A Visit to the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum
Part A: Context for Digital Storytelling Project
A Visit to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is a blog on the free Tackk site. It contains an original video and story with enlarged text and colourful images. The podcast of the story is in English and Korean. A link to Google Translate allows the story to be translated into Korean or other language. There are over 80 languages to choose from. The project runs from 3 – 5 minutes and is suitable for 3 – 5 year olds.
The intended purpose is to introduce young children to a fossil and mineral museum, provide access to digital technology and to develop literacy skills. The blog meets the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) in the following area: Outcome 5 – children are effective communicators (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009, pp. 38 – 41).
- Children “develop confidence in using digital technology” (p. 38).
- Educators “value children’s linguistic heritage and with family and community members encourage the use of and acquisition of home languages and Standard Australian English” (p. 40).
- Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts (p. 41).
The digital storytelling project is flexible and may be utilised for a preschool or childcare group provided an interactive whiteboard is available. In the Northern Territory the preschool and sometimes childcare centre is in the school grounds and school library visits may be available. This would be an excellent time for the early childhood class to view the digital storytelling project on an interactive whiteboard if the classroom does not have one. Alternatively, a small group, including children in a family day care setting, may view the blog on a computer, laptop or tablet (2-3 children per device).
The supervising adult can encourage preschoolers’ memory and language development by playing the video then asking open-ended questions such as What did the family see? Prior to reading the story, the adult can show the images and ask open-ended questions such as What can you see in the picture?
Developing children’s visual literacy skills assists them to formulate and express ideas. Listening to the story “supports semantic language processing” and develops the imagination (Oliver, 2015); and allowing children to ask questions when reading to them aids brain development (Walker, 2014).
The blog is compatible with a variety of devices and may also be viewed at home to reinforce new concepts. Here, the digital story becomes a collaborative activity both at home and in the early childhood setting, connecting both worlds (Kingsley, 2007, pp. 54, 55).
Eye-hand co-ordination and fine motor skills are developed by allowing preschoolers to scroll, playback video and audio, and zoom in/out on the interactive whiteboard or device. Large images assist visual recognition. To aid accessibility, the video and podcasts contain pause and playback buttons. To meet accessibility guidelines, hyperlinks are differentiated by colour and underlining, or via a button (WebAIM, 2013). The blog is screen-reader compatible as demonstrated below.
Unfortunately there are some issues with the screen-reader including the inability to insert alternative text for images (to aid the sight impaired) and the inability to left align the story’s sentences (only centre align is available, as large text is classified as Heading 1). Note: the video does not contain closed captions, as there is no narration.
Unlike traditional media, the Internet allows viewers to “participate directly with the narrative and have a role in how it unfolds, making for a highly dynamic and involving experience” (Miller, 2009, p. 42). Preschoolers are no exception and Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983, 2011) explains these different learning styles as highlighted in Blog Reflection Week 3. The digital storytelling project supports a variety of learning styles and language backgrounds, ensuring an inclusive experience.
Advanced learners are also supported; supplementary images are available via Flickr for those seeking further information. This is in agreement with Alchin’s views on extending learners in a digital environment (Alchin, 2015, presentation slide 33). Inspired by The Guardian’s Firestorm, the blog also utilises responsive web design, is non-linear, and contains a map.
Parts A, B and C of Assignment 4 are licenced under Creative Commons International Licence 4.0 (CC-BY-NC) and are DRM free. The video contains Creative Commons music by Jason Shaw of Audionautix and has been attributed at the end credits. An Appendix contains the storyboard, shot list, timeline and edit decision list (EDL).
Part B: Link to Digital Story
A Visit to the Museum by Lyn Oxley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Part C: Critical Reflection
I wholeheartedly agree with Lamb who writes how digital technology makes an impact on the way we read today (Lamb, 2011, p. 13). Being able to adjust the font size, the number of columns and having a screen-reader assists the sight-impaired and supports an inclusive learning environment.
Literacy constantly changes (Leu, Gregory McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo, Kennedy & Forzani) and the traditional definition of literacy no longer applies exclusively to reading and writing. The New Literacies (Fora TV), including visual literacy, information literacy and media literacy, demand educational storytellers produce high quality work to enable learners to practice these skills so they do not become digital illiterates.
New definitions for reading and books are sought; and found to some degree by Maureen Walsh (2013, p. 181) who describes the changing nature of text. My digital storytelling project meets her definition of a multimodal text as it contains video, audio, graphics and hyperlinks.
The project also supports a number of children’s learning styles as proposed by Gardner (1983, 2011) in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI). The relevance was posted in my Blog Reflection Week 3, as MI theory complements Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which was also discussed along with the Hechinger Report. In short, UDL provides a multimedia approach to accommodate a variety of learning styles. Uncovering this information impelled me to write a post in Module 1.3 (Oxley, 2015a) and an entry in the Diigo Knowledge Networks space about the benefits of supporting individual differences.
Prompted by Katherine Herbert’s positive response to my post, I set out to discover more about accommodating all learners’ needs in the digital environment. I found WebAIM’s accessibility infographic and embedded it into the Module 5.2 Discussion Forum (Oxley, 2015b) for others’ perusal. Several students responded encouragingly and this infographic became the basis for designing a rich, interactive experience for young children, educators, parents and caregivers.
In Blog Reflection Week 4, I mentioned Doiron’s definition of an e-book and noted that while some e-books are digitally born, others are published in a traditional way then digitised (Dorion, 2011, p. 2). My self-published e-book, Goosey, Goosey, Gander, reviewed in Assessment 2, meets the former explanation while Paper Magic, by Jeffery Doherty, is an example of the latter.
Also in Week 4, within the Module 1.3 Discussion Forum, Karen Malbon (2015) posted her concerns about the ease of school libraries acquiring print books compared to the same books in digital format. Doherty circumvented this problem by donating paperback editions of his book to a local school despite Paper Magic also being an e-book (See Blog Reflection Week 4).
Self-publishing Goosey, Goosey, Gander using Adobe’s InDesign layout, proved exciting because the mode, Publish Online, is Digital Rights Management (DRM) free and my work could be freely shared under a Creative Commons License 4.0. The benefits of using Publish Online were posted to Module 4.1. However, there are some drawbacks including only having Facebook and Twitter available for sharing and the inability to tag. Perhaps these concerns will be addressed when Publish Online shifts from beta mode. I decided to construct a Tackk blog for my digital storytelling project as it’s easy to use, supports many social media sites and allows tagging. Applying the INF533 hashtag ensures the story is visible in the class collection, maximising exposure.
In Module 2.3 I wrote, “In the near future, I expect e-books will be translated into a variety of languages with optional narration (Oxley, 2015c).” Little did I realise I had predicted my own digital storytelling outcome. After reading Tolisano’s blog regarding skills learned in digital storytelling, pre-schoolers have the opportunity to practise speaking, listening and communication skills. Visual, media and information literacies are also addressed, however not all of Tolisano’s advice could be implemented due to the short duration of the project and age of the children.
I agree with Katherine Herbert’s (2015) post for Module 7.1. Through first hand experience, I’ve also discovered digital storytelling isn’t only about adeptness with tools, it’s primarily for facilitating discussion, collaboration and meaning-making, not only for the audience, but also for the storyteller.
Collaborating with other students comes highly recommended in INF533 Literature in Digital Environments. I’ve enrolled in ETL402 Literature Across the Curriculum for Session 3 and feel well-prepared for the learning experience ahead.
Alchin, G. (September 9, 2015). Forget generation x, y, z … it’s generation personal! LXD, NSW Government, Education, Public Schools. Retrieved from http://www.rde.nsw.edu.au/lxd/2015/09/09/forget-generation-x-y-z-its-generation-personal/
Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Framework for Australia. Retrieved from https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2015/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf
Doiron, R. (2011). Using e-books and e-readers to promote reading in school libraries: lessons from the field. Paper presented at IFLA 2011, Puerto Rico. Retrieved from http://conference.ifla.org/past-wlic/2011/ifla77.htm
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Oxley, L. (2015b, September 9). Literature in Digital Environments: 5.2 Understanding digital media texts – Digital tools [Online discussion board comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_28855_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_7305_1&course_id=_6667_1&message_id=_247359_1#msg__247359_1Id
Oxley, L. (2015c, September 9). Literature in Digital Environments: 2.3 Getting practical – Challenges of using digital literature in the classroom [Online discussion board comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_28852_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_7305_1&course_id=_6667_1&message_id=_247355_1#msg__247355_1Id
Walker, R. (2014). Evidence Supporting Early Literacy and Early Learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from https://littoolkit.aap.org/evidence/Pages/home.aspx
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