Playing around, six of these games are discussed.  These were a mixture of games produced for educational and entertainment purposes.  Later, as part of the research for the compendium chapter, I became curious to play a game called Portal to explore the claims that it could build information seeking skills.  My experience is documented in the blog post titled A Gen X and Millennial conversation about Portal.

As the subject draws to a close, the challenges and opportunities afforded have been many and have already started to impact my working life. In particular, I believe these understandings need to be translated to practice so that digital games will improve the opportunities of the students we work with.  I have not only had the privilege to read about digital games for learning but have also experienced the possibilities of learning through games and look forward to extending this to students so they are better equipped to solve problems creatively in a future that will require it.


Arnab, S.,Berta, R., Earp, J., De Freitas, S., Popescu, M., Romero, M., Stanescu, I., & Usart, M. (2012). Framing the adoption of serious games in formal education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2),159 – 171. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (2014). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Second Edition . [Electronic version]. New York: St Martin’s Press.

Jennings, J. (2014, November 30). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 7, 2016, from






A Gen X and Millennial conversation about Portal


During research on games and their ability to impact information literacy, I came across an article that discussed the potential of Portal by Valve to do just do that.  As part of the course work for #INF541 at CSU, I had also challenged myself to experiment with game play as I have little personal experience in these environments.  And so, I purchased the game.

After half an hour of trying to figure out what to do next, I finally entered the game world.

My reading had told me that the goal of the game was to move through portals into different rooms and that each movement represented a puzzle that I had to figure out through trial-and-error.  I had even come across a ‘cheat’ saying that the first solution involved moving a cube onto a button to open the Portal.  I thought “I’m going to nail this”.

After another half an hour, I finally figured out how to go forward, backwards and left to right but where was the cube? I just seemed to keep running into walls – was there even anything in this room?

My next move was to call my fifteen-year-old son to come and help me.  He was disgusted – “Mum, look around you?”

Ha? What? I can look around?

My son then proceeded to tell me that I just don’t have a 2D brain.


Next, he told me that the game is just about solving puzzles.  This is exactly what the literature had also stated so I spent another hour in the game and did eventually manage to find a cube and open a portal.  However, I am sad to say I never did solve another puzzle.  To be honest, I am still trying to understand how the game is a puzzle.  It is completely unlike any other puzzle I have ever completed.

Clearly, I have a long way to go ……

However, what the experience did reinforce is the idea that playing digital games does necessitate the following skills and dispositions:


problem solving

active discovery

intuitive knowledge






Digital games and literacy


In Australia, the contemporary digital landscape has impacted educational systems.  According to Carrington, students today are surrounded by ever-evolving digital technologies and practices (as cited in O’Connell, 2014, para.2).  Consequently, the curriculum must now be “built on a view of literacy that encompasses but extends beyond traditional print and oral forms to include digital [and] multimodal forms” of information (Beavis and Apperley, 2012, p.12).

Digital games are one form of media that have been introduced to classrooms as learning tools (Van Eck, 2006, p.16).  Because of this, Beavis, O’Mara, and McNeice suggest we need to investigate how digital games function as new forms of text and literacy (2012, p.4).  Unlike traditional literacy which is largely inactive, games require a combination of understanding text, images, and sound as well as physical activity.  To understand the literacy of digital games, Beavis and Apperley maintain that we need a model that considers games as both action and text (2012, p.13).  to this end, Galloway states that “while games’ meanings are negotiated and produced in the interaction between text and reader, as is the case with any text, it is important to understand how the are enacted and instantiated through action (as cited in Beavis and Apperley 2012, p.14).

In conclusion, digital games have expanded our definition of literacy to incorporate physical interactions.  It will be interesting to observe how other emerging technologies that integrate sensory and immersive experiences and augmented reality further alter future definitions of literacy.


Beavis, C., & Apperley, T. (2012). A model for games and literacy. In C. Beavis, J. O’mara, & L. McNeice (Ed.). Digital games: Literacy in action (12- 23.). Kent Town: Wakefield Press.

Beavis, C.,O’Mara, J., & McNeice, L. (2012). Literacy learning and computer games: A curriculum challenge for our times . In C. Beavis, J. O’Mara, & L. McNeice (Ed.). Digital Games: Literacy in action (3- 11.). Kent Town: Wakefield Press.

O’Connell, J. (2014). Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age: INF530 Module 1 [Electronic material]. Retrieved from

Van Eck, R.(2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who arerestless. Educause review, 41(2),16 – 30. Retrieved from


Using games to develop socially inclusive classrooms

How might games be used to develop a more socially inclusive classroom using Gee’s viewpoint?

socially inclusive classroom pic

In the article Good video games and good learning, Gee suggests that “challenge” and “learning” are what makes video games motivating and entertaining (2005, p.34).  He also asserts that schools fail to engage many of the learning principles he identifies as characteristic of games (pp. 34 – 37).  Furthermore, Gee challenges the reader to consider how we might make learning in schools more game-like (p. 37) and by extension, more intellectually stimulating, progressive and socially inclusive.   In particular, Gee’s article identifies customization and cross-functional teams as two learning principles that might be used to develop a more socially inclusive classroom.

Customization, Gee states, occurs in video games when the player is able to choose from different difficulty levels in order to match their ability and individual problem solving style (2005, p. 35).  Paul Anderson supports the use of customised learning through game-based pedagogy, stating that this allows students to move at their own pace through a mastery system.  This, he would argue, is more socially inclusive than a traditional teacher centred classroom where the teacher decides the pace with mixed results for students, leaving some bored and others confused (2012, 3min.30sec.).  This argument for game-based learning would appeal to educators who embrace cognitive theories of learning because user-based flexibility allows players to adjust the learning to fit their cognitive needs over time (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes and Vicari, 2014, p.7).  Gee’s viewpoint takes customization of curricula one step further stating that it should go beyond self-pacing and include “real intersections between the curriculum and the learner’s interests, desires, and styles” (2005, p.35).  Such customization to match students’ abilities and personality has been found to increase motivation and depth of engagement and improve learning (Turkay, 2014, p.10) and consequently results in more inclusive classrooms.

Games belonging to the massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming genre require players to be part of cross-functional teams.  Within such teams, each player must have a specialist skill set that is different to the other members of the team.  Players must also understand that problem solving within these games requires the integration of the different skill sets of the other players in the team (Gee, 2012, 1min. 26sec.).  Such games might be viewed by Gee as socially inclusive because they value an individual’s skill and knowledge as well as encouraging a commitment to a common endeavour (2005, p.37).  Baumeister and Leary (as cited in King, Defabbro and Griffiths, 2009, p.106) support this viewpoint, stating that MMOs satisfy a fundamental human need to belong to social groups.  The potential for such games to develop a socially inclusive classroom can only be realised, however, if teachers are able to evaluate, select and implement games in classroom settings and Turkay et al argue that many fell ill-equipped to do so (2014, p.3). Consequently, although Gee asserts that modern schools must be more like modern workplaces who value the forms of affiliation encouraged in gaming environments (2005, p.37), he does not provide any research or advice on how teachers might integrate such games into their curriculum and pedagogy.

The evidence that games have potential to impact positively on learning is compelling (Beavis, Rowan, Dezuanni, McGillivray, O’Mara, Prstridge, Stieler-hunt, Thompson and Zagami, 2014, p.569).  From Gee’s viewpoint, one such potential is that games could be used to develop a more socially inclusive classroom because they incorporate the learning principals of customization and cross-functional teams.  Such potential will be reached when teachers feel equipped with the knowledge and practicalities of implementing game-based learning in the classroom.


Anderson. P. (2012, April 24). Classroom game design: Paul Anderson at TEDxBozeman. Retrieved from

Beavis, C.,Rowan, L., Dezuanni, R., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge, S., Stieler-Hunt, C., … Zagami, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(6), 569-581.

Gee, P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.

Gee, P. (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on learning with video games. Retrieved from

King, D.,Delfabbro, P., & Griffiths, M. (2010). Video game structural characteristics: A new psychological taxonoy. Int J Ment Health Addiction, 8, 90-106.

Turkay, S.,Hoffman, D., Kinzer, C., Chantes, P., & Vicari, C. (2014). Toward understanding the potential of games for learning: Learning theory, game design characteristics, and situating video games in classrooms . Computers in the schools, 31, 2-22.

INF533 Reflection Assessment 4 – Part C

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Literature in digital environments (INF533) has challenged participants to incorporate digital environments into their schemata for both the literature genre and literacy pedagogy. Throughout the modules in this course, we were challenged to consider questions such as:

  • What impact has the digital revolution had on books, reading and literature?
  • What challenges and opportunities might digital literature bring to the classroom?
  • What are the policy and practice considerations for including digital literature in school library collections?

These questions have been considered in the reflection on learning in INF533 that follows.

Changing definitions

Once upon a time storytelling was an oral tradition. Due to Gutenberg’s press, it evolved to include print. The Third Industrial Revolution has expanded the mediums of storytelling yet again and the narratives and dialogues of human experience are now also shared via interactive, transmedia, digital spaces. In the twenty-first century, when someone tells us they are reading a book, it can no longer be assumed that they are turning paper pages from the beginning to the end of a story. While this may be the case, they might also be plugged in, clicking, swiping, pinching, listening, viewing or interacting (Sadokierski, 2012). Lamb suggests that a book can now be defined as a published collection of related pages or screens (2011, p.13). As discussed in a blog post on this topic, titled Digital storytelling – distinguishing features, these new forms of storytelling not only change our definition of the physical book but also require new conceptions of author, editor, publisher and reader. Associated with this shift is a new breed of reader who, with the availability of connective technologies, is vocal, social, creative and collaborative resulting in reciprocal relationships between authors and readers (James Kennedy, as cited in Valenza & Stephens, 2012, p.78). Further to this, new technologies are changing our view of literature. An author goes beyond the classical definition of literature when they integrate digital and literary features in authentic ways and a synergy is formed between textual, artistic, multimodal and functional elements (Walsh, 2013, p.187). Consequently, the very nature of narrative and story are changing because of digital environments (Unsworth, 2008, p.63). These new definitions of book, reader and literature hold important implications for those involved in school libraries where literacy is the goal and the focus of our life work is to educate young people for successful futures.

Changing literacies

The emergence of digital literature means that new reading environments are now connected and participatory and this has implications for our understanding of what it means to be literate. Digital literacy broaches the idea that participation in contemporary society requires a set of skills beyond those of traditional literacy that included reading, writing, listening and speaking. Rowan states that “this is not just a question about working on screens rather than on paper, it is about moving between different forms and different genres with a degree of confidence. It is about editing and production” (2012, p.112). It follows then that literacy pedagogy also needs to be examined and Walsh’s research confirms that literacy needs to be redefined within current curriculum contexts (2010, p.211).  As discussed in the blog post titled The place for digital storytelling in the classroom, incorporating digital texts and storytelling into classroom programs has the potential to provide students with opportunities for comprehending narrative elements, engagement in collaborative and explorative production practices and building digital competencies. Exposing students to multimodal literature and an opportunity to experiment with producing such stories is one method of digital literacy pedagogy explored in INF533 via the Digital storytelling project.

The digital story experiment

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.40.53 pm

Through the Digital storytelling project, I was required to create a digital text, experiment with digital tools and platforms, experience social-networked literature and incorporate digital media texts into reading and literacy experiences in the school context. Pushing beyond my comfort zone, I chose to create a fan fiction response to John Green’s The fault in our stars on Instagram. Among the students for whom this project was designed, Instagram is the social media tool of choice and was therefore selected for this project. As a platform for digital storytelling, Instagram presented a number of challenges. These included copyright considerations, embedding multimedia elements and offering the reader an opportunity to interact with the story. These challenges and the creative problem solving used to overcome them are discussed in the blog post: Fan fiction on Instagram – the digital story experiment.

Changing professional practice

The reality that the digital revolution is changing books, storytelling and reading is a fact teacher librarians need to embrace because it has implications for our pedagogy and library management. These implications are discussed in three blog posts written for INF533:

In essence, the world is now characterised by ubiquitous connectivity and change resulting in the need for school library practitioners to redefine reading, remodel collections and rethink pedagogy in order to support students’ literacy development and promote lifelong reading practices.


Fora.TV. (2009, September 23). Once Upon These Times: New Stories for New Audiences [Video file]. Retrieved from

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live

Rowan, L. (2012). Imagining futures (Ch. 13). In L. Rowan, & C. Bigum (Ed.),Transformative approaches to new technologies and student diversity in futures oriented classrooms: Future proofing education (pp. 217-225). Dordrecht: Springer Science +Business Media B.V.

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved October 02, 2015, from

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Valenza, J. K., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved from

Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal literacy: What does it mean for classroom practice? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, (October), 211-239. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from




Fan fiction on Instagram – the digital story experiment

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The project

This digital storytelling venture endeavoured to create a fan fiction response to The fault in our stars by John Green and consisted of Instagram posts from Hazel Grace Lancaster, the protagonist of this story and a connected website containing author notes.

It was a conscious decision to make the reader aware that the Instagram posts were a fan fiction response because fandom is a theme presented in the novel and because John Green himself has commented on fan fiction, social media and the relationship that exists between an author and reader.

Two interviews I discovered with John Green prompted this idea for a project that combined social media, fanfiction and The fault in our stars. The first was an interview by Zuckerman (2014), in which John Green states:

“I am really interested in fandom because I am a fan myself”;


“I think in the age of the internet – in the age of social media – it’s just much harder to separate the artist from the art. Particularly when the artist is constantly inserting himself into the conversation on Twitter or Tumblr or whatever”.

Secondly, in this extract from a Youtube interview with John Green on the red carpet of The fault in our stars film premier, he discusses the future of media and the relationship between the author and the reader. Both of these concepts have been of particular interest to me throughout the course of Literature in digital environments (INF533).

The challenges

Among the students for whom this project was designed, Instagram is the social media tool of choice and was therefore selected for this project. As a platform for digital storytelling, Instagram presented a number of challenges:

  • Firstly, it was time consuming to produce images that were my own creations or licensed for reuse. One solution I found was the Canva platform that proved very useful for the creation of original images to use throughout the story. Creative Commons images were also a good resource for this project.
  • A second difficulty with using the Instagram platform is that, on face-value, it is quite superficial. In order to go beyond image sharing, and create the multimedia elements Lamb describes as necessary for a transmedia story (2011, p.15), I had to research how to use and incorporate other apps such as Flipagram.
  • Finally, creating the opportunity for interactivity and collaboration between author and reader is a feature of digital storytelling that allows the audience to become part of the journey (Fora, 2009, 24min,10sec). To provide an interactive facility in Instagram beyond ‘liking’ posts required some thought and the resultant comments and posts from readers were a highlight of the project.

The highlights

For me, the biggest highlights of the project occurred when readers interacted with the story. These included:

Occasions when readers spontaneously responded to a post:


Reader responses to questions that were embedded into the text of posts:


Content contributed by readers when invited to share with a hash tag:

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Comments and questions added by readers to the forum in the connected website:

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My favourite response was when two readers discussed and issue raised with one another:

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It may never end ……..

When discussing Instagram with the students in my class, they have a very strong opinion that one post per day is the accepted convention when using this social media. Adhering to this convention meant that only twenty-seven posts were achieved for this project. As a fan fiction piece, this story will persist as long as the author (the fan) wishes to continue interacting with the text this way. Because the reader has become involved in the story, the author also loses some control over the structure of the narrative, and as observed by Fitzgelrald, the digital story may not have a narrative conclusion (2013, 8min50sec). As an assessment piece for a university subject, this also poses an interesting conundrum to the notion of a due date. The story present at the time of submission may in fact be different to the story read at the time of marking.


Beyond the Trailer (Director). (2014, June 5). The Fault in Our Stars interview 2014 : John Green, Hank Green, Wyck Godfrey [Video file]. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from

Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Literature in Digital Environments [INF533 Module 6.1]. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:…

Fora.TV. (2009, September 23). Once Upon These Times: New Stories for New Audiences [Video file]. Retrieved from

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live

Zuckerman, E. (2014, May 06). ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green on fandom and his favorite YA romances. Wire. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from



Considering copyright for digital environments


As teacher librarians we are charged with the stewardship of school libraries and the resources within them. This stewardship translates to the task of ensuring the conservation, organisation and responsible use of information, cultural and physical resources. One core responsibility that falls under the umbrella of stewardship is understanding, protecting and teaching copyright. The Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, stipulate excellent teacher librarians will do this by: applying information management practices and systems that are consistent with national standards (Australian School Library Association [ASLA], 2004, standard 2.3); and modelling the sharing of knowledge within their community (ASLA, 2004, standard 3.4).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that “everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author” (United Nations, 2015, Article 27). Robert Levine argues that such protection of creators’ rights is well provided for by copyright (2013, 7min45sec). However, managing copyright in the digital age has become a very complicated and confusing arena that requires careful consideration for creators and consumers alike (Levine, 2013, 13min27sec). Issues facing teacher librarians in this area include copyright legislation, Digital Rights Management (DRM) and licensing agreements (Fitzgerald, 2015, para.1). In my school library, tasks impacted by copyright and digital platforms include the loaning of eBooks and audiobooks, the use of digital textbooks, digital video resources, software use, publishing content on the library website and social media accounts and educating teachers about fair use for resources uploaded to Moodle, the Learning Management System (LMS) used by our school.

While the stewardship of resources is important, most teacher librarians would consider the student and their learning as the primary focus of all that we do. For our students, copyright is something we need to teach if we are preparing them for successful futures, particularly as the workforce they are entering will require them to produce and publish content on websites and via social media. In these environments, it is essential that students understand their ethical and legal responsibilities when using the work of others. It is also important that they know what rights they have to their own creative content. One method of applying this knowledge to the classroom is requiring students to publish online because this carries attribution expectations beyond a bibliography. When students are required to find images and media licensed for reuse or create and license their own media, they begin to appreciate intellectual property and creative rights and the implications of copyright infringement. We have found that accessing resources that can be reused, shared or remixed via Creative Commons has been an essential skill. We also advocate students use the Creative Commons licensing tool to exercise control of their own creations. This, I believe, is a key literacy for the 21st century and when students are allowed to participate in digital environments, do they understand the connotations of ethical use.


Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from

Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Literature in Digital Environments [INF533 Module 6.1]. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:…

Levine, R. (Director). (2013, January 31). Rovert Levine on copyright, content and the digital economy [Video file]. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from

United Nations. (2015). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Image Attribution 

Geralt, Email Keyboard Computer Copyright Author, CC0 Public Domain



Book Review: Whitechapel Real Time by The History Press

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments.

Whitechapel real time (@WChapelRealTime) is a historical retelling of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ mystery.  The story, published by The History Press, is delivered via micro-blogging in a Twitter feed and supported by additional content on the publisher’s website and Facebook page.  This project was written in 2013 between the 24th of August and the 11th of November to mark the 125 year anniversary of the first ‘Jack the Ripper’ murder.  The History Press state that all content for the story was thoroughly researched in order to accurately portray Victorian society during 1888 (2013a, para.1).  It can be identified that this story is a digitally originated literary text and due to elaborations in the form of factual information, non-fiction artefacts and links, this text can be categorised as an interactive story (Unsworth, 2006, p.3).  The success of Whitechapel real time is its ability to engage readers through literary devices, interactive opportunities and thoughtful design.

Whitechapel real time is a complex narrative that contains a number of literary elements including a fast-paced plot, character development and an evocative setting.  The content of Whitechapel real time is the result of work by historians, some calling themselves ‘Ripperologists’, who researched primary and secondary sources to produce a historically focused story (Dangerfield, 2013, para.26).  The plot follows events that unfolded over four months in 1888 and is delivered via first-person tweets.  Characters are identifiable by hashtagged names at the start of tweets.  By retelling these events from the perspectives of local people at the time, such as reporters, dock workers and policemen, the feed develops characterisation, allowing the reader to feel empathy for those touched by the crimes.  These tweets are interspersed with photographs and artefacts from Victorian London (as seen in the examples below) that create setting and build atmosphere as the plot progresses.  The use of these artefacts and visuals demonstrate synergy between the digital features and literary elements of the story (Walsh, 013, p.189), and is a strength of the publication.


Whitechapel real time is not the first instance of The History Press experimenting with Twitter to publish a story.  They had previously received praise for the Titanic real time project that was published in 2012 and amassed over 111, 000 followers (Brown, 2013, para.14).  Kasman Valenza and Stephens state that such experimentation with new forms of reading is a trend among authors who aim to appeal to young readers that have grown up surrounded by digital media (2012, p.2).  These platforms promise to engage users by offering them opportunities for interaction and feedback.  Such interaction is evident in Whitechapel real time when the reader is offered the opportunity to follow links to further historical information about the events and people identified in the story.  There is evidence that readers of Whitechapel real time retweeted, replied to tweets and quoted tweets and as such were engaged in the interactive structures offered. Thus, the Twitter steam grants the reader of Whitechapel real time choice and control over the text and provides a space for discourse between the author and reader (Skains, 2010, p.98).

WCRT interaction

Using a micro-blogging environment to tell a story has design implications for the reader.  One such design effect of using Twitter to read a story is the impact of fragmented delivery.  On this point, opinion is divided about the ability of Twitter literature to capture the reader through a narrative that is revealed gradually.  Franklin states that tweeting a story line by line doesn’t work because “attempting to follow a live narrative on Twitter makes readers hyperaware of the down time between tweets (2014, para.10).  Yet, Fitzgerald states that reading a story live on twitter builds suspense because the reader has no control over when they can read them (2013, para.6). Furthermore, Davis argues that the compulsory short, sharp nature of micro-blogging results in works that are “oddly poetic on both a visual and conceptual level” (2008, p.14).  A good design decision of The History Press was to deliver the story of Whitechapel real time via one Twitter handle.  If the story had been delivered via multiple handles or hashtags, readers would have experienced difficulty in assembling the pieces later (Franklin, 2014, para.9).  Interestingly, because of the nature of social media, the experience of reading this book live was only possible during the ten weeks of publication.  Within this reading, the reader was reliant on waiting for new tweets to move ahead in the plot.  Subsequent readings of the story do not necessitate down time between tweets but do require the reader to scroll backwards to the beginning of the Twitter feed and work their way through the tweets. Consequently, the design of a Twitter feed narrative such as Whitechapel real time has different impacts for different readers.

Conclusively, Whitechapel real time is an example of an interactive story published on a Twitter feed.  This story combines literary elements, interactive structures and design features to engage readers in history, in particular the events of 1888 during which the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders took place in Victorian London.


Brown, E. (2013, August 22). ‘Whitechapel Real Time’ Twitter project marks 125 years of multiple murders [Web log post]. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Dangerfield, A. (2013, August 23). Twitter real-time explores Jack the Ripper murders. BBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Davis, O. (2008). Twittered texts. Meanjin, 67(4), 14. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from;dn=078749604341308;res=IELAPA

Fitzgerald, A. (Director). (2013, July). Adventures in Twitter fiction [Video file]. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Franklin, R. (2014). Character development: It’s been touted as a revolutionary platform for expression, but does Twitter literature really have a future? Foreign Policy, November-December, 104. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013a). White Chapel Real Time. Retrieved August 15, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013b). The History Press Publisher [Facebook Page]. Retrieved from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Skains, R. L. (2010). The shifting author-reader dynamic. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 96-111. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

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

@WChapelRealTime. (2013, August 24 – November 11). WhiteChapelRealTime [Twitter feed]. Retrieved from

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