Experiencing Digital Literature- My Reviews

Assignment 4 for #INF533 called for three reviews that consider the dynamic formats of digital literature. I recently blogged about my choices for the assignment and here are the reviews…(the Titanic one was my favourite…oh how I do love Twitter!).


A Story Before Bed- Google HangoutA Story Before Bed- Google Hangout by Various

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

The Google+ Hangout App- ‘A Story Before Bed’ allows multiple users to read a story online together in real time. The app provides a variety of what would be defined as electronically augmented, linear narrative texts or ‘linear e-narratives’ (Unsworth, 2006). Electronically augmented texts digitised in this way enables the original design, illustrations, font and double spread layout of the texts to be retained (Yokota & Teale, 2014). Unsworth (2006) notes the different experience created for the reader when read online.

The use of Google+ Hangouts, a form of social media, to read the text creates a collaborative reading experience, allowing for interchanging response and interaction throughout the reading (Walsh, 2013). Being able to discuss the text in a shared reading experience, not bound by geographic location, created an enriching reading experience. This opportunity for connecting and collaborating is noted in ‘Digital Learning Through Google Hangouts’ (Alexander, Harwood & Eguia 2014), providing an authentic experience delivered with excitement and enthusiasm.

The affordances of reading the text over Hangouts provides opportunities for all readers involved to collaborate, communicate, build relationships and think critically (Alexander, Harwood & Eguia 2014)- again not bound by their geographic location but facilitating global availability and access (Yokota & Teale, 2014). This experience provides tremendous opportunities for the classroom environment. Students and teachers all over the world can use the app as a springboard for further learning developing authenticity through the use of blogs, wikis and other tools, dramatically developing and enhancing a connected, collaborative and creative learning environment (Haebig & Lawrence 2013).

The intrinsic motivation for reading is apparent through the opinions of an eight-year-old user “Most kids don’t get to use technology for reading”. The digital text shared through social media creates an environment that imitates a real life, face to face experience (Haebig & Lawrence, 2013). Today, people thrive on opportunities to interact with each other, whether that be in a face to face experience or driven by digital technologies and social media. Understanding this is a priority when creating social reading experiences for students (Ferriter, 2010). Reading in this way combines both traditional shared reading experiences and interaction through the internet (Warner, 2013). The visual affordances of ‘A Story Before Bed’ can draw the reader’s attention to illustrations and print, manifesting a more ‘real’ and memorable experience (Verhallen & Bus, 2012).

Most of the texts available through this free Google+ Hangout app are early readers, most suited to Pre-K – K emergent readers. Some texts are suitable for older readers, but this could be improved. Not being able to zoom in on the text also caused difficult reading in some parts, as the text can be quite small- needing to stop and focus on figuring the word out, interrupting the narrative flow. A key future recommendation for this digital reading experience would be to make the book viewable on screen when conducting a Hangout on Air- being able to share the experience with a wider audience and improve the reusability and access. The need for good internet connection is paramount to enjoy the reading experience without connectivity issues as well as reading where there is limited background noise to eliminate interruptions (Alexander, Harwood & Eguia 2014).

The Google+ Hangout app ‘A Story Before Bed’ provides users with a positive reading experience, Walsh (2013) describes the idea that literature in the hands of its readers and the web blends books, their stories and reader response and interaction. This most certainly is the case with ‘A Story Before Bed’.


Alexander, B., Harwood, H. & Eguia, M. (2014). Digital Learning Through Google Hangouts. In M. Searson & M. Ochoa (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2014 (pp. 2706-2709). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/131198.

Ferriter, W. M. (2010). Can’t Get Kids to Read? Make It Social. Educational Leadership, 67(6), 87. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educ…

Haebig, C., & Lawrence, D. (2013). ‘Hangout’ with your students using Google.Learning & Leading with Technology,41(4), 26+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GA…

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).https://www.csu.edu.au/division/libra…

Unsworth, L. (2006). Learning through web contexts of book-based literary narratives (Ch. 3). In E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge. http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRec…

Verhallen M. J. A., & Bus A. G. (2012). Beneficial effects of illustrations in picture storybooks for storing and retaining story text. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading,Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Warner, M. (2013). Welcome to the Hybrid Age of Reading. Retrieved from http://www.christianfutures.com/welco…

Yokota, J. & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world: educators making informed choices. The Reading Teacher, 34(6). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3886534/Pictu…


Sherlock: Interactive AdventureSherlock: Interactive Adventure by LLC Haab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

‘Sherlock: Interactive Adventure’ shares one of Sherlock’s most famous adventures, The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle. The ‘Interactive eBook’ (Itzkovitch, 2014) app, available on iOS for iPad and iPhone (12+ age recommendation) utilises multiple functions of the device, includes interactive animations and allows readers to directly interact with the storyline, going far beyond words and images on a static page (Koss, 2013), all while accurately reproducing the original story.

The text maintains narrative flow encompassing multimedia elements and interactivity, essential to the digital environment (Sargent, 2013). When held in portrait position the page shows the story text accompanied by a moving 3D image. As the reader scrolls through the text the image changes, as does the music to harmonise the mood and feel of the section. The swinging, panoramic-like camera allows the reader to view images from different perspectives and use the interactive magnifying glass, bringing the book to life by viewing images in different perspectives (Koss, 2013).


The presentation of the text is designed to provide the reader with an authentic experience; the recreated maps and images were based on original paintings and photographs to maintain the historical accuracy of the Victorian Age (HAAB Entertainment, 2013). When held in the landscape position the story comes alive with award-winning narration by Simon Vance, entertaining, fluent reading that captivates the reader, an important element noted by Bird (2011). The narration is charming and mesmerising juxtaposed against the text, a feature described by Hancox (2013) in reviewing digital books. This is accompanied by music and sound effects, which at times can distract when reading the text- but is customisable, allowing the reader to turn on / off, adjust the volume as well as the text size. An added feature is the availability of the text and narration in different languages- an enriching experience to extend language learning (Bird, 2011).



As the app calls for direct interaction with the text, the reader becomes intrinsically motivated by becoming actively involved with the storyline by helping to ‘solve the case’. The interactive map portrays real life locations of 19th century London, and changes to show the reader’s ‘location’ throughout the text. Being able to collect items and refer to the dossier extends the reading experience, enabling the reader to feel as though they are actually a part of the text. This results in the context of the story being elaborated throughout reading as the reader can access information about the characters and story setting (Unsworth, 2006).


The curriculum foci could cover a myriad of disciplines- reading comprehension, writing skills, developing curiosity or problem solving . As students interact with the story they are required to think critically and develop their own inquiry, a key requisite in case-based learning where learners predict, build knowledge, reason effectively and adjust their understandings given new information (Kolodner, 1993).

The importance of quality writing, content and multimedia is described by Ishizuka (2011)- each element encourages ‘replayability’ and as a result, Sherlock- Interactive Adventure creates an accessible and enjoyable reading experience.


Bird, E. (2011). Planet app: Kids’ book apps are everywhere. but are they any good? School Library Journal, 57(1), 26-31. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/88…

HAAB Entertainment. (2013). Sherlock: Interactive Adventure. Project Overview. Retrieved http://www.unreal-books.us/en/about/

Hancox, D. (2013). When Books Go Digital: The Kills and the Future of the Novel. Retrieved http://theconversation.com/when-books…

Ishizuka, K. (2011). The APP squad: making sense of book apps for kids-with a little help from our friends.School Library Journal,57(5), 38+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GA…

Itzkovitch, A. (2012). Interactive eBook Apps: The Reinvention of Reading and Interactivity. Retrieved http://uxmag.com/articles/interactive…

Kolodner, J. L. (1993).Case-based learning. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Koss, M. D. (2013). Digital children’s book apps: bringing children’s literature to life in new and exciting ways.Reading Today,31(3), 26+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GA…

Sargeant, E 2013, ‘Interactive storytelling: How picture book conventions inform multimedia book app narratives’, Australian Journal of Intelligent Information Processing Systems, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 29-35. Retrieved from http://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/…

Unsworth, L. (2006). Learning through web contexts of book-based literary narratives (Ch. 3). In E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge. http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRec…

TitanicVoyage @TitanicRealTimeTitanicVoyage @TitanicRealTime by The History Press

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

Titanic Voyage (@TitanicRealTime) is a historical retelling of the Titanic story. As Tweets are delivered, the reader hears ‘first-hand’ stories from the perspectives of the captain, passengers from first, second and third class, rescue boats, engineers and crew. The feed allows the reader to engage in a ‘real time’ feel for the disaster.

A highlight of this unique form of digital literature is the mixture of first person historical Tweets, creating empathy and a personal connection for the reader. When juxtaposed with the short sharp facts delivered in images and infographics attached to Tweets the readers understanding of the context is enriched. Infographics are becoming a common feature used in a variety of digital media, allowing information to be presented in different a format to communicate (Davis & Quinn, 2013). These images and graphics also remind the reader of the true nature of what they are engaged in reading.



The nature of Twitter’s micro-blogging brevity appeals to modern readers (Moore, 2009). The short, sharp Tweets of @TwitterVoyage, soaked in antiquity and insight create a vicarious reading experience, the result as described by Davis (2008) can become oddly poetic both visually and conceptually. The use of hashtags to portray the point of view in the text, is powerful, allowing the reader to adjust their reading to the context. The affordances of historical images attached to Tweets intermittently throughout the stream adds insight for the reader, adding to the experience as if it were actually in real time. The use of images adds essence to the text and is not over used- a key point made by Bircher (2012), highlighting that images and any other interactive elements should not distract from the experience.

This modern take on a historical event is captivating from the very first Tweet sent on the 9th of March-


As the Tweets stream in, hooking the reader and leaving them wanting more. This intrinsic motivation to reading is noted by Fitzgerald (2013) in Adventures in Twitter Fiction, traditionally a reader controls how fast they move through a text, but with the affordances of Twitter, the text is initially created bit by bit, creating suspense as the reader waits for the next line.

Creating a column in Tweetdeck allows for an easy reading experience- however when wanting to read again after the initial Tweets have been sent- the Tweets are in reverse chronological order, making it frustrating to scroll through and find the beginning. Reading it after the live stream, also diminishes the suspense created initially.

The social nature of the text allows for audience interaction, Davis (2008), points out that the social aspect of reading is continuing to evolve. The use of the Twitter stream extends the text through reader interaction (Skaines, 2010)-



There are many ways in which educators can use this text to support curriculum concepts, compare / contrast- social equality, social history, historical recounts, analysing Tweets from engineers or developing a wider understanding of literature in digital environments.

The Twitter feed produced by The History Press aims to bring the reader back in time maintaining traditional language features. Although confined to 140 characters or less per Tweet, the feed maintains dialogue reminiscent of the early 1900’s- blending the old with the new, given the social networking format. Notably, reading a historical recount through a Twitter stream is a modern take on more traditional books and non-fiction texts. The short-burst Tweets of first person dialogue highlight the richness of prose, this mashup of ‘old world’ language being delivered in Tweets is noted by Davis (2008) in Twittered Texts, “there’s something to be said for the meeting of classical print and digital media”.


Fitzgerald, A. (2013, October). Adventures in Twitter fiction | Video on TED.com [Video file]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_fitzg…

Davis, M., & Quinn, D. (2013). Visualizing text: the new literacy of infographics. Reading Today,31(3), 16+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GA…

Davis, O. (2008). Twittered Texts. Meanjin, Vol. 67, No. 4. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy…

Moore, M. (2009). Twitter: Great works of literature shortened into tweets. Retrieved from

Skaines, R.L. (2010). The shifting author-reader dynamic: online novel communities as a bridge from print to digital literature. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 95–111 DOI: 10.1177/1354856509347713. Retrieved from http://con.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.ed…

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