As I reflect back on this subject there are so many things that I have discovered and learned about technology and storytelling that are exciting and innovative. There are vast modes of digital tools available to create digital stories. Furthermore, the different ways stories can be told is exponential. Reading is no longer just words on a page, it ranges from a beautiful array of physical books to interactive multimodal experiences, not to mention all the amazing options in between. As a future teacher librarian (TL), I want and need to be able to advocate for and influence teachers to embrace technology. This is something that can be achieved gradually if implemented systematically. Applying the knowledge developed throughout this subject has enabled me to guide teachers to embrace technology across the curriculum.
First and foremost as teachers and teacher librarians (TL) we must remember that digital storytelling is all about the story. The digital tools we use must help our students enhance the story and not distract from the essence. Storytelling is described by Conley (2012) as a powerful way of enabling students to delve into their ever present imaginations. The power of story is what should drive our focus when we think of digital storytelling with our students. In digital literature readers are engaged in reading in a different way (Walsh, 2013). These differences can be used to motivate and captivate students. Looking back at this first blog for this subject I realise how much I have learned. Reading is pervasive in every aspect of learning. The TL needs to use strategies to ensure each student is provided with opportunities to access peer level information. Texts enhanced with media and learning supports offer new possibilities to engage readers who struggle with printed text (Dalton, 2014). Creating the digital storytelling project provided many valuable opportunities such as learning how to use new tools that incorporated digital affordances such as text to speech, thus enhancing and adding to my skills and development as a TL.
There are challenges however, such as the technical knowledge and time it takes to learn how to use new digital tools. This can be eased by the TL providing professional development to teachers. Training can also be implemented alongside students. This video by November (2013) referred to in a previous blog post, shows how important this is. In an already overcrowded curriculum teachers are overwhelmed with workload. However, digital literature encompasses so many learning opportunities such as students being active participants rather than passive learners. Using digital literature alongside the pedagogy of inquiry learning is a logical partnership. In digital literature environments readers are required to seek out content, evaluate ideas across different formats, explore information in different contexts as well as interacting with other readers (Lamb, 2011). Using these skills is addressing many requirements within the Australian curriculum such as creative and critical thinking, listening to, reading, viewing and interpreting spoken, written and multimodal texts (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], (2014). Using technology and digital literature can assist teachers to implement the curriculum in a connected meaningful way that will not only enhance student learning but also create opportunities for teachers to merge key learning areas thus alleviating the workload by working smarter not harder.
Copyright for teachers and the TL is a ongoing issue that needs to be consistently addressed and according to (Australian Government, Australian Law Reform Commission (2012) this is a complex issue. Copyright gets a bad rap contends Levine (2013), he explains that yes of course there are issues with it such as it being too long. However he explains that copyright also does things well such as covering expressive rights, and for creators having rights to some kind of market. These are important factors that need to be taken into consideration when teaching students why all works need to be attributed when creating digital stories and other innovative usage of technology. ACARA, 2014 expresses this in the ICT capability as students understanding and ensuring appropriate acknowledgment of intellectual property.
This subject has been hugely influential in that it has furthered my knowledge of the range and categories within digital literature e.g. transmedia storytelling. It has led me to feeling so much more confident in my abilities to assist teachers to implement digital literature across the curriculum. During assessment two while examining, critiquing and reviewing different digital stories I learned that my reviewing skills need further development. This is helpful in many ways, as a TL I will need to be able to critically evaluate books to incorporate into the school library. Before embarking on this course I began writing a children’s book, consequently, further developing my reviewing skills will be important if I pursue this avenue. The evaluation of digital tools and eventual creation of an interactive digital storytelling project has ensured I have learned to use and assess the value of many digital tools and skillsets encompassed within digital literature. I look forward with great anticipation to implementing the many skills I have learned throughout this subject.
Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. (2014). English. Retrieved from
“There’s no wrong way to do this writing thing” (Conley, 2012). Conley reminds us of the power of stories. The Secrets of Quando is a digital storytelling project designed to engage struggling readers in stage two. It is intended for use in a rural NSW primary school. The school has a population of three hundred students. Technology is not currently a priority at this school, however every classroom has an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and either six iPods or iPads. The computer lab houses fifteen computers and an IWB. The library has an IWB and six iPods. The storytelling project has been created using Thinglink. This tool is versatile in that it works on all modern web browsers as well as iPad, iPhone and Android (Thinglink, n.d.). Using this resource can be one way of gradually introducing the value technology has to offer (particularly digital literature) to the school community. Reading is shaped by a diversity of texts, devices, interfaces and experiences (O’Connell, Bales and Mitchell, 2015). This digital tool is dynamic in that it provides the ability to incorporate many different rich media tools such as images, video, audio and text.
The digital story strives to incorporate community aspects that will assist students to relate stories, reading and writing to their own lives. This corresponds with the NSW English Syllabus Stage Two Outcomes which states students respond to a range of texts that express viewpoints similar to their world (Board of Studies NSW, 2012). It also serves as a model for students to develop their own digital stories. The Digital Storytelling Process by Morra (2013) is a helpful guide, not only to assist students but also to help teachers create exemplars of digital stories.
Morra (2013) suggests the first step is coming up with an idea. The main idea behind The Secrets of Quando was to motivate disengaged students struggling with reading. According to Dalton and Grisham (2013), the evidence is growing that technology and media supports struggling readers. Furthermore, Cheek and Ortlieb (2013) describe how using Text to Speech (TTS) tools are a priority for struggling readers as this assists with increasing their volume of reading, which in turn helps readers to identify not only as readers with particular interests, but also indirectly increases vocabulary, comprehension, word recognition and fluency. Consequently, a TTS tool has been added-on so that each chapter has audio options. This ensures that struggling readers can access peer level information.
This digital story can be used across a number of key learning areas (KLA). Initially designed for helping struggling readers, the subject area is mainly focused on reading and creative writing in English. However, as the story unfolds, topics such as farm life, animals and land emerge thus opening up opportunities for the teacher to make connections to other KLA’s such as history, geography, science and also has the potential to contribute to the cross curriculum priority of sustainability (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], (2014). Using Thinglink assists students and teachers to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), one of the general capabilities in the Australian curriculum. The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, [MCEETYA], (2008) through the Melbourne Declaration on National Goals for Young People, expressed how skill development and practical knowledge in the areas of ICT and design and technology are central to providing crucial pathways to post-school success and are central to Australia’s skilled economy. Using digital tools such as Thinglink has the benefit and value of empowering students to become competent users of technology. As this project is an exemplar, students can explore the options this tool has to offer and then create their own stories, thus developing their creative and critical thinking skills. According to Serafini and Young (2013) readers can expand their ideas as they make intertextual connections to experiences outside of school and to pop culture through creating multimodal presentations including video clips, photographs, music and sound effects. Using Thinglink to create their own stories and presentations will enable students to acquire these skills and benefits. “Technology must enhance literacy learning” maintains Callow (2010). Using Thinglink will support and enhance literacy learning in many ways as described above.
The value of Thinglink is that students will be supported to use this tool and by using all the features will gain knowledge and skills not only in ICT but also in other subject areas that may be incorporated. In addition, the value of this resource is that it has endless possibilities to further explore, such as students collaborating to develop the story, finding their own pictures to upload, generating more information about the community and the history associated with agriculture and uploading it to the Thinglink. The inclusion of TTS tools helps to address diverse learning needs of struggling readers. Digital resources are educationally valuable when they focus on the learning needs of their intended audience (Education Services Australia, 2012, p. 5). Other factors for consideration is that this resource can be used in a number of ways; a storytelling lesson within a classroom or the school library, it has a collaborative space, it has a variety of media rich links to ensure student engagement. It can be used individually by students. The Learning and Support Teacher (LaST) could use it to develop many skills with individual or small groups of students. The possibilities are endless, technology is exponential, we need to ensure students are using it to enhance their appreciation of digital literature and at the same time continually developing technology skills.
If you like non-fiction, are an animal lover, look no further, this is definitely the book for you! It delights the young reader with beautiful colourful illustrations, photographs, and lots of interesting facts about pets.
Category of resource
This book is an e-book, or as Unsworth (2008) describes the categorisation as an ‘electronically augmented literary text’. This is when a book has been originally published in hardback or paperback and is then re-published in digital format.
The e-book is part of a series of books by author Tony Robinson. He has written many books of historical fiction for children and has received awards for some of them. He is also well known as the presenter of the TV series ‘TimeTeam.’ The book was also written with author Jessica Cobb. These writers have ensured the content within this book is a combination of carefully crafted language that is perfectly suited to primary age students, alongside beautiful and funny illustrations by Del Thorpe. Furthermore, the humour is well matched, age appropriate and bound to engage and delight students.
Alignment with curriculum or program purpose
This e-book could be used in conjunction with the following lesson plans provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at this link. The IFAW resource is available through Scootle and has been specifically tailored to the Australian Curriculum and addresses the following key learning areas; English, Maths, Science and Art. It is aimed at stage 2 students.
This book could also be used in conjunction with the history curriculum. Furthermore, students can read this non-fiction e-book for enjoyment as per Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d. Year 4 level description.
Value of digital affordances for the literature
This digital affordances for the literature in this e-book do not necessarily provide much more than the physical copy of the book. Although, students can still acquire digital skills by learning how to navigate the book successfully, it could be a great start for students with few digital skills. Furthermore, the interest shown in e-books can translate into greater interest in the actual physical book of the same, describes Guernsey (2011). One student when asked why they preferred this e-book over a physical book, mentioned it was easier and quicker to flick through the pages to find information in the e-book.
Possibilities for feedback and/or adaptation
There are no possibilities for feedback or adaptation, this being the nature of standard e-books.
Intrinsic motivation of the digital environment for users
This e-book is designed well and is easily navigated by the reader. Readers can seamlessly move to any chapter by clicking on the menu. They can also search words to find specific information through the search tool, which will help readers to find information quickly thus reducing any frustration that may occur when searching a physical book.
The e-book is beautifully designed and presented in a colourful and fun format with the inclusion of fun filled interesting facts and funny illustrations alongside some actual photographs of pets. The facts are presented in a very interesting way with speech and thought bubbles used with the illustrations and photos.
Interaction and usability
Lamb (2011) describes this category of e-book as being similar to the print version and having linear text but also having some additional features such as highlighters, virtual bookmarks and search tools. This e-book has some of those features including; a menu tab, this enables the reader to jump to any chapter instantly, a virtual bookmark, and a search tool which allows the reader to search for a particular word within the book and the results show up with the search word highlighted and what chapter it is in.
Accessibility and reusability
This e-book was downloaded through the BorrowBox app. It can be read on ereaders or tablets. It is reusable in that it can be read like any non-fiction book, flicking back and forth to find information. It is available for download for $11.99. Read the extract of the 1st chapter for a sneak preview.
This is a fantasy novel targeted at 9-14 year olds. The protagonist is Roland Bartholomew Dexter the Third. He is nine years old and lives in house attached to a barber shop. It is immediately apparent that this an unusual story as many things are made from hair, such as the hammocks the family uses to sleep in. The title of this book is referring to loose strands of hair. Another quirky point about the book is in order to navigate this interactive digital story, the reader follows the ‘loose strands’ of hair as they slink around the page to guide the direction of the story.
“As you’ll learn when you get older, most twenty-two-year-olds think they know everything whether they’ve read all the books in their library or not” (Moyes, 2014). This type of humour pops up unexpectedly and sporadically throughout the book. The author suggests it is suitable for readers from nine year olds to ninety nine year olds and this humour is definitely aimed towards older readers. This book is a surprise in the way the reader has decisions to make and choices to take. Click this link to listen to an interview with the author Mark Moyes.
The initial setting is bleak, the characters dreary mood is captured well through the writing. It compels the reader to want to know the world outside Roland’s house. This means the book is captivating on the level of intrinsic motivation. It transports the reader into Roland’s unusual world, it does have some illustrations and animations to keep the reader interested but also allows the imagination to grow as they try to envisage what will happen next in this remarkable and bizarre world of Roland’s.
Category and content quality of resource
The category of this resource can be described as a ‘digitally originated literary text’ according to Unsworth (2007) as it has been published in digital format only. However, it is actually more associated with his second category, ‘electronically re-contextualised literary text’ as it does not include access to characters or hyperlinks to further information. It can be also be described as interactive fantasy fiction. It is first and foremost a book, but also an app. It contains illustrations, animations and has a ‘choose your own adventure’ style which makes this a non-linear story.
The content quality within this resource is top quality as the author Markian Moyes has a background in editing, coding and writing. He has won many awards and is very good at his craft. The captivating illustrations have been drawn by Jeff Frizzell an experienced illustrator and designer.
Alignment with curriculum
It is interesting to note that the book is being used not just for literacy but also as a social and emotional teaching tool. There is a webinar ‘Using Loose Strands in the classroom as a teaching tool’ available at this website. (Unfortunately it is currently only available to members of the American Association of School Librarians, perhaps it will become freely available in the near future).
Value of digital affordances for the literature
According to Doiron (2010) the research is showing that visuals such animations and illustrations are assisting students to comprehend more easily. These multimodal features appear in Loose Strands thus potentially assisting students with their reading in different ways. Watch this video as the author explains some of the digital affordances of the app:
There is no option for feedback within the app. The adaptation offered is the availability of the ‘choose your own adventure’ style with some options to take along the way.
Intrinsic motivation of the digital environment for users
This app was loaned some year four students, to read on a number of different occasions to see if they showed much interest. Initially all students wanted to look at it as they have limited access to computers at this particular school. Some just flicked through it really quickly without reading it as they just wanted to follow the strands. Others said they really want to have another look as they did not get a chance to read it. I think the novelty of the interactiveness initially distracts from the reading but then once they played around with the app and understand the how and why of it they settled down to actually read the book. Over the past couple of weeks students are asking if they can continue to read the book, definitely an encouraging sign. According to Moyes (2016) the style of the book causes the children to pause in order to think about which option they will choose and perhaps encourages deeper thinking. He elaborates by suggesting students will begin to develop ideas around the themes of regret due to the consequences of their choices. He concludes by revealing that no matter what choices are made within the book, the different options all lead to a dramatic, climactic ending.
Accessibility and reusability
The app can be downloaded from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. This ensures that it is accessible on most devices. (Requires iPad 2 and above) The option to ‘continue’ is available as well as ‘start over’. This allows the reader to start the story again and choose different options or continue where they left off. This ensures reusability as different options may be chosen if rereading.
Darned Sock Productions. (2014, May 26). Game elements in loose strands – dev diary 2: Why a book app? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdcYl8NjfPM
Infinity Ring is an experience. This experience can be described as an immersive, participatory, action packed digital literature adventure.
Category of resource
This type of reading experience can best be described in Unsworth’s (2007) third category as a ‘digitally originated literary text.’ There is much to discover within this portal. It is an exciting digital literary experience for students to investigate.
The first book in this series has been written by James Dashner, the author of the number one New York Times bestselling Maze Runner Series. He also won the Whitney Award in 2008 for Best Youth Fiction with The 13th Reality. The writers of the other books in the series are also New York Times bestselling authors as well as winning many literary awards. The calibre of these writers helps to ensure the literary content is of a consistently high standard.
Alignment with curriculum or program purpose
The ICT Capability in the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d.) seeks to empower students to be able to participate in a technologically sophisticated society and in order to achieve this they need knowledge, skills and confidence to use ICT. Using interactive and multimodal technologies transform the ways students think and learn. Using texts such as the Infinity Ring will help students develop and improve in these skills. This text experience can also be used to improve skills in Year 4 English language; text structure and organisation (ACARA, n.d., ACELA1793), literature; responding to literature (ACARA, n.d., ACELT1603). The text can also be used in innovative ways such as the following example of Reader’s Theatre performed by some of the authors including James Dashner. Click here to watch the clip.
Value of digital affordances for the literature
It ticks the boxes of being immersive and participatory. It is highly engaging and has many different digital manipulations. These manipulations of media such as image, text and video can assist the reader to construct meaning according to Bourchardon and Heckman (2012).
Possibilities for feedback and/or adaptation
Students can ask questions and post ideas in the forum. This is where the platform could have provided more opportunities for student input in a variety of ways. The lack of this is the only disappointment in this otherwise great digital literature platform.
Intrinsic motivation of the digital environment for users
There are seven e-books to download and seven original online episodes to watch. There are games to play for each episode and levels to attain. It definitely has an exciting and modern feel to it. The downside of the mechanics of participating in the quizzes is that readers can just click any of the buttons to locate the correct answer without reading anything.
The design is very attractive, full of action graphics sure to fire up the imagination of young readers. It has a modern ‘gaming’ feel to the design and it certainly encourages further exploration.
Interaction and usability
There is a lot of interaction for the reader within the portal; quests to help save the world, quizzes to take, videos of author interviews to watch, opportunities for readers to post in forums etc. There are games to play and episodes to watch, it is jam packed with lots of information and is straightforward to navigate.
Accessibility and reusability
The portal is accessible through the Scholastic website here.
Readers sign up through email and are given a choice of usernames which ensures anonymity which is important for cyber safety of young students. It is available on desktop computers, and mobile devices. Books can be purchased from a number of different outlets, such as here, either in hard copy or e-book download. It would be valuable to have the books available at the school library in both formats.
In order to access the game and video section, players are required to download the software program ‘Unity Webplayer’. I attempted to download this on a number of occasions and was unsuccessful.
This is certainly an exciting option and direction for teachers to take on board and begin to incorporate these wonderful digital literature experiences in their everyday classroom practices.
Dashner, J. (2012). A mutiny in time. [Scholastic inc.]. Retrieved from http://infinityring.scholastic.com/books/a-mutiny-in-time
Part B: Critical Reflection of Digital Literature Experiences
Is it perhaps because this is my last subject in the MEdTL that my brain did not engage and I experienced a stumbling block and really struggled to comprehend not only what I was reading but also what I refer to as my ‘writing mojo’ vanished. I read the modules, listened to the online meeting, read the forum discussions and eventually emailed the lecturer with what I thought at the time was a silly question regarding the categories. It was definitely a silly question as slowly and gradually the information filtered through and I began to grasp what the different categories of e-books encompassed. Information and explanation of this was everywhere! I have come so far in my ‘electronic book’ learning journey since this original blog post.
I embarked upon this assignment with great enthusiasm, what was not to like? Reviewing books, and the fact that they were a variety of digital literature seemed exciting, relevant and practical. However, I quickly realised that this was a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated. This task needed careful consideration and analysis in order to ensure issues such as; suitability for specific age groups, considering the needs of the individual students, their backgrounds, the community, the relevance to the curriculum all need to be deliberated. Primarily, the matter of understanding the actual categories was paramount. These categories have been described by a number of authors in different ways and some break them into further classifications. I mainly used Unsworth’s (2007) categories to decipher the difference in types of digital literature that is currently available.
I wanted to choose very different forms of e-books to ensure I grasped the nuances of the variety of formats. Personally, I am not a big fan of nonfiction, so I first thing I chose was nonfiction. Furthermore, I am not necessarily an animal lover so I chose a nonfiction and pets combination as children tend to be fascinated by animals and they also enjoy weird facts. This book by Tony Robinson is a perfect combination and to top it all off has humour thrown in to ensure these young readers are engaged and delighted to learn not only about animals but also their links to history over time. The format for this choice was a basic e-book, or as Walsh (2013) describes this as traditional literature in digital form.
I moved up a level with second book and picked an interactive e-book app in a choose your own adventure style. I chose this book because I am a little obsessed with the fantasy genre at the moment. The digital affordances ‘bells and whistles’ of the app did not necessarily add to my enjoyment of the book (with the exception of the beautiful illustrations), to me it was all about the storyline, but students that I shared the book with really enjoyed the digital manipulations that were immersed in the app. This format of e-book would be described by Walsh (2013) as a digital narrative created solely in digital form.
The final category of e-book that I was most excited about and most keen to explore was the ability for the reader to fully engage and immerse themselves in a particular story in an online format. Walsh (2013) would describe this as perhaps a hybrid text. I myself, albeit in a very small way, have recently begun to see the intrinsic enjoyment and pleasure of participating in this way as a reader. As I completed ETL523 (Digital Citizenship), I was required to join Twitter. I began following some of my favourite authors. This led to my own short story of immersive, participatory online digital literature (of sorts!). I tweeted this to one of my favourite authors….
(This photo was taken while on my ETL507 study visit to Cairns!)
He replied with this………….
(To be continued……)
I spent much time deliberating on what to choose for my third category book review because I really wanted to find something that encapsulated the whole kit and kaboodle for a stage two group of students. I trialed many options, signing up via email, downloading programs to run various games etc. Pottermore (2016) was at the forefront of my mind, having previously read blogs and reviews highly recommending it and also being a big Harry Potter fan I was intrigued. Therefore, I signed up via email and was initially enthralled; firstly to be sorted into Gryffindor (oh the relief and joy of not being sorted into the Slytherin House!) My beautiful wand of dogwood wood and unicorn hair chose me after answering the wand quiz!
The Pottermore site has so much to offer in terms of character background, maps of Diagon Alley, new and exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling, videos, news features etc. Alas, there is information available on the internet via various blogs etc. that discussed a number of games on the Pottermore site, but all of these games have been removed. Some explanations for this is that games take up lots of space, hence sighting cost as a factor for their removal. I think the removal of these original games has led to the website becoming literally just a website, it is no longer interactive apart from the sorting and wand business. It is not participatory and thus I was very disappointed and decided to move on and attempt to find something that ticked all the boxes in the third category.
I then really struggled to find a truly interactive digital literature site that I had a preconceived notion of. I finally settled on Infinity Ring but was not completely satisfied, I feel it needs more opportunities for participation, collaboration and also for students to submit storylines in some format.
By this stage I had lost my ‘writing mojo’ and had really wanted to get my assignment finished so I could indulge (study guilt free!) in a weekend away at the Melbourne Writers Festival. After an hour of listening to a discussion with Justin Cronin at the ACMI in Federation Square, followed by autographs and photographs, this was all that was required. The joy of this occasion was truly inspiring, Justin Cronin, novelist, academic, with five novels under his belt was a fabulous speaker and graciously spent so much time afterwards for all of his fans. On the train home, I recommenced my assignment, inspired by my favourite author, my ‘writing mojo’ returned and this is where my story concludes….
(Justin Cronin et moi at the Melbourne Writers Festival, very exciting stuff!)
Students need to develop critical skills of learning how to use digital tools efficiently and effectively. They need to learn how to engage online in a collaborative and participatory way. All of these skills and more can be embraced and enhanced through the world of digital literature thus assisting students to develop skills they need now and into the future.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” (Abraham Lincoln)
I began creating change for my future career when I decided to take up this course. The purpose and motivation to embark on this course of study has been a very exciting opportunity to open up many possibilities in order to change the direction of my teaching career. I currently have not had the opportunity to put some of the many things I have learned into practice as I am not currently a teacher librarian. I am really looking forward to gaining a position (chomping at the bit in fact!) to implement many of the wonderful teaching practices I have learned such as inquiry learning, information specialist, digital citizenship, and the many web 2 tools that I have discovered since beginning this course.
This journey of studying the Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) has been interesting but also incredibly challenging. I am very grateful to my fellow students, as their assistance and encouragement has been invaluable. The course encourages us to develop personal learning networks and where better to start than with our fellow students, onwards and upwards.
The role of the Teacher Librarian
At the beginning of this course I thought had a fair idea of what it was to be a teacher librarian after a couple of casual teaching days in a primary school library. During the introduction subject (ETL401) I quickly realised that the role of the TL is significantly more wide ranging than I originally anticipated. These thoughts are expressed here on my blog. The role of the TL is not confined to the school library but incorporates whole school endeavours. The role is first and foremost a teaching role. This teaching role encompasses leadership, collaboration, inquiry learning, curriculum planning, technology teacher, teacher of reading and literature, professional development provider to name just a few.
This infographic by Joyce Valenza shows how valuable TLs are, by presenting what it is that TLs teach in a concise display.
The other major role of the teacher librarian is more focused on the librarian side of the position. This mainly regards issues such as arranging the collection, resourcing the curriculum, developing library policies, and maintaining library management systems. Thinking about implementing all of these requirements is dizzying and nerve wracking but throughout this course I have learned so much about all of these aspects. Like any new job can be daunting, I envisage that once I gain employment as a TL, I will gradually develop my skills and confidence in these areas and slowly implement some of the main aspects of this role such as inquiry learning. My placement at a TAFE library helped me realise that I am capable and also contributed to building my confidence in this area.
One of the highlights of my time studying was receiving a great result in the subject that I found the most challenging! This was EER500 – Introduction to Educational Research. The strange thing was that it was this challenge that I weirdly enjoyed. This subject initially seems perplexing in that it is a core subject but upon reflection (mainly through my study visit) I realised that it helped develop skills that are a core component of what it is to be in the library profession. Skills such as synthesising, critical thinking, analysing and evaluating were all further developed during this subject. These are vital skills that we need in order to assist students to develop these very same skills. Therefore participation in and completion of EER 500 was central to developing my skills as a teacher librarian.
I also discovered another link to this particular subject while on my study visit. A common theme throughout the various organisations was that librarians need to continually justify their value and effectiveness. They do this through data collection, including quantitative and qualitative data. It is therefore important to know how to collect this data for evaluation purposes in order to prove, for example, how the school library is related to increased student learning outcomes. Data can also be gathered to justify decisions made within the school library setting. Gathering this data requires analytical thinking skills and an understanding of basic research concepts and methods. This data can be collected in a number of ways such as through the library management system, and also through the use of questionnaires for survey research, in-depth interview and focus group for qualitative approaches.
Furthermore, another surprising factor was that completing this particular subject (EER500) also gave me ideas for other areas of the information profession that I could now lean towards which had not previously been on my radar – ever! Consequently, it gives me food for thought and I wonder now where this profession may lead me, perhaps to places I had never anticipated such as working at a university library. Universities are increasingly concerned about research as much of their funding is derived from research activities. Therefore, roles within academic libraries are expanding to include research support activities, research data management, literature search and synthesis and recommendations of publications, to name just a few.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays a vital role within a school and particularly within the school library. We are well into the twenty first century and technology is constantly growing and changing at a phenomenal rate. The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (2008) explains in The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians that students need to be highly skilled in ICT. As adults and teachers we look at children and students and tend to assume they are competent users of technology but unfortunately this is not the reality. An increasing number of educators and researchers believe that students may be fluent in certain technologies in their lives outside school but within an educational context they are markedly lower in their technological abilities describes Howell (2013). The NMC Horizon report (2015) indicates experts agree key trends that are likely to impact K-12 education over the next five years across the globe are; schools working towards bolstering student engagement and driving more innovation, adopting 3D printing, and adaptive learning technologies. Digital badges and wearable technologies are expected to be mainstream in schools within four to five years.
Once gainfully employed in a TL position I would consider proposing the implementation of a technology team. This team could evaluate changes made by collecting data at the beginning of implementation through, for example, a survey done via Google Forms. Data could be collected regularly to gather evidence of improvements (if any) or areas where improvement is needed. The TL can take a prominent role in developing technology throughout the school, this can be achieved through providing professional development, through teaching students how to use digital tools. It can also be achieved by assisting with development of an ICT continuum for all stage levels.
In order to implement technology successfully, I would turn to peer reviewed research and evidence based strategies such as the Teacher professional learning: Planning for change, report from Education.au Ltd. (2009). This report provides detailed information on how some schools in Australia developed a framework for integrating ICT across their schools. It is important to draw on Australian resources to ensure relevancy. Furthermore, In June of this year Education Services Australia and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (2016) developed the Digital Technologies Hub. This website is designed to assist and support teachers by providing resources such as practical learning sequences connected to the curriculum.
This video (posted on my blog on 30th May, 2016) from November (2013) is an influential source for encouraging reluctant teachers to embrace technology, it could be used at a staff development day. There is an enormous amount of information on how technology can be implemented in schools, this in itself can be confronting and challenging for reluctant teachers. Technology can be gradually integrated over time to assist with adoption of new skills for both teachers and students alike.
In an effort to promote and foster technology among those reluctant teachers it must also be noted that it is in fact a compulsory teaching topic throughout each stage level and throughout the curriculum. It is one of the seven general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum and as the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014 notes, “teachers are expected to teach and assess general capabilities to the extent that they are incorporated within learning area content.” The reason I feel strongly about this is I am currently working in a school where many teachers are, for a variety of different reasons, not keen to embrace technology.
I also learned about Makerspaces and am very interested in the idea not only as a practical physical space in the library but also developing this in an online manner. This is an area I worked on in both ETL523 and through research in EER500. Using technology such as QR Codes can also be a way for the TL to quickly gather evidence of learning either as a before and after lesson assessment or throughout units of work. At the beginning of this course I was not necessarily a confident user of technology but have really embraced this aspect as being a key feature of the skills a TL needs to have in their armoury. I have a long way to go in terms of being a technology expert, but I plan to keep adding to my skills in this area by continuing with professional development opportunities. We need to help students to live and work efficiently now and into future by helping them become experts in ICT.
We can’t really go past ICT without mentioning the world of social media. At the beginning of this course I used Facebook but had not thought of it in terms of education. I am now currently learning to use Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I am also gradually developing a personal learning network by joining various relevant library and teaching forums. As I am acquiring more knowledge on how to use these platforms, step by step, this will also help with developing a digital citizenship program throughout any school curriculum.
Digital citizenship is hugely important for our students. We are living in a world that is increasingly globally connected and digital citizenship is so much more than being aware of cyberbullying which is how I originally envisaged this subject. The participation in and completion of ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools demonstrated that there is so much more involved in this subject. The following infographic explains some of the main concepts that students need to understand and be immersed in through the implementation of a school wide digital citizenship program that can be led by the teacher librarian.
The role of leadership as a TL had certainly not come to mind before commencing this course. However, ETL504 Teacher Librarian as Leader opened up a whole new area for the role of the TL that I had not previously considered. In a time where the employment of teacher librarians can be tentative with regards to funding, it is vital that the TL in schools step up and embrace the role of leadership. This can be achieved in a number of ways; through searching out opportunities to build and grow their skill set, by seeking opportunities to be involved in decision making – from small committees, curriculum teams, to whole school professional meetings.
The changing information and educational landscape and how this affects the way students engage in their learning can be a catalyst for the TL to shine within their role and demonstrate this by engaging in leadership activities. This can be facilitated through firstly working with teachers to develop appropriate scope and sequences. ASLA (2014) describes TLs as curriculum leaders that are involved in school curriculum committees; involved in curriculum planning and also working with Principals and senior staff to ensure information literacy outcomes are a major school focus. The TL can help develop inquiry based library learning approaches by helping to develop and implement whole school information literacy scope and sequences, through team planning, collaborative teaching etc.
Teacher librarians can embrace a number of different styles of leadership within their role. Servant leadership style can be used by leading from the middle, through developing the skills of others as described by Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005). This can be done through the TL providing professional development in technology. In an effort to develop my confidence in leadership skills and add to my professional learning plan I am currently part of one of the strategic teams at my school, this is the social and emotional learning team and we are currently implementing the Second Step program throughout the school. This has been a valuable experience in that it demonstrates leadership to me in the form of the ways in which the assistant principal attempts to inspire members of the team to embrace this project, this is by no means an easy sell as team members are experienced teachers that have been around for a long time!
As the TL develops leadership skills, they will draw upon many aspects of the role of the TL. This will incorporate bringing together some of the seven general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum such as; information literacy, creative and critical thinking and ICT. In order to support these general capabilities the TL must incorporate their skills in collection development and management. They demonstrate this by providing access to relevant resources and teaching critical thinking skills by assisting students to analyse and synthesise these resources through the scaffolding required in guided inquiry lessons. This also connects to the criteria that teacher librarians “understand that professionally managed and resourced school libraries are crucial to the achievements of the school community” to the standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians (ASLA, 2014). Communication skills include being open-minded, respectful, mindful, listening and portraying confidence which all contribute to the success of a transformational leader. These are all skills that a TL can demonstrate and a TL can assist the leadership/executive team within a school by developing as a transformational leader and helping to promote and drive the vision.
The end is in sight, with just one more subject to go, I will be a fully qualified teacher librarian. This will mark the end of this course but the learning will be continuous. This course has taught me that teacher librarians need to keep up to date with technology, this can be achieved in a variety of ways such as online professional development courses. There are exciting opportunities in this area such as becoming a Google Educator and doing some gamification courses. This is the sort of thing I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into when I have completed my masters. It is a vital component of maintaining a relevant and up to date professional requirement for the role of teacher librarian. I cannot wait to begin my career as a teacher librarian. It is an exciting, innovative and creative teaching role and has the added bonus of being surrounded by beautiful books.
I would like to volunteer at some libraries, school or otherwise to gain experience and to develop confidence in my ability to run a library whether it be a school, public or any other interesting specialist library. One of the main reasons I decided to enrol in this course was my interest and passion for reading fiction. I wanted to work in an environment that is overwhelmingly concerned about books. I am also interested in the specifics of teaching children to read and learning new technology thus it is a perfect fit. I want to inspire children to read, I want them to be transported to other worlds, I want them to be able to find something that interests them and for them to follow this passion. Neil Gaiman (2013) describes the importance of reading for pleasure in his lecture here for The Reading Agency.
In terms of long term goals I would like to continually develop my skills in ICT in order to become a proficient and confident leader of technology within any TL position. Completing this portfolio has helped me to connect all the subjects I have participated in and to understand their significance within the role of the TL. I have come full circle from my own primary school days where we were not allowed to visit or borrow from our school library! Bizarre! I think now when I see such dynamic school libraries just how lucky the students are to experience this part of school life and even luckier if they have access to a vibrant, innovative and creative school teacher librarian.
My experience with digital literature environments to date is mostly ebooks. I was also recently given a ‘Kobo’ (similar to a Kindle) as a birthday present. I love my physical books but the Kobo is great for travelling. Additionally, I recently discovered that I can use the Borrow Box library app to transfer ebooks onto the Kobo which is really economical as they have a large collection on offer. Furthermore, I am a little obsessed with the audio books on this app too, but as Lamb (2011, p. 13), asks the question “Is it a book?” We are in a time of phenomenal technological change and as Lamb (2011, p. 13) further considers, it is time to redefine the meaning of “reading a book”. In the past I used digital stories with students at the special school where I taught. They tended to love all things technology and in turn were engaged with the digital stories. The difference that I am realising now is that we were users of digital stories and not creators. This is an aspect that I look forward to embracing in this subject.
During my participation in ETL523 I investigated a number of online tools, there is a vast amount available on the internet and I found that while using a particular tool takes time to manipulate and understand, it is important to have a basic understanding of the tools that will be used with students in order to assist them, but at the same time it is not necessary to know every aspect of the tool, this becomes an opportunity for students to explore and create and also to encourage them to peer teach.
There are many different types of multimodal texts, Walsh (2013) describes the difference between traditional stories online and animated versions of online well known picture books. Walsh elaborates on whether as teachers we need to consider if these various versions of digital stories will motivate students to read more and if it will enhance their response to literature. The chapter from Walsh is highlighting the importance of evaluation of these various digital literature formats. As teachers, we need to choose carefully by using guidelines and criteria.
As am I currently employed as an SLSO (School Learning Support Officer), it is interesting to hear the opinions of my colleagues with regard to technology in general. Unfortunately there are many that are not in favour of students using technology within the classroom apart from the IWB. On the other hand there are a few that are very capable and passionate about integrating technology throughout the curriculum. There are many reasons that integration of technology throughout the curriculum is important and Leu, D.J. et al (2011) describe some in this paper. One way of encouraging teachers to implement new technologies is by being supportive and assisting through peer coaching and gradually introducing new technologies. Teachers can start with websites such as this example. We need to teach students now, so they can develop the skills and confidence to operate effectively in today’s world and into the future.
Langwitches. (2010). Digital storytelling- It is not about the tools…It’s about the skills. retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/langwitches/4342696757/in/set-72157605083562304/
Leu, D. J., Gregory McVerry, J., Ian O’Byrne, W., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C. and Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5–14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1
Communication, collaboration, innovation, digital tools, globalisation, cultural awareness, authentic learning….. all this and so much more. This subject is extensive and wide ranging and I have learned so much. I have always enjoyed technology but have not necessarily been a confident or ‘smooth’ operator in this area and certainly did not feel poised to teach digital tools or even digital citizenship. However, now I feel my confidence has grown considerably in this area, while definitely not an expert as there is still so much to learn, but now I realise it can be learned alongside students as well as participating in professional development.
Throughout this semester I engaged in online group collaboration for assignment one, this was a new way of learning for me. We used Facebook Messenger, Skype,
Team 1.3 hard at work
Google Docs and Diigo to coordinate, communicate and collaborate. I thoroughly embraced the aspect of connecting with Team 1.3, an eclectic, fun, creative and welcoming group (what happens in Team 1.3, stays in Team 1.3 :)). I really enjoyed this assignment as it taught me many practical skills as I delved into creating a book trailer, Wiki, Powtoon, and Voki. Nevertheless, in order to actually create my digital artefacts I sampled many digital tools to determine the most suitable for the assignment. This was challenging at times and I pondered on this exercise in my blog entry here.
Reflecting on how challenging this task was, allowed me to recognize and appreciate how students may feel using digital tools they are unfamiliar with. It revealed how important it is to have knowledge and skills of digital tools that are being introduced to students. At the same time, it also helped me appreciate that it is not necessary to know every single aspect of each digital tool, as there is opportunity here for students to explore and collaborate.
Students can help other students and also teachers. I feel this is a significant issue for many teachers, they do not like students telling them how things work or easier ways to go about using digital tools, and I have witnessed this many times. It is an aspect I feel I have really embraced and am now more than happy for students to make suggestions and teach me skills. November (2013), explains this as teachers needing to let go of control and more about showing students how to learn and not just what they (teachers) know. Alan November is an international leader in technology education, is genuinely interesting and worth listening to.
Another major learning experience was the introduction of the global aspect of online learning. In all honesty, I knew very little about this at the beginning of this subject. I developed my knowledge in this area while working on assignment one. There are so many exciting ways students can connect to peers around the world. One of these really interesting ways was through Mystery Skype, I reflect on the global aspect on my blog here.
The picture below is a collection of quotes from the 2016 Alltech Symposium in Kentucky. The second quote is from my nephew David. Alltech is a leading global biotechnology company. This is just one example of how students can get involved in exciting projects around the world and what the Digital Education advisory group (n.d.) describes as public-private partnerships.
Living in a remote part of NSW no longer means students have to feel isolated. They can connect globally online and develop many skills in areas such as; online digital tools, collaboration, innovation, creation, cultural awareness etc. Through all of this, digital citizenship skills and attitudes can be continually embedded and reinforced and focus on building positive digital online presence for all students. Initially, I thought digital citizenship was all about the negative, cyber bullying etc. However, the biggest realisation was, yes of course teaching that is a vital aspect but, equally important is equipping students with the capabilities to enable participation in a responsible, ethical, creative, positive online culture and building flourishing global digital citizens. I am so delighted I chose this elective as it has helped to catapult me into the 21st Century and poised to teach my 21st Century learners.
Altech Symposium. One idea can change your world. Retrieved from http://ag.alltech.com/en/blog/digitizing-agriculture-optimizing-farming
Module 3.1 Designing the digital learning environment
My personal DLE includes some Google Apps (Gmail and GoogleDocs). I use Skype, WhatsApp and FB Messenger for main communication.
Group Spaces – Facebook, Twitter
Curation Tools – Diigo, Pinterest
Doing assignment one meant my knowledge of a whole range of new digital tools was increased along with levels of frustration! In order to take me out of my comfort zone and take the bull by the horns I had to embrace this new technology. Here are a few of the tools I ‘dabbled’ in:-
I eventually decided Powtoon worked best for what I was trying to achieve. I did also want to embed a book trailer as an example of some digital content that students or teachers can create but I had a lot of difficulty achieving this and as a result did not include it as sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not! So I thought why not put it on my blog and introduce some of you to a really great read (if you’re into this kind of thing). I even sent my first ever tweet to the author of this book – sadly he didn’t reply! Put it on your to do list of leisurely reading when this course is completed 🙂
Module 4.1 Globalisation of information & learning
Why is it important to foster a global approach to digital citizenship?
It is incredibly important to foster a global approach not only to digital citizenship but all learning. Even though many people live in remote areas in the world, we are all so connected these days. The explosion in technology means we can easily be connected to other parts of the world no matter where we are, in an instant. I use Skype and WhatsApp almost daily to stay in touch with my family in Ireland which makes it feel as though I am not so far away.
We live in a multicultural society and need to foster cultural awareness, empathy and respect for all diversity. We can help students connect with other students across the world to learn about so many different ideas in an authentic way.
I really like the idea of using Skype, whether through Mystery Skype in the Classroom or Hello Little World Skypers. I currently live in a small rural NSW town, I know the students at my school would really enjoy being part of these types of programs and would also benefit enormously from such a diverse range of possible interactions.
Also, while doing assignment one I focused on the global aspect of digital citizenship and was really inspired by the collaborative global projects and competitions that are accessible. I look forward to implementing some of these ideas hopefully in the not too distant future.
My initial thoughts before commencing this subject were that teachers needed to teach responsible online behaviour/cyberbullying/internet safety etc. However, as with most of my MEdTL subjects, this is just skimming the surface of what it actually involves. There are innumerable topics that digital citizenship encompasses.
One of the great difficulties implementing digital citizenship that schools face is many teachers are very unsure about using technology and lack confidence in teaching and using web 2 tools (me included). I think this is a really big issue for schools and teachers and needs to be addressed systematically. This is difficult as technology changes so quickly it is hard to keep up to date. I think embedding digital citizenship across the curriculum will be the best way to achieve results. Systematically upskilling all teachers in the many areas of digital citizenship are essential. Perhaps one way of embarking on this is for schools to utilise the teacher librarian to help provide professional development to other staff members.
I found this great blog that describes many digital ideas for teachers to implement: –
These are just some of the courses that I have discovered so far that I am interested in and believe they will add to my ability to embed digital citizenship throughout the curriculum.
I think the digital learning environment is incredible and that we are lucky to be living in this century. As teachers, we need to embrace, promote, encourage and support students and staff to use technology in many ways. Throughout this learning, skills and attitudes can be embedded thus ensuring digital citizenship is incorporated every step of the way.
Meekin, M. (2013, April 22). Digital citizenship. [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/digital-citizenship/#comment-7929
This subject has covered tools and systems on how to provide effective access to information. My knowledge of Resource Description Access (RDA), Schools Catalogue Information Systems Subject Headings (SCISSH) and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system was pretty much nonexistent at the start of this semester. I was lucky enough to attend the Oliver training at my school last term. It was very interesting and timely as it demonstrated how these fields are interconnected and pertinent in many ways to our everyday work as a teacher librarian (TL).
RDA was tackled first and it was difficult to understand its complexities. Hider (2012) provides a wealth of knowledge and key concepts that are required to understand RDA. In my blog (Glynn, 2015) I describe how challenging RDA is with regard to terminology and the multiple layers within this that exist. Assignment one feedback emphasised the need for more attention to detail when following RDA instructions. Care and precision are procedures cataloguers practice when applying RDA details. However, Hider (2012, p. 88) reminds us that even if metadata is of excellent quality, it needs to operate in an effective user friendly system. O’Connell (2013, p. 6) states that although the TL does not need to create metadata, they do need to manage and understand information environments including RDA.
Assigning subject headings or “controlled subject vocabularies” (Hider, 2012, p. 154) has developed my understanding of many aspects of the school library network, Schools Cataloguing Information System (SCIS). I absorbed considerable information due to minimal previous knowledge of this system. Subject headings are inserted into SCIS as access points (Hider, 2012, p. 155). The allocation of relevant and specific subject headings assists users to access information seamlessly.
Using WebDewey (2015) helped gain an understanding of what is involved in creating a call number. Completing the exercises proved just how complicated the process is. School libraries tend not to follow DDC to its absolute extent due to the fact that they are considering the needs of their students as users. This means numbers are sometimes truncated and stop at a logical cut off point (SCIS, 2013, p. 3-7). The DDC system assists librarians to place and group books logically on shelves and at the same time help users to locate specific books.
Carrying out RDA, subject headings and DDC exercises has been a demanding process. However it has definitely contributed to the development of my knowledge and understandings of these important information environments. There has been considerable discussion in the forums indicating the challenging nature of this subject.
There are trends developing in some school libraries to shelve books according to genre. This is an interesting development with some libraries embracing the idea. There are several ways of implementing this idea and it does not necessarily mean that there is no longer a DDC system. Jameson (2013, p. 13) recommends any changes should incorporate a consistent method and should be based on the needs of the users. School libraries of the future might incorporate technology such as applications reading chips in the spine labels of books describes Moreillon (2013, p. 43). There are certainly interesting times ahead for school libraries and teacher librarians.
Hider, P. (2012). Information Resource Description: creating and managing
metadata. London: Facet.
Jameson, J. (2013). A genre conversation begins. Knowledge Quest, 42(2), 10-13.
Moreillon, J., Hunt, J., & Graves, C. (2013). One common challenge–Two different solutions. Knowledge Quest, 42(2), 38-43.