screenshot home screen

Inspired by the refugee immersion camp that my Year 9 students will undertake, my digital story relates to refugees and may inspire multidisciplinary curriculum opportunities.

In an Australian city environment; where privilege, freedom and safety are assumed, ‘first world problems‘ tend to be the main problems my students experience. The immersion will be a confronting experience, designed to impact students at an age where they often focus primarily on self. It aims to generate empathy and opportunities for personal growth. Students will focus on refugee content through their English, Religious Education and Humanities curriculum this term. We will use Things That Matter on return from our immersion, giving students choice to respond creatively.

Although fictional and structured as a childrens’ story, Things That Matter is designed to inspire and inform. The concepts are grave and prior knowledge to interpret the context may be helpful; for these reasons it may be best suited to upper primary to middle-school students, rather than a younger audience. Although a younger child is represented, students could interpret the storyline as it unfolds and empathetically consider the parallel situation of children in war-torn environments.

For a digital story to have value that supersedes a printed counterpart, it should offer additional elements, dynamism or interactivity (Mod, 2015). It must take advantage of the capabilities provided by technology (Rettberg 2012) and should evolve into something beyond the experience of reading printed text (Jabr, 2013). My story’s visual transitions, blending two settings may provide a more visually immersive experience. The audio adds another sensory dimension to add emphasis and personification. I did not initially intend to produce a linear story and ideally would have added further interactive elements (as recommended by Barack, 2012); however my skills and time constraints limited my exploration of non-linear, interactive components. Alternately, I set the linear story into a website to include supporting pages. Inspiration provides acknowledgement and background, and further resource recommendations. Process outlines the video production, providing a scaffold to inspire users for creating their own content. Curriculum Links includes reference to Australian Curriculum content descriptions and invites comments from users regarding ideas for use of the resource, which may encourage interactivity between educators to consider ideas.

screenshot for part C_5screenshot processscreenshot curriculum

My previous study for INF530 led me to examine optimal settings for creative learning (see my digital essay here); I learnt that the overlap of content areas can be the spark for creativity. This has been the case for me in my own story development, where the intersection of needs and ideas combined to elicit a creative response.  Considering this perspective, my recommendations for the use of my digital story could involve hybrid curriculum experiences or at least, simultaneous curriculum content across disciplines to provide holistic, meaningful connections between factors related to the global refugee crisis.

In a breakdown of curriculum areas, as outlined in Curriculum Links, the content relates to the Arts, English, Humanities and in some contexts, Religious Education. There is scope to explore text types, literacy and conventions (Darnton, 2009), as well as create a response in English; study the social, political, psychological and cultural contexts and complexities through Humanities and Social Sciences; analyse artistic value and create content inspired by the resource through the Arts and investigate the teachings of religion and relevant Church leaders in schools that study Religion. Many schools also include service learning programs (volunteering etc.) and the resource could be used as stimulation for a program in support of refugees.

Things That Matter, particularly if used in combination with other recommended content, could allow opportunities for the development of a range of literacy skills, encompassed as multimodal literacy (Walsh, 2010). It combines image, text and audio to interact with multiple senses (Lamb, 2011), allowing critical thought about both process and content (Malita and Martin, 2010). The resource could be used to demonstrate the “iPed model” described by Mills (2011), where the “link, challenge, cocreate, share” (2011) sequence could be investigated prior to students creating their own content using the same scaffold. This transition from critical analysis to production may encourage the development of a range of skills in a rigourous learning process (Dockter, Haug & Lewis, 2010). Considering “phase space” (Unsworth, 2006, p.29) creative activities is a viable option; asking ‘what if …’ questions regarding the intervals between the sequences, or before and after possibilities could provide scope for phase space work.

A range of digital tools were used in the production of the resource. Whilst some of the software would require training, the process may provide ideas for students’ own digital content creation, focusing not on the tools, but on the skills of meaningful narrative communication (Rosenthal Tolisano, 2015). Perhaps an ideal use of Things That Matter could be as inspiration for a collaborative project where elements of a digital resource are created and collated across curriculum boundaries.

This array of possibilities allows scope for choice, based on school determined needs or focus areas as well as the opportunity to structure options that will suit different learning styles and strengths (Kingsley, 2007).

References