Part B: Critical Reflection of Digital Literature Experiences

Digital Texts

What makes a good digital text?

Within each of my reviews (50 Below Zero, Green Gables Fables, and 80 Days) I referred to the qualities of good literature as identified by Walsh (2013) and Yokota and Teale (2014). The key points of analysis of a digital text become how it engages the reader (Walsh, 2013) and how the reading experience is enhanced (Yokota and Teale, 2014).

A good digital text can mean different things to different reader groups. As Walsh (2013) comments, young readers require texts with solid narrative structure and a variety of vocabulary, whereas older readers need complex plots and characters for analysis. Yokota and Teale identify 3 questions which form the basis of their criteria, which are integrated into my reviews.

Through exploration of different types of digital literature, the application of these criteria have been observed in different ways. What is obvious throughout this exploration is that the digital elements used must add to the story and the reader’s experience.

What counts as a digital text?

A digital narrative is a story which has been designed and created specifically for viewing on a digital device. Unsworth (2006) and Lamb (2011) have similar points of view on what digital literature is.

According to Unsworth (2006), digital texts fall into three categories:

  • Digitally augmented
  • Digitally re-contextualised
  • Digitally originated

Lamb’s (2011) labels of eBooks, enhanced eBooks, and interactive storybooks fall into Unsworth’s (2006) final category. These are texts which are born digital and have no hardcopy format.

The important factor when identifying if a text would be considered digital literature would be to consider its origins and current format. There are many types of digital literature already, and there will be more to come.

What purpose do digital texts serve?

Digital texts can serve to increase access to reading material and opportunities to increase literacy and explore different formats of text.

Walsh (2013) highlights the world outside the books through discussion forums, author websites, research into books, and hyperlinks within texts. All these can help to engage students who might not necessarily be readers. Through digital texts, readers can use text to speech, hyperlinks, music, and interactive features to assist with comprehension. Students can incorporate the multimodal elements to become active participants in reading.

Experience Comparison

I am a print reader. I like the feel of a paper book in my hands, being able to flick back and forth as I make a connection to something earlier in the text, being able to see how much I have read versus how much still to go, I like the smell of a well-loved book, and looking at texts displayed on a bookcase. I think I will always prefer a printed book.

Jabr (2013) and Cull (2011) discuss some impacts of digital learning, and my experiences studying online suggest similarly that comprehension is impacted through reading course material on screen. Printing readings to highlight relevant facts by hand and copy notes from the screen is still beneficial.

While exploring various digital texts for this task, the ones I enjoyed the most were those which were most like print books (eg. your standard print to digital eBook). Except for the texts chosen for review, which were enticing because of the story they tell.

Contrary to several opinions (Walsh, and Skains), exploring Inanimate Alice as part of the semester content was not a pleasurable experience. As a digitally created text it contains many features which make it quality digital literature, including music, moving images and interactivity. But I found the whole experience quite distracting. It was difficult to focus on the actual text and take it all in. In contrast, 80 Days as a game-based narrative also included these elements but to a more subdued level, which enabled a high level of focus on the story being told.

Opinion and Application

The digital text I most enjoyed was the enhanced book Green Gables Fables. This text is a vlog adaptation of the story Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. It highlights issues and themes from the original text and places them into a 21st century setting.

Green Gables Fables could be implemented into the Australian Curriculum English (literature strand) or Media Arts (or as a cross-curriculum topic). In English the videos could be used as part of a text study; and in Media Arts, as an example of script writing, filming and editing skills.

Due to the short nature (4-5 minutes) of each episode it would be possible to watch a selection of episodes within class time. Activities which could be undertaken include:

  • Making a comparison between issues and themes in the videos and their own experiences;
  • Analysing the vlog for narrative and language elements;
  • Comparing vlog to original text;
  • Analysing the vlog for media elements;
  • Creating their own vlog based on a book they are interested in;

By incorporating a different style of text into English (enhanced book, as opposed to book), a wider range of students may engage in the text and the activities. Incorporating a creative task, such as making a vlog, empowers students in their learning; they become ‘active knowledge developers’ (Hur & Sub, 2012, p.324). In addition, students are developing new skills for the future.

New digital texts and digital adaptations of old texts are on the rise. It is necessary to stay abreast of developments and be critical of digital text choices for use in the classroom.

References

AnneWithAnE. (2013, August 9). AnneWithAnE. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/user/greengablesfables/videos

BradField Company. (2019) Inanimate Alice. Retrieved from https://inanimatealice.com/

Cull, B. (2011, June 6). Reading revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in academe. First Monday 16(6). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3340/2985

Hur, J. & Suh, S. (2012). Making learning active with interactive whiteboards, podcasts, and digital storytelling in ELL classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 29(4), 320-338. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2012.734275

Ingold, J. & Humfrey, J. (2014). 80 Days [Mobile application]. Cambridge: inkle.

Jabr, F. (2013, April 11). The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from http://www.learningandleading-digital.com/learningandleading

Skains, RL. (2010). The shifting author-reader dynamic. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 95-111. doi: 10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). Retrieved from https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf

Yokota, J. & Teale, WH. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577-585. doi: 10.1002.trtr1262

Review 3: 80 Days

80 Days by Inkle books is an interactive book based on the text Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. It comes in a downloadable app format, for iOS, Android and PC. It incorporates fully interactive animations and harnesses the challenge of completing a round the world trip in 80 days. The application is rated M on the GooglePlay store, as such the age recommendation for this interactive book should be 15+ years. The quality of the content is high with interactive activities in each city, route planning and conversation. There is potential for this text to be used in the Geography or English curriculum.

80 Days harnesses the excitement of a choose your own adventure in an interactive app. There are many digital affordances and features which have been integrated into the storyline. At certain points of the text the user, playing as Mr Fogg’s valet – Passepartout, make choices regarding the next phrase of text, which impacts future options and potentially your standing in Mr Fogg’s eyes. The user interacts with a world globe to identify the next leg of the journey. They are also in control of finances and explore the bank to ask for a loan, or the market to buy and sell possessions. It is possible to see the routes which some other players are making in real time, although there is no interaction with them.

The app is presented in a clear and consistent format. All cities and scene changes use the same colours (mainly black, grey and white), images and font. While there are no clear instructions, how to guides or tutorials provided at the beginning of the game, most of the icons make it clear what their purpose is. Around the World in 80 Days is the basis of this text-based game. However, the focus of this app is more about the journey and end goal than the original story. As an app, the interactive book fits the screen of the device to the correct proportions in either landscape or portrait mode. While text appears on screen to help progress the game, creative license has been taken with the content and context. There is also no narration of the on-screen text.

As a game based on a written text, it may be best if the user has a general understanding of the original work. Without this, the pretence of the app, or the significance of places or objects may be lost on the user. However, use of the interactive book may encourage someone to seek out the original work to read. The interactive book can be enjoyed with or without the prior knowledge of the text.

The app is designed for user interaction with the storyline which provides a different experience each time it is played, as different choices are made (Itzkovitch, 2012). Kelly (2015) agrees with this as he highlights the replay-ability of the game due to the number of different routes around the world which can be taken. User intuition is a necessity to interpret comments from non-playable-characters for efficient actions.

An M rating limits the audience of the app. It is not clear why this rating was given, but through exploration, this reviewer has not identified any elements which warrant this. There is a one-off cost associated with the download. The version reviewed (Android) was $5.99. Being sold as a premium game is in contrast to current trends, where free app downloads, which utilise in-app purchases, are on the rise (Miller, 2018).

The integrity of the original text within this format is questionable. Artistic license is taken relating to conversations, travel routes, transport options, and the new Victorian steampunk setting. However, despite these additions, this reviewer agrees with Jayanth (2014), that the premise of this interactive text is accurate to the original. The digital features integrate narrative text, of a similar tone to Jules Verne, into the game environment seamlessly and encourage user participation through moments of choice in text direction and actions.

Elements of quality literature within this text include the need to consider various issues in making travel decisions, and the tone and vocabulary used. The user is guided to make decisions which will benefit Mr Fogg and their journey. There are consequences if poor decisions are made, such as Mr Fogg losing too much health, running out of money or taking too long to complete the journey. The tone used throughout the new text is similar to the 1871 original and created using similar language features.

80 Days is an interesting and engaging interactive book. It uses the digital environment to put a classic story in the hands of those more inclined towards apps and games. The main elements of the original text can be found within the app, along with multiple opportunities for user interaction. Overall, this text included a good amount of classical content while becoming updated for a different type of audience.

Ingold, J. & Humfrey, J. (2014). 80 Days [Mobile application]. Cambridge: inkle.

inkleStudios. (2014, May 14). Introducing 80 days [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/leHaJNhBn1M\

inkle Ltd. (2019). 80 Days. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.inkle.eightydays&hl=en_AU

Itzkovitch, A. (2012, April 12). Interactive eBook Apps: The reinvention of reading and interactivity. UX Magazine. Retrieved from https://uxmag.com/articles/interactive-ebook-apps-the-reinvention-of-reading-and-interactivity

Jayanth, M. (2014, May 8). Verne and Victorian Futurism [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.inklestudios.com/2014/05/08/victorian-futurism.html

Kelly, A. (2015, October 13). 80 days review. PC Gamer. Retrieved from https://www.pcgamer.com/au/80-days-review/

Miller, G. (2018, December 10). How the rise of in-app purchases is influencing the mobile gaming industry [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://gamblingaffiliatevoice.com/news/how-the-rise-of-in-app-purchases-is-influencing-the-mobile-gaming-industry/?fbclid=IwAR3KFS6Ydmsu1S0l-6kXBaqEQSTi7CULsaw3LlUBGu2QkcN1htSJxlZ-1C8

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). Retrieved from https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf

Review 2: Green Gables Fables

Green Gables Fables, directed by Mandy Harmon and Marie Trotter, is an enhanced book in the form of a video diary (vlog). It follows the storyline and characters of the first three books of the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. This adaptation provides a modern day take on the storyline of the original, including reference to social media platforms, and altering the age of the character and context of events to engage a 21st century teenage audience. The content is of good quality and the personality of Anne is clearly demonstrated in line with the description from the original text. This enhanced book would suit an audience 12+, and could be used as the basis for a novel assignment in English.

Green Gables Fables uses video and web technology to highlight and represent the main aspects of the original text. The videos are designed to not distract the viewer from the story being told, with basic and consistent setting, and minimal eye-catching elements. References are made throughout the videos to social media platform use and their pitfalls. When the videos were in production, social media accounts for the main characters were also active. This provided an extension of the story in a different online format, and a way for viewers to connect with characters. Kearney’s (2011) description of digital storytelling is highlighted in this adaptation through the creation of vlogs with the inclusion of music, video, narrators voice and emotional content.

These videos use the modern period to tell a classic tale. The modernity of the text is seen through elements of modern language, clothing, and setting. The design and format of the video diaries is consistent across episodes, which helps create continuity through the story. This adaptation into a video diary suits the Anne of Green Gables story well, as a majority of the original books is Anne’s internal monologue.

As described by Wise (2017), stories need a beginning, middle and end, and should be thought provoking. Episodes of Green Gables Fables have clearly identified snippets of the original story which can be condensed and told with a beginning, middle and end within 5 minutes. Like the original text, they leave you thinking about what Anne is going to do next.

The production of the video is well created. The quality of the videos varies from 480p (standard) to 1080p (high definition) depending on the video. Fairclough’s (2018) comments highlight considering the screening platform to determine a suitable filming resolution. Due to the viewing format (YouTube) the low quality of video does not make a big difference in viewing presentation.

These videos are easily accessible and reusable. They are freely available via YouTube, so anyone with an adequate internet connection can view the videos. The production of videos has ended, so the social media accounts for characters are no longer updated, but still accessible. With 4-5 minute episodes, they are easily integrated into a classroom environment for discussion or as the basis of a creative or analytical task. The videos could also be shared with others online. The length also a means that viewers are more likely to be able to watch an entire episode without getting distracted.

Welsh (2014) highlights the ability of video adaptations to take a fresh look on the themes of the original. Hanson (2017) agrees that this vlog maintains the integrity of the storyline. There are a few minor changes to the context of the story: it is now set in the 21st century (not the 1900s), Anne is 17 (not 11), and digital tools and social media are referred to. Despite these changes to keep the story engaging and relevant to modern viewers, the key concepts and issues of the story are still explored.

Elements of quality literature are evident within Green Gables Fables. The series was filmed and uploaded sequentially, with each episode labelled for the viewer to follow the progression. However, it is possible to watch the videos out of order. They are individual, self-contained videos exploring one aspect of the story’s plot/themes. Throughout the enhanced book the viewer can explore the main themes of the original text, including love, acceptance, bullying, friendship, and grief. Through Anne’s description of events, there is opportunity for the viewer to connect with aspects of the storyline and empathise with her. The portrayal of Anne in the diaries is very dramatic and through use of descriptive language she can create vivid images in the viewer’s mind’s eye. The vocabulary used is extensive, and true to the original text in parts. The interweaving of modern and original text lends itself to the authenticity of the video diaries.

Green Gables Fables is a well created online adaptation of the series by LM Montgomery. It highlights themes, language and events from the original texts and adds a 21st century twist. Elements of quality literature are evident throughout along with seamless inclusion of digital affordances. It would appeal to fans of Anne of Green Gables and those new to the story.

References

AnneWithAnE. (2013, August 9). AnneWithAnE. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/user/greengablesfables/videos

Fairclough, S. (2018, July 29). What resolution should I use for shooting video? Camera Jabber. Retrieved from https://camerajabber.com/what-resolution-should-i-use-for-shooting-video/

Hansen, H. (2017, March 29). 7 YouTube vlogs that every literature lover should watch [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.hercampus.com/school/illinois-state/7-youtube-vlogs-every-literature-lover-should-watch

Kearney, M. (2011). A learning design for student-generated digital storytelling. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(2), 169-188. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2011.553623

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). Retrieved from https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf

Welsh, K. (2015, January 13). The best vlog reinventions of classic books. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jan/12/vlog-classic-novels-zoella-jane-austen

Wise, L. (2017, May 30). What makes a great video? Lynda.com. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/Business-tutorials/What-makes-great-video/578089/618295-4.html

Review 1: 50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch

50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch is an eBook with an engaging storyline for children. The edition read for this review is available through the South Australian Public Library Network. The story uses repetitive elements to encourage reader participation, and harnesses suspense to keep the reader interested. 50 Below Zero could be used for English class to discuss the narrative format, and specific elements of storytelling. The recommended age group for this text is 5-10 years.

Guernsey (2011) highlights the need to for digital features to improve comprehension and engagement with the text. In the creation of this eBook version, Munsch took the opportunity to record his narration of the text and include background music and sound effects. The music is relevant to the content of the story and adds suspense and action to keep the story engaging. Munsch’s narration keeps the story moving. As the writer, he knows exactly what interpretation of the text he intended. As such, his narration includes changes to speed, voice and volume. In addition, the text is highlighted in red lettering as Munsch reads, this allows readers to follow along. These enhancements are optional extras. It is still possible to read the text as a simple reproduction of print. There is no additional interactive features, animations or videos included; therefore I am assessing this text as an eBook.

50 Below Zero uses the print text as its basis, as such, the layout of the eBook format follows the same design as the print format. A double page spread on the screen shows an illustration on one half of the page and text on the other half of the page. This is a common layout for picture books. The double page spread view will change proportionally dependent on the size of the device screen for viewing. Martinez & Harmon (2012) recognise the connection that illustration and text have with each other to build understanding. This is important, as without viewing image and text side by side, some interpretation and understanding for younger readers may be lost. When viewed on a smart phone held landscape, the double page can be seen, however, when held portrait, only a single page is accessible at a time.

This edition is easily accessible for free to South Australian Public Library Network patrons through Libby by OverDrive. Other editions are also available for Kindle and digital download, and may incur a small cost. The read aloud feature of this text makes it easily accessible to readers of all ages and abilities. 50 Below Zero uses literary elements to maintain reader interest. This includes character development, interesting plot, setting, point of view and tone (Martinez & Harmon, 2012). In addition, the literary device of repetition is used throughout the story. Students will begin to anticipate the repetitive content and be able to read along with the text.

The integrity of the story is not lost through the transition to a digital environment. The eBook is a direct reproduction of the physical book. The additional features in this eBook (narration and sound effects) do not detract from the story line. The music provides an indication of how the reader might be feeling during the story and helps them to get into the main character (Jason’s) mindset.

50 Below Zero contains elements of quality literature, including the progression of the story in a sequential manner, a realistic setting (for those who experience extreme cold temperatures), empathetic or humorous response, and opportunities for questioning and creative tasks. Munsch (2019) describes varying reactions to this story: those who have not experienced extreme cold think it is funny, those who have react with empathy. Questioning examples include ‘what would you do if you were Jason?’, and for creativity, ‘where will he end up next?’

50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch is an eBook replication of the printed text. There are some additional features which add to the eBook’s readability and longevity. This text exhibits traits of quality literature through empathy, language used, and problem-solving opportunities. 50 Below Zero would be a good inclusion to a classroom library to support literacy learning.

References

Guernsey, L. (2011). Are ebooks any good? School Library Journal, 57(6), 28-32. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/

Martinez, M. & Harmon, J. (2012). Picture/text relationships: An investigation of literary elements in picturebooks. Literacy Research and Instruction, 51, 323-343. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2012.695856

Munsch, R. (1986). 50 below zero [Libby edition]. Available from https://onecard.network

Munsch, R. (2019). The Official Website of Robert Munsch. Retrieved from https://robertmunsch.com/book/50-below-zero

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). Retrieved from https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf

Digital Narratives: A Beginning

Context

As a Teacher-Librarian it is important for me to explore different types of literature and the what they can bring to teaching and learning. I am looking to develop my understanding of digital narratives and how they can be used in a classroom environment. Personally, I mainly use print texts, I prefer the tactile sensation and being able to flick backwards and forwards with ease. The South Australian Public Library Network provides access to eBooks and digital magazines, as such I have started using them when the text is more readily available this way.

Concepts and Practices

I find the transformation from printing press to digital publication quite interesting, and the speed at which the transitions have been happening is amazing. I think that the key point from Module 1.1 is that, as educators, we need to stay on top of developments in technology and learn how to integrate them successfully into teaching and learning programs. In order to keep 21st Century students engaged in their learning, resources need to be provided which they can interact with and follow a path of interest for themselves. It is important for teachers to assess the digital tools being used to ensure that they are adding value to lessons.

I had not previously considered there being different types of digital literature. As Walsh discusses they can range from eBooks to electronic game narratives. Digital literature use in classrooms depends on the level of ICT embedded there. As mentioned in Learning 2030: From Books to Screen, students can tell the difference between light and fluffy tasks and those with deep meaning. Students are more likely to engage deeper with tasks where they can see the potential of what they are learning and the tools they are using. Identifying the right type of digital literature for your audience is a key point in evaluating the literature that is used, and maintaining student engagement.

I think digital literature in classrooms has a range of benefits – it allows students access to textbooks and novels without having to physically carry a book, it allows access to a wider range of texts than might be available within a library, allows access to materials which support understanding and engagement of the text – for example embedded weblinks for definitions or further explanations, interactive maps related to the character’s story. These additions can help students connect with content and relate to the characters.

The premise of Leu, Forzani, Timbrell & Maykel’s paper resonated with me, that teaching online reading and learning is necessary for student who will be finding more and more information in digital formats. They highlight four skills for online research and comprehension: Reading to locate information, reading to critically evaluate information, reading to synthesise information, and reading and writing to communicate information. With my TL hat on, there are strong connections between these 4 areas and Inquiry/Information Literacy skills, which are a necessity for 21st Century learners.

I am looking forward to expanding my understanding of the types and uses of digital narratives available.

 

References

The Agenda with Steve Paikin. (2013, October 4). Learning 2030: From books to screen [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/215NPpHsQPk

Garrison, K. (2019). INF533, Module 1.1, Gutenberg to Kindle [Course notes]. Retrieved from Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University, LMS web site: https://interact2.csu.edu.au

Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Timbrell, N., Maykel, C. (2015). Seeing the forest, not the trees. The Reading Teacher, 69(2), pp.139-145. doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1002/trtr.1406

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp.181-194). Marrackville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia. https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf

Initial Thoughts on TL Leadership

Beginning my journey into learning about leadership of the Teacher-Librarian I am interested in finding out about different leadership styles and what suits my personality and way of working best. I understand that often TLs are leading from the middle to implement changes with classes and teachers and filtering change upwards through faculty leadership towards the principal.

From ETL401 I learnt about advocacy and identifying ways to help other members of the school team by finding something the TL can do to support the goals of others. I think this is a form of leadership which would be particularly useful when dealing with Principals and higher leadership, and those who are resistant to change.

I am looking forward to this topic and developing my understanding of leadership and how it can be applied by a TL. I am also keen to work through the case study scenario. I have only worked in two person teams before, with good group dynamics. The case studies will be valuable for identifying ways of working with people in different roles and with a range of personalities.

Part B: Critical Reflection INF530

My views, knowledge and understandings of an education professional in digital environments has developed over the course of this subject. I was hoping to better understand digital technologies which could be used to broaden student learning experiences and collaborative opportunities. This subject has given me some insight into this area, but I am not confident with my application of this knowledge at this time.

Module 1.3: Trends in Technology highlighted the various skills for the 2020 workforces, and the idea of a Global One Room Schoolhouse by John Seely Brown.

The ideas posed in Future Work Skills 2020 showed the importance of 21st Century graduates possessing a wide skill set. I found these ideas interesting and saw connections of the key skills to some of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities and Cross-Curriculum Priorities. To ensure my students can become effective and efficient workers, I now feel more confident to incorporate the General Capabilities and Cross-Curriculum Priorities more explicitly into my classes.

The ‘Global One Room Schoolhouse’ is associated with the idea of connected learning through social or collaborative tools. From the video, I considered the potential of this type of learning to connect with experts in different fields and across the globe. I would like to try incorporating Skype meetings to engage students in first-hand commentary from professionals in fields of study.

Module 1.4 introduces Helen Haste’s concept of Problem Solver vs Tool User. She discusses how the tools we have available change how we approach a problem. I considered that problem solvers were tool users, just using a wider range of tools. To apply this understanding, I would have my students consider the tools and skills they have available to them and how they could be used to solve a problem or information need. In doing so, my students and colleagues become aware of what the student brings to the classroom, and can assist in developing other tools/skills to enhance learning.

Connectivism was a new concept to me this semester, but I have referred to it many times since learning of it. I think this concept has the potential to link to my previous comment of problem solver vs tool user. By using digital environments (tools), students can respond to information needs, and create and share new knowledge and understandings. I can apply this concept through using digital platforms (GoogleDocs, social curation tools, flipboard) for students to share understandings or questions for their peers to respond to.

Through Module 4: Globalisation of Learning, I discovered that globalising learning can challenge how and why we learn (Selwyn 2012) . We are now learning through digital interfaces from ebooks, online courses, including video-based lessons and online collaboration. The reason for our learning, and for teaching students to learn digitally, is to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to compete in a knowledge-based economy, where their learning here would allow them to work elsewhere.

Geo-spacial learning (Module 4.2) provided me with some ways to involve students in the world around them. I enjoyed learning of ways to do this in the set readings and the discussion forum. I had not heard of some of the tools before now. This is an area which I need to further research to better understand these tools and possibilities into inquiry learning.

I greatly enjoyed the content associated with digital literacy (1.5), information behaviour (2.2), Information Fluency (3.2), and curation (3.7). These topics showed the connections of library skills and behaviours to all aspects of learning. I have added these different perspectives to my own understanding.

In my role as an education professional in digital environments, I think it is important for students to know how to solve problems and use the tools available to them. They need to know how to learn. It is also important for students to have opportunities to interact with and explore the world around them to gain a bigger picture of the impact their learning could have on their lives.

 

References

Connected Learning Alliance. (2012, September 18). The global one room schoolhouse: John Seely Brown. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fiGabUBQEnM

Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis, M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Retrieved from http://www.iftf.org/uploads/media/SR-1382A_UPRI_future_work_skills_sm.pdf

Haste, H. (2009, June 25). Technology and youth: Problem solver vs tool user. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/YZRoS5QlJ44

Selwyn, N. (2012). Education in a digital world: Global perspectives on technology and education. [Routledge]. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

Part C – Final Reflection

When I started this topic, I was aiming to expand my understanding of Information Literacy, and explore the role the Teacher-Librarian (TL) further. This has occurred, specifically in the area of advocacy. I have reflected on my past practice and how I could improve now with this extra growth in knowledge, application and understanding.

 

Information Literacy

Prior to undertaking this topic (ETL401) I understood the basics of Information Literacy (IL) to be research skills, referencing, and ethical use of digital information. I have come to understand that there are more than 3 types of literacy (Re-Defining Literacy), and the aim of IL skill development is to help students to develop skills for success in the 21st Century information environments.

One of my biggest take-aways from the readings and Module 5 discussions was the importance of context and purpose when defining IL and implementing it in the classroom. I have also been introduced to the concept of Information Fluency (IF). I have come to understand this as being associated with IL, but with a focus on fluency of application instead of just understanding and literacy. I am curious about this terminology and the implications of using different terminology within the field of IL. I lean towards seeing IF as an overarching term which encompasses IL and Digital Literacy (DL).

Within my practice I would like to explore IF further and compare it against IL and DL. I would do this to become more knowledgeable about different 21st Century learning processes, and to build my capacity to implement and advocate for a particular IL method. I think IF should be the aim of information skill develop in 21st Century teaching and learning.

 

Information Literacy Models

I was aware of some IL models prior to this topic, but have not had the opportunity to explore them thoroughly. Through readings and Module 5 discussions, I have come to understand some differentiating details between IL models. I have also found that there many similarities, and trying to identify in-depth reasoning behind not using a particular model can be challenging.

I found this area of learning relevant to my previous context where I was endeavouring to integrate inquiry units into HASS. For that task I chose the 5As as my IL model because another school in the region also used it and shared their resources. I now understand that the 5As are linked to Information Fluency. I was pleasantly surprised when I made this connection.

This module has caused me to re-think other IL models and the process of integrating them across the curriculum. Based on Lupton’s paper and various exemplars of practice in implementing an IL model from Module 4, I would like to explore GID, and the 5As further to identify which model would be best suited to my circumstances. As I mentioned, I think IF is a good way to achieve 21st Century skill development. I might explore this model first.

 

TL Role in Inquiry Learning

The role the TL must play in advocating for IL within schools has become clearer to me throughout this topic. This is in addition to developing relationships and collaborative opportunities with students and staff. This topic has solidified for me the need for the TL to be involved in faculty planning and curriculum development to ensure integration of IL skills. Discussion in Module 4.3 indicates a TL’s involvement in curriculum development is necessary as they can see the big picture and know where IL skills can be best integrated.

Advocacy is an area I do not have much experience in. These discussions in Module 3 and Bonanno’s video were significant to me as I began to consider data collection and advocacy as not just for usage statistics, but as a way to get staff and the Principal on-side with developing IL across the school. Module 3 also made me reflect on the ways I could have practiced advocacy with a supportive teacher audience and converted Principal.

Reflection and assessment tools to collect data on student learning is something I would like to explore further in the future. I would do this through the use of competency-based questionnaires and reflective toolkits, as discussed in Module 4. A common theme through 4.2 discussions was making yourself available in small ways and taking baby steps to convince staff that working collaboratively with the TL is a good idea. When I start in my next TL role, I will take this approach to ‘test the waters’ on staff opinion and practice.

 

While I thought I knew much coming in, I have added new areas to my TL knowledge which will enable me to provide a greater impact in schools, and better advocate for the use of a TL in schools. I am still learning to apply my critical thinking skills to a range of concepts.

Module 4 & 5: TL and the Curriculum & Information Literacy: Reflection

In these modules I really considered my interpretation and teaching of information literacy based on purpose and context.

As an overarching concept IL being linked to lifelong learning and its development in an ever changing information landscape is highly relevant to the context of learning for today’s students, and their development of 21st Century skills.

The connection between digital and information literacies is strong and they are often used interchangeably. I consider that Information Fluency is the overarching concepts and digital literacy and information literacy fit underneath it’s umbrella. To be fluent in something means that you can understand connections between concepts and apply them in different situations. Within each type of literacy there are smaller concepts which need to be explicitly taught and understood. For example, for information literacy the concepts include research skills (those included in various IL models), for digital literacy the concepts include ethical use of ICT, and use of software & hardware.

It has become clearer to me that I need to fully understand my own definition of these literacies in order to be most effective in applying them to unit and teaching them. My understanding so far encompasses use, analysis and synthesis of information and resources to achieve a goal.

Transition from outcomes-based learning to inquiry, Constructivist learning is an important part of changing the education system. Outcomes-based learning reflects what students know, what they can do with it and how confident they are in expressing their knowledge. An inquiry learning model allows students to explore areas of interest within a topic, they are introduced to inquiry process skills, and begin to learn how to learn. Use of inquiry learning has links to my module in INF530 about information fluency and digital age learners.

I have used adaptations of the Big6 model of information literacy and the NSW Information Search Process and Backwards by Design in the creation of collaborative inquiry units. I reviewed the SA TfEL framework for areas of connection to inquiry learning and found them throughout the document in Domain 3 and 4.

Domain 3: Develop expert learners focuses on teaching students how to learn and processes they can use to construct knowledge. It looks at promotion of learning through modelling and promotion collaboration and dialogue. To give students the responsibility to create, critique and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. This description lends itself to the explicit teaching of inquiry skills (eg. identifying questions, note-taking, reflecting) and use of an inquiry model to gain deep understanding, journalling of thoughts, feelings and processes, collaborative discussions, using scaffolds to record information.

I found starting with the end point in mind with Backwards by Design planning a useful way of ensuring the end goal was met. My lesson content was then planned around what skills and knowledge do students need to achieve success at the end of the unit. I try to incorporate this thinking into any planning I do now, including that for inquiry learning.

In this module I enjoyed reading about different inquiry models and looking at the similarities and differences. I like the depth the Guided Inquiry Design (GID) goes into and the pace at which each stage is implemented. It seems like students would achieve a solid grounding in a range of skills at each stage. But I also think that the Big6 or NSW ISP might be simpler models to implement. There may be more transferrable techniques into the outside world as there are fewer steps to work through. I have worked with the Big6 and NSW ISP previously, but without comprehensive background knowledge into ways to fully explore each stage.

The connections with the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (CCT and ICT) are evident but they are not obviously associated with GID. This does provide a large scope for TLs to create a process which fits their school context. I am keen to further explore Guided Inquiry Design and the work of Lupton and Bonnano in aligning parts of the AC general capabilities to this framework.

I am interested in further exploring the IFLA School Library Guidelines to develop my understanding of pedagogical and technological change and how it could be implemented.

21st century skills are integral to the learner of today. Students need to leave school having the skills and dispositions to answer their own questions accurately and to apply them in a professional setting. Students need to know how to evaluate information sources and search efficiently and effectively. Integration of GID into curriculum will assist students in developing these skills.

While assessing student success in inquiry skills can be difficult, it is necessary for TLs to collect data on student achievement and progress through their inquiry sessions. Like the AITSL video showed, I would collect pre and post data surveys on students’ self-assessment of the information skill being highlighted in the topic. It is important not to overload on the skills teaching during a single unit; but allow students multiple opportunities to practice and develop several well integrated skills. These can then be built upon in future inquiries.

I enjoyed these modules and would like the opportunity to put some the ideas about evidence-based practice and collaborative opportunities into practice.

Module 2: The Information Environment: Reflection

Still in information overload! While titled the same as my other topic module, the content for ETL401: Introduction to Teacher Librarianship follows a different course.

The focus of this module has been on what information means, what it is, and how the environment changes. Some confusion from the first reading about defining information – who knew there were so many definitions!

My main take-aways from this module:

  • definitions of information can depend on perspective and context.
  • Information can be used as a commodity; but has different properties to other traded items.
  • Information landscape is constantly changing
  • An information society includes people accessing information in ways to suit their requirements.

While I was confused by Case’s ‘The Concept of Information’, I found Floridi’s article, ‘A look into the future impact of ICT on our lives’, much easier to follow and it seems to have been an accurate glimpse into the looking glass of the future. The idea of becoming an ‘inforg’, a ‘connected informational organism’, seems correct at this stage. We are attached to mobile devices 24/7 for news and media updates, there are home devices (Googlehome, Siri, Cortana) that will answer questions for you, and respond to in home commands.

This point from Floridi regarding becoming an inforg resonated with me:

“We shall increasingly feel deprived, excluded, handicapped, or poor to the point of paralysis and psychological trauma whenever we are disconnected from the infosphere, like fish out of water” (p.63)

At the time of reading, I connected this phrase to being constantly attached to our mobile devices. Think about when Facebook went down for a few hours, there were certainly some people that could not cope and became ‘like fish out of water’.

A teacher-librarian needs to understand the information landscape because they need to be able to guide teachers and students through it. The information landscape changes constantly. There is always new information, new sources, new technology, new skills. The teacher-librarian needs to understand these things and identify how best to inform/teach/assist users in gathering/synthesising/applying the information they require. Teacher-librarians bring knowledge of search techniques, ways to evaluate, note-taking methods to students in a way which is relevant and meets their needs. It is important to also remember that both technology and practices change and affect each other.