July 24, 2015

Thinking about literature in digital environments

think by Joshua Earle

Image by Joshua Earle from https://unsplash.com/

I, like Gideon Burton am “…wrestling with the powerful disruptions to reading and writing now in play.” I am hoping that INF533 Literature in Digital Environments will help me to become better informed about opportunities to use digital literature in my workspace to create innovative and engaging experiences with texts and other media, and also to help me to think about different ways of incorporating print literature in our digital world.

I usually associate the word literature with fiction, often relating the term to well written fiction only. Already I am questioning my understanding of literature – am I thinking too narrowly? Can all texts fall under the literature umbrella? Is all information literature? And can we classify digital mediums other than text (such as audio, graphics and video) as digital literature?

My current understanding of other terms associated with literature – reading, book, literacy – are also being tested by what I have read so far, challenging me to rethink my ideas around these concepts.

Continue reading

May 2, 2014


Information FLUENCY is complex: A visualization of Internet routing paths

image from en.wikipedia.com


While information is a knowledge-generating tool, it is not knowledge itself.  Manuel Castells in UNESCO publication “Towards knowledge societies”

We need to give our students OPPORTUNITIES to find, filter, focus and formulate questions, so that they can become GREAT researchers.  Working in a primary school, I find that we often take this opportunity away from younger kids, giving them links to follow to get to “good” websites that we have found for them to use, so that they don’t spend too much TIME searching for rather than recording information.  We are actually taking away their opportunity to develop and practise using their critical judgement of what constitutes a “good” website.  A better model would be the one our Yr 6s used in term 1: Our Yr 6s have been using Edmodo for past few years – term 1 saw lots of sharing of resources they found to support their learning about Antarctica.  The children and class teachers posted links they had discovered,  and classmates replied to their suggestions, so that the library of digital resources that were accessed as part of their learning, was jointly constructed and owned by all of them – a lovely example of connected learning. Continue reading
March 21, 2014

Blog Task #2 Connected Learning & Digital Literacy

It is a confronting thought to recognise that classrooms of today look and feel very much the same as they have for decades, whereas how we live, work and play has changed dramatically.  Has education become “stagnant” (Garcia, 2014, p.6)?  How relevant are current educational practises in preparing students for their future?  This is the context in which we consider the issues around connected learning and digital literacy.
retrieved from http://redefineschool.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/connected-learning-graphic.png?w=590&h=532

retrieved from http://redefineschool.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/connected-learning-graphic.png?w=590&h=532

CONNECTED LEARNING is best summed up in the graphic above, but in summary it essentially is a model of learning that fuses a young person’s interests, friendships and academic achievement through hands-on, interest based learning experiences, supported by encouraging adults, and enhanced by technology.  The graphic above is messy and busy and interwoven – as connected learning should be.

DIGITAL LITERACY, as defined by Paul Gilster (1997, in Bawden, 2008, p.6), is NOT defined by a list of skills or competencies, but is rather “…an ability to understand and to use information from a variety of digital sources…”   It is more about having the right “mindset” about the use and potential of digital resources, rather than the right set of skills needed to be digitally literate.   While digital literacy is built on traditional literacy skills, it goes further to encompass an understanding of and a fluency in a variety of technological tools and systems.  Crocket, Jukes and Churches (2011) maintain that being literate is not enough – we need to aim for FLUENCY in the 21st century.  They argue that being literate means being able to communicate, but still having to consciously think about the processes needed to communicate; whereas fluency is when these processes become internalised and so automatic that we no longer need to be aware of them, so then THINKING can become the focus (rather than the reading, writing or talking etc).  To them, digital literacy is about five different fluencies – solution fluency, creativity fluency, information fluency, media fluency and collaboration fluency.  Whereas Gilster did allude to a set of skills and areas to be aware of in order to be digitally literate, Crocket et al. dedicate much of their book to a number of suggested teaching programs to help develop the various fluencies in students.  So I think it is fair to suggest that digital literacy is two-fold:  it assumes a particular mindset, AND competency with a range of skills that allow you to consume and produce digital content.  It is VITAL that our students are digitally literate in this age of INFOWHELM (Crocket et al., p.3) where everything either IS or CAN BECOME digitised.

The Connected Learning model draws on the “power of today’s technology” to “re-imagine the experience of education in the information age” (from graphic above), thus creating a learning environment where digital literacy can blossom.   Digital literacy competencies are implied both explicitly and implicitly throughout the model:


  • Possibilities made available by social media allow students to learn in a socially meaningful and knowledge rich ecology of participation
  • Online platforms link learning in school, home and community
  • Social media and web based platforms allow for cross-generational learning & community


  • Learning is most effective when it is reinforced and practised in multiple settings (both real and virtual)


  • Learning is most effective when it is ACTIVE – producing, creating, experimenting, designing
retrieved from http://nbaxter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/cone_of_learning.png

retrieved from http://nbaxter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/cone_of_learning.png

My challenge?  I recognise elements of Connected Learning principles in my teaching practise, and also how these are developing digital literacy in my students – I am a strong believer in learning being ACTIVE and INTEREST BASED.  I am a strong believer in explicitly measuring ACADEMIC GROWTH (in terms of knowledge AND skills AND attitudes) both formatively and summatively throughout my teaching program, and ensuring children and teaching colleagues PARTICIPATE in this measurement process.  We learn in a technology-rich environment and have so for the past few years, so the focus can now be on the use of technology as a LEARNING TOOL, rather than focusing on the technology.  My weak link is PEER CULTURE, so I would like to incorporate more of the PEER CULTURE elements into my teaching practise to build that sense of Learning COMMUNITY, using online platforms and social media to support this.



Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

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 ; Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin, c2011

Garcia, Antero, ed., 2014. Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom.  Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub



March 21, 2014

1.6 Digital Literacy

I am a fan of Stoerger’s “Digital Melting Pot” – “a place where all individuals, including those with low levels of competency, experience technology in a way that fosters opportunities without barriers”; and I agree that talk of digital immigrants and digital natives presents an oversimplified dichotomy that is not helpful.  DaCosta et. al.’s research supports Stoerger’s stance that a person’s age does not determine their digital literacy competency, but rather proficient use of information & communication technology is more a question of access and attitude, rather than a generational trait. I too concede that “digital natives” have had a very different experience of life than digital immigrants in that they don’t know life without technologies and rapid change.  That is just how life is to them. But isn’t that true of every new generation – our life has always been different to the life that our parents/grandparents lead.  Maybe change is just faster now than it has been in the past. Assuming that young people are tech savvy just because they are familiar and comfortable with technology is both foolish and dangerous.  We CANNOT assume that just because children can “google” means that they can find and critique information; nor can we assume that they have the necessary life skills and experience to communicate safely in online communities.  Digital immigrants may be more “savvy” in these departments;  whilst digital natives MAY be more “tech savvy”.  A digital melting pot enables this expertise to be shared.

It is important for ALL of us to have a DIGITAL LITERACY mindset –
“…acquiring and USING things found on networked mediums, (and a) …willingness to adapt our new skills to… evocative medium(s)”(Gilster, 1997, in Brawn, 2008)

– rather than thinking of digital literacy in terms of a set of skills to be mastered, so that ALL of us can become what Helen Haste describes as TOOL USERS who are dependent on society AND other tool users, and who in turn INFLUENCE society and other tools users.  We are all part of the same MELTING POT.

I was reminded of Hattie’s research on the powerful effect that TEACHERS have on student learning as I was reading through the materials for this module.  Soloway (2010) in Downes & Bishop pointed out the danger of disregarding teacher attitude and competence when implementing ICT in classrooms, and Stoerger refers to students saying it is the TEACHERS who make the most difference to their academic success, rather than the technologies available at school.

GOOD 21st century teachers need to be TOOL USERS with a DIGITAL LITERACY MINDSET who see themselves and their students as equal participants in the DIGITAL MELTING POT.