Archive of ‘technology’ category

5 reasons we need an iCentre Website

is-an-icentre-website-necessary

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.

References

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 http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/making-connections-to-end-digital-divide-20121009-27aul.html#ixzz2nF0cHrLS

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 http://www.johnseelybrown.com/CJKoh.pdf

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

 

Case Study: iCentre digital spaces: what path should we take now?

Title:
Designing iCentre digital spaces for school library service delivery: what path should we take now?

Goal:
The goal of this study is to evaluate both our current digital spaces and potential design changes in order to maintain dynamic and appropriate school library web services.

case-study-hs1

Description:
The library team at an all-girls secondary college in Brisbane, Queensland have begun a new phase in strategic directions. In 2016, new contexts have demanded a change in thinking about learning, life and work in the modern world.  The world now is change-filled and necessitates an approach that understands “everything we produce remains a work in process, in perpetual beta” (Richardson, 2016, para.5). This has implications for the services offered by the iCentre.  Evaluating and re-visioning the iCentre digital spaces is an important step in this process. A new vision and mission statement have been developed and the team has identified that the purpose of a revisioned digital space for the iCentre is to allow the college community to experience and learn the literacies of a connected world.  Due to timeframes and practical implications, this case study will only investigate the Library Management System and the iCentre Website.  Despite being essential to the provision of literacy development by the iCentre, social Media services will not be investigated at this time.

Expected Outcome of the project:
This case study will detail and analyse two of the existing virtual spaces, the Library Management System (LMS) and the iCentre Website with a view to understanding the contextual school library needs of the community and make recommendations to the iCentre team for their ongoing strategic plans.  The case study aims to adopt an evidence-based approach with an information science focus, incorporating user feedback, best research evidence and the professional experience and expertise of the iCentre team and external partners (Booth, 2002, p.53).

Two key research questions will guide this case study:

RQ.1   Do the current iCentre digital spaces meet our communities needs for school library services?

RQ. 2 What are the key considerations for the future of iCentre digital services and spaces identified from research evidence, user feedback and professional experience and expertise?

Case study plan:
The major steps required to complete the case study project include:

Digital School Library Services Research

*   Research the literature on best practice in digital school library services

*   Research the context of the iCentre school library services

*   Research the literature on emerging trends in school library services

Library Management System Research

*   Identify the needs for an LMS

*   Identify the contextual positives & negatives of the current LMS

*   Research and evaluate alternative LMS providers

Website

*   Identify the needs for an iCentre Website

*   Identify the contextual positives & negatives of the current iCentre Website

*   Research and evaluate design changes for the iCentre Website

The resources required:

*   Research for literature review

*   Meeting time with iCentre team

*   Contact details for LMS system providers and schools using those systems

*   Meeting with Website developers

*   Release time to visit school and investigate a variety of LMS

*   Survey artefacts

*   Focus Group interviews

*   PMI feedback on LMS choices for iCentre team

A projected timeline (Due October 10)

July 11 –  August 31

Focus Group – iCentre team complete a PMI of current LMS

Focus Group – iCentre team brainstorm needs of the iCentre website

Survey – students needs of the iCentre website (10% of student population – equal horizontal representation of students from year 7 – 12)

Survey – staff needs of iCentre website

Visit schools to view a range of LMSs

Meeting with website developers

Meetings with LMS providers for professional demonstration of products

LMS PMI artifact completed by iCentre staff

September 1 – 30

Literature review –  best practice in digital school library services

Literature review – emerging trends in school library services

Focus group with students finding information in different web environments – observational data and interview

Drafting case study report including recommendations for potential design changes in order to maintain dynamic and appropriate school library web services.

Seek feedback on processes and findings on INF537 Forums & via blog posts

October 1 – 10

Finalise case study report for submission

References

Learning in the Digital Age = Participation

Lighthouse

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

References

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 http://wheatoncollege.edu/president/files/2012/03/Confronting-Challenges-of-Participatory-Culture.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). THE 2016 ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

A Gen X and Millennial conversation about Portal

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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.

TRUE

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:

Skills

problem solving

active discovery

intuitive knowledge

Dispositions

perseverance

determination

curiosity

trial-and-error

Playing Around

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As a student of INF541, I have been encouraged to explore games in order to understand the dynamics, features, appeal and the educational value they may offer to modern curriculums and pedagogy.  Prior to undertaking this subject, I had very little experience with digital games and so have been purposefully playing around in order to expand my knowledge of these environments.  Here are a few I have tried out:

Proof

This game is downloaded as an App and requires the participant to set a self-identified challenge and then to invite others to compete to achieve the goals or join a pre-existing challenge.  This can be used for anything including changing a habit, a fitness challenge, setting study goals or saving money.  Categories of existing challenges that a participant can join include health, relationships, career, creativity, finances, lifestyle, spirituality and just for fun.  This game counts on the motivation of competing against others to reach the top of a leaderboard.  This is much like the current trend of wearing a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit.

Quandary

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Quandary is an ethical decision-making game that sets a context where players lead a new human colony on a distant planet.  The establishment of the colony requires the player to make difficult decisions that do not have a clear right or wrong answer.  The developers of the game, claim that it develops skills such as “critical thinking, perspective-taking, and decision-making”.  This game is quite text heavy and although I quite enjoyed playing it, when I trialed it with a focus group of year eight students, they expressed mixed reactions to the game.

Freerice

Freerice is a game that provides learning with social activism.  The game allows participants to choose a subject that interests them and then answer multiple-choice, content knowledge questions on that topic.  Subject include English, Humanities, Maths, Chemistry, Language Learning, Geography, and Sciences.  For each correct answer, the participant earns 20 grains of rice that will be donated to feed the hungry.  Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by the United Nations World Food Program who claim that they have goals: “to provide free education and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free”.  This game and the resultant food donation is made possible through sponsors who pay to advertise on the site.  In terms of fun, this game is really drill-and-practice quizzes and can become quite repetitive.  It receives a positive rating from Common Sense Media who rate media based on both age appropriateness and  learning potential.

Spent

Spent invites players to experience what it might be like to have to survive living on the poverty line.  Players are given $1000 to live on for one month.  The game throws a number of difficult challenges at the player and asks them to choose from two, often equally unappealing options, for example, Do you hope your sick daughter gets better on her own or risk your job by leaving early to take her to the doctor?  Developers aim to raise a player’s’ awareness of how quickly changes in employment, housing, medical costs and other expenses can have disastrous consequences.

Rocket League for Xbox

I was encouraged to play this game “just for fun” by my fifteen-year-old son.  Rocket League is a physics-based multiplayer-focused soccer game played by high-flying vehicles.  Sound ridiculous? It is – it is but also ridiculously fun!  As a novice gamer, I found it quite difficult to get the hang of steering and scoring goals but it was addictive and I couldn’t stop laughing (and maybe swearing a little) the whole time I was playing.  While the motivation to keep playing is a strength due to the design feature of challenge and mastery, I would have to use my imagine to see how this game would meet learning the goals of any traditional curriculums.

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Trivia Crack

Like Rocket League, I tried Trivia Crack just for fun.  When I was having a look at what games are popular, this one kept coming up in reviews.  It is really a basic trivia game modelled on Trivial Pursuit that allows a player to play against known and unknown opponents to obtain six characters.  Trivia Crack receives a positive rating from Common Sense Media who state that “answering trivia questions, on the whole, can be a fun way to test yourself and maybe learn something too, but when you make it competitive, it raises the stakes and makes it a lot more fun”.

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 et.al, 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.

References

Anderson. P. (2012, April 24). Classroom game design: Paul Anderson at TEDxBozeman. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnEN2Sm4IIQ

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.

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”;

and

“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:

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

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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.

References

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt-e7Nwj3Bk

Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Literature in Digital Environments [INF533 Module 6.1]. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-510015-dt-content-rid-1113506_1/courses/S-INF533_201560_…

Fora.TV. (2009, September 23). Once Upon These Times: New Stories for New Audiences [Video file]. Retrieved from http://fora.tv/2009/09/23/Once_Upon_These_Times_New_Stories_for_New_Audiences

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ 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 http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2014/05/the-fault-in-our-stars-author-john-green/361732/

 

 

Context for Digital Story Telling Project

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Introduction

Teachers in the digital age are becoming increasingly aware that technology is having an effect on the traditional definitions of reading, learning and literacy and this necessitates changes in reading literacy pedagogy (Felvegi & Matthew, 2012, p.41). New technologies, however, do not reduce the value of literature studies in the new millennium and the need to spend time reading and discussing stories remains important for freedom of thought, cultural continuity, and engaging imaginations (Robinson, 2001, pp.1-8). The fact is, new realities are expanding the meaning of reading a book and have come to include electronic literature (eLiterature) as works with important literary aspects (Rettberg, 2012, para.4). The emergence of eLiterature provides an opportunity for teachers to combine digital literacy and literature studies in the classroom. This digital storytelling proposal explores one way that this may be done in a secondary school setting.

The school context

The school context for this proposal is a Catholic secondary independent girls’ school that caters for approximately eight hundred and ninety (890) students ranging from years seven to twelve (7-12). Because of the school’s inclusive enrolment policy, these students are made-up of a diverse range of learning styles and needs. In terms of technology integration, the school has a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) model and supports a philosophy of digital participation, acknowledging the need for digital learning environments in order to adequately prepare students for life and work outside of school. The role of the school library (also known as the iCentre) is to support the school in the delivery of library and information services. Supporting literacy development is one such service provided by the iCentre. In line with the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (2014), the iCentre works collaboratively with teaching teams “to plan and implement information literacy and literature programs that result in positive student learning outcomes” (standard 2.2).

Proposal topic

In year seven, eight and nine at the school in which I teach, an integrated curriculum approach is taken and Core Studies is a class that incorporates the English, History, Geography and Religion curriculums.

This proposal is designed for year 8 Core Studies. In this subject, students undertake a literature unit called “Book Club”. This unit has traditionally required students to read five novels and complete a creative response task to each. After consultation with the team leader of Core Studies, it is proposed that one of the reading choices for this unit be a piece of eLiterature and one of the creative response choices be a digital story. As the Teacher-Librarian, I will provide a reading list of eLiterature options available through the iCentre that students can choose from. I will also create a digital story as an example for students. This digital story will be in the form of a fan fiction response to The fault in our stars by John Green and will consist of Instagram posts from Hazel Grace Lancaster, the protagonist of this story and a connected website containing author notes. It is a conscious decision to make the reader aware that the Instagram posts are a fan fiction response because fandom is a theme presented in the novel and because John Green himself has commented on fanfiction, social media and the relationship that exists between an author and reader.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used

After surveying the Year 8 students, I have chosen to use Instagram as the platform for my digital story as this seems the most popular choice of social media in our school context. This Instagram account will be supported by an ‘Author notes’ website that includes a forum page for interactivity. The purpose of this website is to experiment with creating a story, like those described by Alexander (2011, p.228) that requires a reader to negotiate across multiple platforms such as hyperlinking, media embedding and browser tabs. I have also chosen to make my story a spin-off from The fault in our stars by John Green as most students in this year level have read the story or seen the film and will have prior knowledge or familiarity with the character of Hazel Grace Lancaster. This project would fit within the Literature strand of the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013) and provide opportunities for students to:

  • respond to literature
  • experience eLiterature
  • develop storytelling skills
  • create in a digital environment
  • experience fan fiction
  • build digital literacies

References

Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations, Chapter 1. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. ABC-CLIO.Retrieved from http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=678297

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). Overview: Literature. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/content-structure/literature

Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt-e7Nwj3Bk

Felvégi, E., & Matthew, K. I. (2012). eBooks and Literacy in K–12 Schools. Computers In The Schools29(1/2), 40-52. doi:10.1080/07380569.2012.651421

Rettberg, J.W. (2012). Electronic literature seen from a distance: the beginnings of a field. Retrieved from http://www.dichtung-digital.de/journal/archiv/?postID=278

Robinson, M. (2001). Standing on the faultline: The value of literature in the new millennium. In Books up front: Investigating the value of literature [ed. S. La Marca] (pp. 1-10). Carlton, Victoria: School Library Association of Victoria.

 

Considering copyright for digital environments

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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.

References

Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Literature in Digital Environments [INF533 Module 6.1]. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-510015-dt-content-rid-1113506_1/courses/S-INF533_201560_…

Levine, R. (Director). (2013, January 31). Rovert Levine on copyright, content and the digital economy [Video file]. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYiSWMnUSJQ

United Nations. (2015). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Image Attribution 

Geralt, Email Keyboard Computer Copyright Author, CC0 Public Domain

 

 

Digital storytelling – distinguishing features

digitalstorytelling

An important question for those interested in literature is: Has storytelling changed since the birth of electronic media? To answer this question, it is important to define what we mean by story and digital storytelling. When considering the definition of story, Alexander deduces that “for a given audience, a story is a sequence of content, anchored on a problem, which engages that audience with emotion and meaning” (2011, p.13). He also maintains that digital storytelling is simply telling stories with digital technologies (2011, p.3). Yet, after exploring a range of digital storytelling, I wonder about the simplicity of his definitions and have questions about the impact of digital technologies on the nature of story. These questions include:

Is the digital construction and delivery of the story the only thing that distinguishes digital storytelling from other forms of storytelling?

How does storytelling in a digital environment impact the production and consumption of stories?

How does storytelling in a digital environment impact the relationship between author and reader/audience?

How does storytelling in a digital environment impact the structure of a story?

When seeking answers to these questions, a number of interesting points are noteworthy:

  • “creating stories in a world of ubiquitous computing may no longer rely on the Romantic model of a single creator” (Alexander, 2011, p.227).
  • An example of multiple authors is a Twitter story featuring multiple characters, each with a separate author (Alexander, 2011, p.228).
  • It is possible to tell a digital story across multiple platforms, moving through hyperlinking, media embedding, browser tabs etc. (Alexander, 2011, p.228).
  • Interactive fiction requires repeated textual input in order for the text to progress (Ciccoricco, 2012, p.475).
  • The ability of digital fiction to combine multiple modes of text, image, sound and video into one surface create “mixed media” art and this “necessitates an enlargement of what we think of as literary and indeed, our conception of literacy itself” (Ciccoricco, 2012, p.476).
  • In digital story telling, an author can have a real time relationship with an audience and construct a character and then let the audience be part of the journey where that character goes (Fora, 2009, 24min10sec).
  • Digital storytelling can empower fan communities and allow fans to move the story from something that is passive to something an audience can interact with, shape and run with on their own (For a, 2009, 25min01sec).
  • We are starting to build new structures on the internet and these are the new formats of storytelling (Fitzgerald, 2013, 2min19sec).
  • Digital story telling offers a quick feedback system that has no mediator between the author and the audience – the author connects with the audience directly (Fitzgerald, 2013, 3min15sec).
  • In traditional stories, the reader controls how fast they move through a text but in some digital storytelling, for example Twitter stories, if the audience is experiencing the story live, they have no control over when it is broadcast and this can create suspense (Fitzgerald, 2013, 5min05sec).
  • Digital storytelling can engage with the real world (Fitzgerald, 2013, 7min45sec).
  • A digital story may not have a narrative conclusion (Fitzgerald, 2013, 8min50sec).
  • The lines between fact and fiction can become blurred in digital stories (Fitzgerald, 2013, 11min18sec0).

References

Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations, Chapter 1. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. ABC-CLIO.Retrieved from http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=678297

Ciccoricco, D. (2012). Digital fiction: networked narratives (Ch. 34). In J. Bray, A. Gibbons, & B. McHale (Ed.), The Routledge companion to experimental literature (pp. 469-482). London: Routledge.

Fitzgerald, A. (Director). (2013, July). Adventures in Twitter fiction [Video file]. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_fitzgerald_adventures_in_twitter_fiction

Fora.TV. (2009, September 23). Once Upon These Times: New Stories for New Audiences [Video file]. Retrieved from http://fora.tv/2009/09/23/Once_Upon_These_Times_New_Stories_for_New_Audiences

 

 

 

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