Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

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


Reflection: Digital citizenship in schools

The evolving context of digital landscapes and how these impact life and learning, is something I am keenly interested in. My interest in this topic is both professional, through my role as a Teacher Librarian, and personal, in my role as a parent of teenagers. The subject ETL523: Digital citizenship in schools has provided an opportunity to explore how we can adequately prepare young people for life and work in 21st century futures. In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote:

“The Students I work with live digital lifestyles. They attend a BYOT school that requires them to own a laptop. Additionally, the majority of them also own personal mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Some of them also have wearable computers such as smart watches and fitbits. They use social media and belong to online communities. They are often texting, downloading, updating and searching and they are always looking for Wi-Fi and chargers. Come to think of it, this same lifestyle is lived by their teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches and employers. It’s just the way life is for many in modern society”.

It was at this very early point in the course that I came to appreciate that due to the ubiquity of technology, life in 21st century Australia is digital and as such digital citizenship and citizenship should not be considered different entities. Furthermore, citizenship is fundamentally about participation in society and issues of access, rights, responsibilities and contributions to the collective are as important in our digital interactions as they are in our civil communities. The readings throughout the modules have broadened my thinking about digital citizenship in education and highlighted three interconnected issues that I would like to address in this reflection. These include: the digital divide; learning in a connected world; and the importance of teacher role models.

The digital divide

Throughout the modules in this course, we were challenged to consider questions such as:

  • Why is it important to establish digital learning environments in schools?;
  • Why should we teach digital citizenship?; and
  • Why must educators accept the professional responsibility to lead and support digital citizenship development?

One of the most compelling answers to all three of these questions is because digital and media literacies of participatory cultures are necessary in the 21st century for “social inclusion, business development, service delivery, creative expression, innovation, collaboration and employment” (O’Leary, 2012,Para.19). Essentially, this creates a digital divide that is not about access to technology but about access to the opportunities, experiences and skills required for participatory cultures. Individuals who find they lack such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace (Jenkins, 2006, p.3; Crocket, Jukes and Churches, 2011, p.14; O’Leary, 2012; and Seely Brown, 2012, p.15).

Learning in a connected world

One of the opportunities afforded in this course was to participate in a collaborative wiki project. The realities of digital citizenship and learning in connected environments were experienced in this project and as a member of a group working towards a common goal; it was imperative that I put into practice digital communication, the ethical and legal use of others’ intellectual and creative property, technical awareness and digital literacy, social awareness and interpersonal skills, and responsible and reliable contributions for shared academic outcomes. Such practices are among those outlined in Ribble’s Nine elements of digital citizenship (2011) and Enlightened digital citizenship model produced by Lindsay & Davis (2013). A conclusion drawn from this experience is that digital citizenship education requires two key components – understanding the competencies necessary for participation in digital environments and understanding learning in a connected world.

Teacher as role model

The course work for Digital citizenship in schools has also informed my professional practice in regards to my own online participation. One of the key questions considered in another blog post response to the course work, is how do we teach digital citizenship? A starting point is for teachers to practice what they need to teach. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) considers it paramount for teachers to possess the skills and behaviours necessary for participation in the digital age and to model these for students (2008). Clark (in Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p.38), Ribble (2011, loc.1901) and Lindsay & Davis (2013, p.98) are also among those advocating the necessity for teachers to lead by example in the arena of digital citizenship. To “practice what I teach”, I ensured that I shared information in social media environments such as Diigo and Twitter and experimented with new tools and published original creative content in order to go beyond consuming information. To this end, I created an infographic of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, an embedded Google slideshow of titled Teaching digital citizenship = leading by example; and produced a two-part video guide introducing teachers to the basics of building a PLN for my digital artefact in the collaborative wiki task.

As the subject draws to a close, the challenges and opportunities afforded have been many and have already started to impact my working life. My goal is to transfer these understandings to library and classroom practice to prepare students for futures in connected and participatory environments.


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

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4), 37-48. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE Standards. Retrieved May 14, 2015, from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time (pp. 97-125). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved May 15, 2015, from

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). Learning in and for the 21st Century. Lecture presented at CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No.4 in Singapore, Singapore. Retrieved May 23, 2015, from

Assessment Blog #3


Design Brief

The Problem: A morning robbed of joy

Located in suburban Brisbane, the Stower house is an average, middle class dwelling housing a family of four. Although the busy family are well organised and the morning begins with energy and enthusiasm, things seem to go wrong during the forty-five minutes from 6:45 to 7:30 am.  With Dad already departed for work, it is in this time that panic ensues, as unplanned extras are added to the morning routine and Mum becomes flustered trying to fit these into the tight schedule.  Consequently Mum often arrives at work late and exhausted.  Basically, the opportunity to spend time together in the morning is robbed of joy and becomes a stress filled experience.  Mum and kids would be better placed to start their day if the mornings were instead a time to congregate, eat breakfast, talk and enjoy each other’s company before facing the world.

Design Brief:

Dear Architect, Please design a solution to our morning activities that takes the stress out.  It needs to be a place that provides breakfast, but it should also be better than that. Why can’t it be a coffee house that ‘talks about the news’, is invigorating, engaging, stimulating, family-orientated.  Why does Mum have to solve all the problems? It needs to be a diplomatic process that the whole family is involved in.

The Challenge:  

Provide strategies to help Mum and the kids manage the unplanned extras in the morning in order to create a positive start to the day. This should include designing a space that provides breakfast and fosters joy, fellowship and diplomacy.

The Constraints:

  • The time cannot be expanded as it would infringe upon exercise and other household chores at one end of the morning and the start of the work/school day at the other end;

  • The activities can only happen within the home;

  • The space must be used for other family activities.


  • There are three people involved in these mornings;

  • It is a family relationship which cannot be compromised; and

  • One of the children is very anxious and unplanned extras cause a lot of stress for her.

Next Steps (Ideation):

Identify objects or conditions in the environment which may be recognised as concepts to be included or excluded to create something new (Hatchel & Weil), by undertaking the following processes:

  • Review Mum’s observations of the morning routine;

  • Interview the children to better understand their needs, their perception of the morning experience, and their desires for the morning routine;

  • Mum to brainstorm what the “perfect morning” might look like, feel like, sound like, taste like & smell like.  The purpose of this is to broaden the possibilities for a desirable outcome;

  • Research how other individuals and families manage their mornings;

  • Research how spaces can alleviate stress and foster talk and companionship;

  • Seek input from others about how a space might foster joy and fellowship in order to garner new perspectives and ideas; and

  • Develop ideas based on feedback and hold discussions between Mum and the kids to get their feedback on concepts and where possible, prototype/trial these ideas.


Dear architect,

“I chose to enhance this experience with a simple design element” (John Hockenberry), please help me.  Kind regards, Helen/Mum


Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Hockenberry, J. (2012, June 12). John Hockenberry: We are all designers. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from

Third Grade Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Cafe. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Assessment Blog #2 – A Letter to Ewan

Dear Ewan,

Do you know what you have put me through with this task?

You ask me to choose a morning routine. Well, I don’t know what mornings are like in Scotland but here in Brisbane, Australia nothing as glamorous as an airport, or a coffee house feature in my morning routine. Then you ask me to remain objective throughout the observation – pretty hard in my case because  mornings also involve my head exploding! THEN, if that’s not bad enough, you ask me to draw the whole thing!?!?

SURE, the routine that does exist is up for improvement, so I guess I will get that part of the task correct. Every day my plan is to be out the door at 7:15 to arrive at work at 7:30. Despite, many efforts, this almost never happens.  I don’t need to exercise empathy to know what the situation is like from my children’s perspective as they are most willing to tell me. Put simply, they are bewildered that I get flustered and find it difficult to understand why I can’t just calm down.

My observations are that the mornings are quite beautiful, the light is soft, the temperature is mild, the air is full of bird song and the house is filled with the smell of coffee and toast. Emotionally, the children are generally happy and just cruise along getting ready for school. The complaints are mostly mine and it is my temperature and volume that rise as all the unexpected extras of the morning start to make me panic.

I really have no idea if I have adequately responded to this task but here are the sketches of my morning routine. Kind regards, Helen

Applying the Learning: Reflections of #INF530


As a Teacher-Librarian, the information landscape and the impact of technology on learners and learning, has been a key focus of my practice. In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote:

“the concepts and practices for a digital age of particular interest to me are:

·       for professional growth,

·      to better understand and prepare students for work, study and life, &

·       to mentor and support colleagues”.

The course work for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age has provided many opportunities in these areas, and significantly broadened my thinking about future directions at our school.  For the purposes of this reflection, I would like to address each of these points.

Professional growth has certainly been an outcome of completing The Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age.  The environments we were encouraged to participate in, the resources and readings provided, and the assessment items all extended my knowledge, and have began to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian.  In particular, the reflective blogging has been a fruitful process for me.  I found this kept me on track with the work load of the coarse, and encouraged me to think deeply about topics.  Connecting to the blogs of other students provided insights and feedback that have informed and resonated with my own practice.  Another conversation that has stayed with me was during a Google hangout when a discussion led to the importance of creativity in the classroom.  This together, with reflections on the learning throughout the course, and the process of completing a digital essay, remind me that creativity really is the key to innovation and absolutely essential in educating students for success in the digital age.

One of the opportunities afforded through the course was to write an academic book review. The book from the list of choices available for review and criticism that gained my attention was The app Generation:  How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis. The book was a great read and together with the research undertaken to critically review it, provided new insights into how the technologies of the digital age are shaping the young people we work with.  In particular, a heightened sense of individualism, increased aversion to take risks and the need for constant endorsement are key concerns raised by Gardner and Davis (2013).  The idea that there is an increased aversion to taking risks among young people resonates with my experiences of working with students, and concerns of this nature have been raised in my educational setting in both formal meetings, and during informal conversations.  Because collaboration has been encouraged and even required in INF530, I was able to extend this conversation beyond the school walls and engage with wide ranging points of view through blogging.  I posted a blog entry titled, Narcissistic Teens & Helicopter Parents, and the comments and feedback received have contributed to the professional reflections of the teaching team I work with.  As digital citizenship is one of the key priorities of a subject we teach called Research and Technology, we are now thinking about how we can challenge our students to move beyond a position of dependence, requiring constant reinforcement, validation and aversion to risk.  We hope to assist them to move to a position of independence that is characterised by a ‘have a go’ attitude and resilience.

The course work for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age has also informed my professional practice.  As a teacher-librarian and curriculum leader, one of the responsibilities in my role description is, “planning, teaching and evaluating collaboratively with teachers to ensure the effective integration of information resources and technologies into student learning” (Staff Handbook, 2014).  Professional conversations with mentors are required of all staff at our college as part of our ongoing professional learning.  During a recent professional conversation with my mentor, a deputy principal at the college, we identified staff induction programs as requiring more specific input in the area of digital literacies.  After showing him some of the key concepts from INF530 and the final assessment task, I decided to focus my digital essay on researching for this purpose.  Consequently, my essay aims to answer the question: What concepts and practices should high-school teachers embed in their curriculums to foster connected learning in the information environments of the digital age?  Another example of how this subject is informing my professional practice was that after reading Module 3.2, Information Fluencies, I decided to conduct a survey into the use of the college’s information services website to gain feedback about its effectiveness in connecting learners to the skills, tools and information necessary for success in the digital age.  It was identified through this survey that professional development is necessary among existing staff in digital literacies and digital citizenship and we need to work towards tessellation of how staff, students and the website interact. The research for my digital essay will be initially shared with Curriculum Leaders at our college with the aim of developing opportunities for professional learning so that digital literacies are embedded into our curriculums and pedagogies.

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 classroom practice to prepare students for futures in connected and participatory environments.

 Image Attribution

Learning To Read At School,Woodcut 1870. [Photo]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.


Day 2

Day 2 of Concepts and Practices in a Digital Age consisted of a Tweetchat with other members of the course, checking out the blogs shared by other students, starting the Introduction Module and choosing a book to investigate from the booklist.


This was the first time I have participated in a Tweetchat.  I could see many applications for the classroom and will certainly consider this in future lessons.  Judy O’Connell also suggested investigating Neat Chat as a tool to use with students as this has the facility to keep a record of a discussion which Tweetchat does not have.

The Introduction to INF530 Module involved viewing a TED talk by Douglas Thomas which asks the question:  How can learning in the classroom mirror what real learning looks like?. The key point I took from this talk is that PLAY is fundamental & a concept that combines passion, imagination & constraint – putting rules in place fires the imagination.

Finally, having investigated the booklist for the subject.  The book that has first gained my attention is called The app Generation:  How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis. I think it is safe to say that we have all realized the shortcomings of a previous well-known label, ‘digital natives’, and so it is with much interest that I read this new representation – “The App Generation” and explore the conclusions of these authors.  The fact that the authors base their findings on five years of work by their research team at Harvard certainly adds authority to their characterization of young people.


Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. TED. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from

Image:  mkhmarketing, Twitter Expert, CC x 2.0

Getting Started


Well it’s official, back to Uni!  The first job on the list is to set up this reflective journaling space and post a link to the group forum.

I guess a good place to start is to list my learning goals for this subject. These are:

  1. To participate in a connected learning environment;
  2. To continue my professional learning;
  3. To broaden my classroom practices in digital environments; &
  4. To PASS!