Module 6 Thoughts

After reading through module 6 I thought and jotted down some notes and thoughts about the content.

Since beginning my studies I’ve been fascinated with the concept of introducing ebooks to the primary library. Mainly because I’m not entirely sure how to go about it in a practical manner.

Module 6 got me thinking about the perceived disconnection between acquisitions of ebooks versus physical copies. This year I’ve been working in a school library 3 days a week and come face to face with teachers and admin staff that aren’t really sure about the place of a school library in the modern world of technology. I’ve noticed that many staff prefer the library to just deal in physical copies of things. Whether this is because they aren’t comfortable with new Oliver software or are simply unaware of how this could work.

Secondly I’ve been confronted with students and teachers for that matter that are not comfortable using technology beyond simple apps and google searches. To make matters worse that lack of reliable technology and the funding to improve this technology is seriously lacking which further benefits the argument that libraries should be sticking to physical copies of things.  When you’ve got technology thats unreliable a book never fails or changes on you last minute.

Finally there have been many complaints from staff that there is a lack of support from the admin team in regards to helping teachers with technology and supporting professional development in that regard. Although this is school specific I would not be surprised if this was the case in many schools across NSW.

So what is a Primary School Librarian to do?

As suggested in the readings we need to collaborate and build connections between staff. A collection policy needs to be implemented and staff need to be brought on board and educated about what the library could offer with the right support from the whole school community.

Digital Storytelling Project and Reflection

Part A – Context for Digital Story Telling Project

http://connecting2places.weebly.com/inf533-context–references.html

Part B – Digital Story Telling Project

http://connecting2places.weebly.com/

Part C – Critical Reflection

The first blog post for this subject I stated that I was wary and disenfranchised with technology in education. I was and am fairly computer literate but the lack of infrastructure in schools and a crammed curriculum meant that I had not been able to develop technology in the classroom to a level I believed we should be. I had also hoped that this subject would be informative and help me to learn about more interesting and practical ways to incorporate the digital environment into the classroom and library. (Petterson, 2016)

Below is a summary of what I have learned and the opinions that have changed:

  1. How wide and varied digital media has become.

Although I was familiar with a range of e-books, websites and databases before starting this subject the idea of transmedia was a new concept to me. Mixed-media however was familiar in the form of artworks due to being an avid art lover and completing year 12 visual arts (Petterson, 2016). Eventually, through the second assessment and seeing resources like Pine Point (Shoebridge and Simons, 2011), I came to the conclusion that transmedia and mixed media were similar, they both combined a variety of media to create a cohesive ‘story’. However, I still struggle with how to keep them simple and appropriate for primary aged students where navigating the online world can be trickier as they are still learning to decode the different types of media.

  1. Importance of integrating technology rather and adding it on the end as a second thought.

Often us teachers forget that technology should not be used as a gimmick or to replace standard teaching tools e.g. using a word document instead of writing it out by hand. This subject has reminded me that technology should be adding real meaning to the lessons we teach not just as an engaging tool. Although in the early years it needs to be explicitly taught so that students pick up the basics such as typing and accessing websites etc. Most children in this day and age are ‘digital natives’ and will have already been exposed to technology from and early age. (Yang et.al, 2014)

  1. Students as creators not just consumers

Although understanding and using technology in the classroom is important teaching students to create in this environment is equally so. 21st century skills dictate that students need to be capable of working collaboratively and online ( Partnership for Twenty First Century Skills , 2007). Using technology will likely be a part of their daily lives as our young students grow up. Blooms Taxonomy could be key in teaching this to students and gives a list of fantastic examples for each tier (Churches, 2009).

  1. Interactivity

One of the things I’ve struggled with in this course is the concept of interactivity. In my opinion, to be interactive resources need to be something where students are engaging with the media to create something more. I however, realised that many of the text that were doing this were easy to get lost in and difficult to navigate. There are some great examples of game interactivity that were interesting to follow such as Elegy for a Dead World (Dejobaan Games, 2016). but few examples of this for the primary age group.

  1. Struggles of different devices

As someone who uses a mac I am no stranger to the challenges of working with different systems. During assessment 2 I aimed to find examples that were free and available on as many devices as possible. This led me to using internet web based digital media as most devices have access to the internet now days. However, during that search I became aware that there is a great divide between android, mac, windows and various other platforms that offer digital media. I think in coming years with the rise of bring your own device programs in schools this issue will only become a more stressful task to overcome. I hope that developers will continue to find ways to make their work available on all platforms and that exclusivity will become a thing of the past. (Tustin, 2016)

  1. Copyright

Copyright is something that I need to do further research on and develop my skills in when using it at school. Like many teachers I have ‘forgotten’ to check copyright when photocopying or using online resources, which is something that we should be much more aware of as we should be leading by example with our students in how to show copyright and give acknowledgement when required. Intellectual property is important no matter the age and we should be acknowledging the hard work of others in one form or another. As a future teacher librarian I hope to teach both students and teachers about the importance of copyright in the education system.

References

Churches, A. (2009). Blooms digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/bloom%27s+digital+taxonomy

Dejobaan Games. (2016). Elegy for a dead world. Retrieved from http://www.dejobaan.com/elegy/

Partnership for Twenty First Century Learning. (2007). Framework for 21st Century Learning, http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework

Petterson, S. (2016). INF533 [Blog Posts]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/spetterson/category/inf533/

Shoebridge, P & Simons, M. (2011). Pine Point. Retrieved fromhttp://www.interactivedocumentary.net/2011/03/01/welcome-to-pine-point-2/

Tustin, R. (2016). Bridging the digital divide in education. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/bridging-the-digital-divide-in-education.html

Yang, Z., Yang, H. H., Wu, D., & Liu, S. (2014). Transforming K-12 Classrooms with Digital Technology (pp. 1-409). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-4538-7

ETL401 – Part B Critical Reflection

How my view of the teacher librarian has changed during the subject

During this semester I undertook 3 subjects. You may be asking why this is relevant to a summary of this subject alone. For me the learning done in this semester of study has crossed between subjects. Research for one has lead to ideas in another and vice versa and all have affected my view of the teacher librarian role. Although I think very little has changed of my overview of the role certain aspects have become clearer. Originally on my blog (Petterson, 2016) I defined a TL’s role as information service mangers, a creative force and a learner and leader. These are all still correct and accurate definitions of a TL but through research done for the assignments and my own readings of discussion forum posts and posting myself this knowledge has only increased.

I now see the role of a teacher librarian as much more complex. In my assignment I defined the role of a TL as an acronym (TRAILS) teacher, researcher, advocate, information specialist, librarian and supporter each heading having its own long list of roles and responsibilities. Academics and organisations (ASLA, 2004b;  ALIA,2004; ALIA & ASLA, 2014) produce enormous amounts of information and lists for us to follow, however, I still believe that the role of a TL should be defined by the needs of the school in which they work.

One thing I was not surprised by but rather reminded of is the role of a TL within inquiry learning. Somewhere along the way of my career inquiry learning became something I saw as nearly unachievable. Working in the UK and as a casual mostly I saw very little evidence of best practice and inquiry learning skills being taught in classrooms. This course has encouraged me to use inquiry learning more and to become an advocate for its implementation (ASLA, 2014a). The benefits of teaching students 21st century skills far out weigh the hard work required to begin this journey. (Braxton, 2016)

Another thought that has been struck home is the importance of working with the teachers in our school even if it is one by one. I was fortunate enough to before moving to Dubai work in a school with an amazing librarian. She actively sought out staff and educated them on her role in the school. Which could only be done through the support of our principal. She was given enough room to be independent while also working collaboratively with staff to give students the best tools and information she could. We need to be advocates for our jobs and remind teachers why we are a vital part of the school community.

Finally, although not explicitly taught in this subject I have realized how alone the role of teacher librarian can be. Studying online is a new and confusing concept for me and keeping up with the different means of communication has been challenging especially with the added challenge of 3 subjects I set myself. However, from reading others comments and looking at others blogs we do not have to be alone. Teacher librarians are everywhere on the internet when you know where to look and who to ask for help and advice which is incredibly encouraging for a young aspiring librarian.

References

ASLA. (2014a). Advocacy: reason, responsibility and rhetoric. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/school-library-advocacy.aspx

ASLA. (2004b). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA] & Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Australia Education Union [AEU], ALIA, ASLA. (2014). Joint statement on school libraries and teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/Joint-statement.aspx

Braxton, B. (2016). The presenter’s hat. Retrieved from http://500hats.edublogs.org/2016/08/14/the-presenters-hat/

Petterson, S. (2016, July 27). ETL401- Assessment 1 [blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/spetterson/category/etl401/

INF533 – Topic Proposal Assessment 4

Proposal topic – A blog between two places

Digital tools and spaces to be used – Weebly.com

Rationale –

The concept for this digital story came from the desire to utilise the fact that I am in a different part of the world to many of my friends and family. Being in Dubai I often get asked a lot of questions and to share my different experiences with them. In my years of teaching I’ve seen a variety of schools and classes use technology to communicate and share with other classes in different countries or schools for units of work or over the course of a year, in my experience,533 this has been an engaging and helpful tool for students but is often limited to emails and sometimes web chat.

For this assignment I hope to create two ‘fictional’ blogs, one from the perspective of a character in Dubai and one from an Australian characters perspective as they explore comparisons between their two countries. This could be curriculum specific for the age group, for example, examining a famous person, comparing the environments, discussing their favourite sports or just how different life is. This resource could be used as an example for exploring letter writing in the digital age, to teach about blog creation, and to develop skills in any subject by sharing information and working collaboratively with each other. There are some websites where teachers can find class pen pals and many teachers rely on personal contacts to do the same thing.

The website I aim to create will show the different kinds of content you can use on a blog, video, images, text and comments. Weebly.com offers a fairly simple to use website creator with templates, apps and is tablet compatible for apple and android devices. It operates on a drag and drop basis which all students year 3 and up would be capable of using given some guidance and time to explore.

 

Critical Reflection of Digital Literature Experiences

To me digital literature is similar to multi-modal art, a unique perspective perhaps from my own studies of art throughout my schooling and continuing to pursue it as a hobby. When I look at many examples of interactive digital literature I see the authors as curators of a story or purveyor of information, similar to how an artist seeks to convey meaning through feeling and immersing the viewer in their own imagination, digital texts are becoming a more immersive environment where we no longer need to rely solely on our own imagination. This should not be such a surprise as writing is in its own way an art form using words instead of images. The digital environment lends itself to using a wide variety of modes to convey meaning and why shouldn’t the literature environment take advantage of that.

Firstly, we must decide what a digital text is. To me it is clear that what a text is has changed significantly in the last 50 years from purely written information such as poetry, information reports and novels to something a bit more post modern. That is “a mixing of different artistic styles and media” (Oxford dictionaries, 2016). The Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2016) defines a text as “a means of communication”, by this definition nearly anything can be a text and the same can be said for a digital text, assuming that it is in the digital landscape. When choosing my texts for this assignment to analyse I was of two minds about my second text, SciShow Kids (2015), as to many this would not seem a suitable e-literature example. However, it is by this definition. It is communicating information in the digital space and includes some interactive elements while exhibiting literary features of non-fiction texts. In fact by this definition, games, e-books, apps, artworks, plays, videos, multimodal websites, normal websites, blog posts… and really anything can be an example of digital literature.

So, what makes a good digital text?

In many ways digital texts can be evaluated the same as physical ones. They must still be engaging, durable, have a purpose, have strong content and literary features. However, we must also borrow critique from other fields such as games and art to judge these texts, are they widely available for use, are they simple enough to convey their meaning to the average user, are they interactive and reusable. The best way we can do this is to make comparisons with other texts.

What purpose do these texts have?

Personally I find e-literature uncomfortable and clunky at times but technology continues to develop and change and it is my hope that many of the things I find uncomfortable about e-literature will be refined. Nevertheless these texts have a place and scholars agree (Hahnel et.al, 2016; Davidson, 2009; McDonald, 2013) that we need to be teaching our students how to navigate the digital environment and therefore we need to be teaching them about digital literature. Digital literature requires a slightly different set of decoding skills to print literature (Lamb, 2011) and this is something that needs to be taught explicitly. There are many benefits to using digital texts and many arguments to do so, such as, environmental conservation (Hickman, 2010), ease of access; though debatable, increased engagement and greater interactivity between people reading the texts.

Reading digital texts and print texts can be two very different things. Beginning with standard e-books that are simply scanned versions of the print text it can seem very similar but already we loose a certain amount of nostalgia, tactile enjoyment and often the pleasure of keeping the book on our own shelves to keep forever. There are some benefits to e-books however, they are often cheaper and enhanced e-books allow more interactivity e.g. dictionary functions, hyperlinks. Interactive e-books again offer even more interaction with built in games, animations and videos. Although these things can often be engaging they can sometimes come across as gimmicky and over hyped. (Sadokierski, 2015) E-book creators need to keep in mind their purpose for using these tools and evaluate whether they are in fact useful to the reader. More complex e-literature such as multimodal texts and some interactive e-books can often become confusing and difficult to navigate if not well constructed.

Although much of this may sound negative towards e-books, I think there is great potential for digital literature. To me the biggest concern with digital literature is the lack of unity between publishers and platforms. During this assessment I found it difficult to find free examples, a passion of mine being equity, I like to use free resources where available so that all students can access them. Very few good free examples were available for primary aged students. There are many fabulous examples of free literature for adolescents and adults, for example, Pine Point (2011) and The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (2013). I would like to see publishers and authors exploring many of the same interactive themes and digital spaces explored in children’s literacy and in the free market so that all children can enjoy their wonderful creations. Finally I think we are just beginning to develop these technologies and the freedom the digital space gives us to explore how we as humans communicate and create meaning.

Out of my three resources my favourite was ABC Splash (2012). The accompanying website and solar system guidebook was an amazing piece of interactive gaming, it was easy to use and well put together. It would easily integrate into any classroom in Australia aiming to do a science unit on space. In a library setting this could be used as an example for an online guidebook or for finding non-fiction information and research.

 

References

ABC Splash. (2012). Solar system and space exploration. Retrieved from http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/digibook/618096/solar-system-and-space-exploration

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). English Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

Davidson, C. (2009). Young childrens engagement with literacies in the home: pressing matters for the teaching of english in the early years of schooling. English teaching: Practice and critique. 8, p. 36-54. Retrieved from http://bilby.unilinc.edu.au:1801/view/action/nmets.do?DOCCHOICE=28235.xml&dvs=1472416636266~578&locale=en_US&search_terms=&adjacency=&VIEWER_URL=/view/action/nmets.do?&DELIVERY_RULE_ID=4&usePid1=true&usePid2=true

Green, H & Su, B. (2013). The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Retrieved from http://www.pemberleydigital.com/the-lizzie-bennet-diaries/

Hahnel, C; Goldhammer, F; Naumann, J; Krohne, U. (2015). Effects of linear reading, basic computer skills, evaluating online information and navigation on reading digital text. Computers in human behaviour. 55, p486-500. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0747563215301734

Hickman, L. (2010). Are ebooks greater than paper books?. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/oct/05/ebook-printed-books-kindle-environment

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning & leading with technology, p.12-17. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e92c00cc-8c10-4332-adc8-95b4ff223f9c%40sessionmgr4006&vid=1&hid=4204

McDonald, P. (2013). Teaching digital texts: a multi-modal approach. International proceedings of economics development and research. 62, p22-26. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1522277813?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo

Oxford Dictionaries. (2016). Postmodernism. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/postmodernism

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, Nov 12). What is a book in the digital age? [web log post]. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071

SciShow Kids. (2015). Worms are wonderful. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-zc_1vjLnI&list=PLw2cuKNQvZ2d9b3Wqhu32dkjX28qokaiA&index=26

Shoebridge, P & Simons, M. (2011). Pine Point. Retrieved from http://www.interactivedocumentary.net/2011/03/01/welcome-to-pine-point-2/

ReadingFriend.com – On the trail of the snail from veil

ReadingFriend.com (2016a) is a free website designed to help young children develop their reading skills. It focuses on word families, phonics and engagement to reach this goal. For the purpose of this assignment I will be focusing on ‘On the trail of the snail from veil’ (2012) that can be classified as an enhanced e-book (Fitzgerald, 2016, pp8) due to its basic interactivity. The website is also available though Puffin Web Browser (ReadingFriend.com, 2016a) on both android and apple products.

One of the benefits to the series of enhanced e-books is their simplicity. They have simple animation, clear buttons and writing. The digital affordances are used positively without becoming overpowering and distracting, especially for young users. Although you could argue that the animation is too simple compared to cost and availability they are excellent value. The e-book ‘On the trail of the snail from veil’ (2012) exhibits excellent word choice in its story that highlights and teaches the word family ‘ail’ to an appropriate age level. Each word taught can be read again and is underlined at the end of each page; all the students need to do is tap the word to hear it again. Again one could argue that the story is too simple, but we must remember that these resources aren’t designed for adults to read to children but for the children to interact with mostly on their own. Although students may need help navigating to the website this could easily be avoiding by teaching students to use QR codes on there handheld devices or linking to the individual books from a school website. Another plus of this particular resource is that it has no distracting ads or things for students to click on and be navigated away from the page.

The websites resources easily fit into the Australian English curriculum (ACARA, 2016) and therefore would be a good support in any infants’ classroom for guided reading or independent reading. One of the negatives of this resource however is its lack of motivation for students. Although there are fun noises at the end of pages there is no particular encouragement to finishing the book, no points earned or exciting characters to collect like there are in other paid for programs. For the younger years this can be a large negative for students that find it a bit harder to find the motivation to read.

Users of the website can offer feedback through email, snail mail or phone (ReadingFriend.com, 2016b) but would not be suggested for children. On the Contact us page (ReadingFriend.com, 2016b) it asks for input and suggestions to the creator, which is a fantastic tool for teachers in networking, offering support and gratitude for such an amazing resource. It is important to note that similar resources exist on paid sites and applications that are perhaps of higher quality or offer more teacher support but we must remember that this is a free website that enables students and teachers to use it all around the world.

To conclude, this resource is a fair example of enhanced e-books and one that could easily be integrated into infants classrooms around the world. The website offers a range of books designed specifically to teach word families and provides extra activities such as games and colouring in pages for students to continue there learning and practice. Overall this is a good resource though not the most detailed example or highly designed. It is simple but practical.

4/5 Stars

References

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). English Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

Fitzgerald, L. (2016). INF533, Online Meeting 1 [PowerPoint slides]. NSW Australia: Charles Sturt University, School of Information Studies.

ReadingFriend.com. (2012). On the trail of the snail from veil. Retrieved from http://www.readingfriend.com/content_player.php?id=700&int=1#.V8GHW5N96Ru

ReadingFriend.com. (2016a). Index. Retrieved from http://www.readingfriend.com/index.php

ReadingFriend.com. (2016b). Contact us. Retrieved from http://readingfriend.com/Contact_Us.php

SciShow Kids – Worms are Wonderful

SciShow Kids is a spin off of an adult science video series SciShow created by Hank Green; one half of the popular Youtube group VlogBrothers (Wikipedia, 2016). It is hard to define what kind of digital literature this is and could be considered a controversial choice, depending on your definition of digital literature. However, it still hosts an example of text features such as diagrams, a clear information report (if auditory rather than written) structure and connected websites. I could classify this as transmedia/hyperlink text. For this assessment I will be focusing on the ‘Worms are Wonderful’ (2015) video and its connected hyperlinks (BioKIDS, 2016; Journey North, 2016; Animal Corner, 2016).

There are many positive aspects to this text. To begin with the content is superbly produced in a clear and engaging manner, using excited tone, clear diagrams and animations, continuity with other videos and well supported referenced material. The video hits its target audience, infants and primary students, with the right amount of enthusiasm and humor while still maintaining clearly delivered information. Although this is an American produced resource it has strong links with the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2016). Positively, the series is free and accessible worldwide, though asks for support through their Patreon account.

The attached websites to the video, both used as references and avenues for further information. Provide some interactive features such as definitions of difficult words when clicked and hyperlinks to further information. They are an excellent resource for students to continue to explore information about the topic. (BioKIDS, 2016; Journey North, 2016; Animal Corner, 2016)

Negatively the singular video is a one hit wonder, watching it more than once would become tedious to most students, excepting revision. Although the hyperlinks provided are an avenue for further investigation and reading younger students would struggle to find their way to them, as they are not easily accessible on all platforms (particularly Ipods). Another negative is the lack of interaction, although with Youtube comments a discussion can occur below the video it is not a particularly school friendly resource in that regard. However, the video does encourage students to interact with the web series by emailing in their own suggestions for future videos, which would be a good discussion starter in the classroom.

This is not a resource that pushes the boundaries of digital literature but rather a good example of where digital literature developed from and a resource that could easily be incorporated into a larger transmedia website, something I personally would love SciShow to do. It still exhibits clear text features and is built in the digital environment. It is designed for use with an adult and as a result would be a little difficult for younger students to navigate on his or her own. It is a resource that students themselves could explore making on a similar topic and integrate into a larger assessment or unit of work.

To conclude, though this resource is controversial (see critical reflection), it is a good example of simple but effective digital literature. It is engaging, simple and aligned with the curriculum.

3/5 Stars

References

Animal Corner. (2016). Worms. Retrieved from https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/worms/

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). Science Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/science/curriculum/f-10?layout=1#level5

BioKIDS. (2016). Oligochaeta. Retrieved from http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Oligochaeta/

Journey North. (2016). Earth worms FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/WormNotes3.html

SciShow Kids. (2015). Worms are wonderful. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-zc_1vjLnI&list=PLw2cuKNQvZ2d9b3Wqhu32dkjX28qokaiA&index=26

Wikipedia. (2016, July 4). SciShow. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SciShow