INF533 Part C: Critical Reflection

Introduction

Through INF533 my understandings of education in digital environments has continued to expand. Initially I was hoping to develop my understanding of using digital narratives in the classroom. I was thinking mainly from a literacy and reading perspective. Now I understand digital narratives to encompass presentation of information (flipped learning), and for student work creation and student engagement.

Digital Literature

The ideas discussed in Module 1 regarding what constitutes digital literature expanded on my prior knowledge somewhat. I have begun to explore beyond eBooks, towards interactive narratives. I have also been considering the narrative element of a variety of computer and role-playing games. They can hook in students who may be negative towards narratives, and provide the basis for their own as they explore the game. I can apply Walsh’s and Yokota and Teale’s criteria for literature evaluation to future collection development in my next library and to text selection for curriculum reading tasks. This would involve using a checklist of criteria and comparing potential texts against it. In addition, the text would need to be checked against curriculum and topic requirements. I strongly believe that using texts that relate well to task context and which students can connect to is integral to student engagement.

Digital Skills

I really connected with the ideas in Module 2 regarding effective use of digital tools and positioning students to be successful with digital learning. Leu, Forzani, Timbrell and Maykel and Serafini and Youngs highlighted an additional skill set for students to efficiently work and read in digital formats. Additionally, Walker, Jameson and Ryan noted the necessity for information seeking and information transfer skills. These authors are connected to 21st century and digital literacy skills. In collaboration with classroom teachers, I would like to be embedding digital literacy using a variety of digital narratives – to explore and to create.

Creation of Digital Narratives

Through Module 4 the ways in which digital texts can be created by students to share their knowledge and understanding was explored. My reflection explores the various readings. There is a lot of potential for using student created digital narratives in classes. I think it is necessary to balance digital work and analogue learning (face to face discussions and using pen and paper). Students need to see the value in what they create and using digital narratives consistently in all classes could become monotonous. I would like to begin using digital narrative creation in my classes. For example, in History students could create a day in a life story (written, visual or audio) to show understanding of different times and cultures. In English, students could turn a traditional narrative into a picture story or a video. Digital narratives provide opportunities to embed narrative structure in all learning areas, and provides a platform for students to express voice, choice and empathy. Student digital narratives create pride in their own work, and experience in creating something for a purpose.

Technology Integration

Module 5 focused on the integration of digital media texts into student learning, through merging creativity, narrative and technology, and empowering diverse learners. The TPACK and SAMR models are highlighted to support teachers in ensuring a balance and reason for technology use in the classroom. The concept of merging creativity, narrative and technology (Hall, 2012) connects with Technology and Content Knowledge, and providing multiple ways (choice) in which students can present their understandings. Within 21st century education I think it is more important than ever to ensure that technology is value adding to student learning and not just used because it is available. When used, the models mentioned ensure the educator is considering how the technology is impacting student learning. I will endeavour to focus on the value added in my classes by following the TPACK model. I prefer this model as it highlights how technology connects with pedagogy and content.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the opportunities to explore different styles of digital narratives. I have warmed to some more than others, based on how busy the text was to engage with. I have expanded my understanding and views on using digital narratives in education. I am more open to different types of digital literature and how they can be used for literacy development or expression of knowledge. I am looking forward to the opportunity to apply this understanding in a library or classroom in the future. I think the possibilities for use of digital narratives either for reading or creating are limited only by creativity.

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/

Hall, T. (2012). Digital renaissance: The creative potential of narrative technology in education. Creative Education, 3(1), 96-100. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.31016

Kingsley, K. (2007). Empower diver learners with education technology and digital media. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(1), 52-56. doi: 10.1177/10534512070430010701

Koehler, J. (2019). The TPACK Framework. Retrieved from www.tpack.org

Leu, D., Forzani, E., Timbrell, N., & Maykel, C. (2015). Seeing the forest, not the trees. The Reading Teacher, 69(2), 139-145. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1406

Schrock, K. (2018). SAMR and Bloom’s. Retrieved from https://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html

Serafini, F. & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading workshop 2.0: Children’s literature in the digital age. The Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404. doi: 10.102/TRTR.1141

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture. In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp.212-224). New York, NY: Routledge. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

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

INF533 Part A: Digital Project Context

My digital story telling project will be a content for flipped learning. My artefact will be aimed towards a Catholic middle school in the inner southern suburbs of Adelaide. The school is co-educational and caters for years 7-9. It feeds into the associated senior school with year 10-12. Students have 1:1 access to Chrome Books which are used in most lessons. The school site uses Google Classroom as its main learning system, this is support by SEQTA for administration and pastoral activities. Students are experienced in the use of Google Classroom to access subject content and submit tasks online.

Subject Area:

The flipped learning task will be linked to the Australian Curriculum, Year 7 Civics and Citizenship. The task will cover the concepts of constitution and federation. Depending on past experiences, this may be revision of prior learning or development of new knowledge.

Purpose:

Flipped learning is the process of setting content-based learning for students to complete out of class (eg. homework). The use of flipped learning tasks enables class time to be used for discussions, exploration, analysis of content, and student questioning.

The task will be based around video content sourced through the Parliamentary Education Office (creative commons licensed). The task will be designed on Wix, and following some design elements from TED Ed Lesson Creator, such as the inclusion of think questions and discussion prompts. There are two sections to this task which could be completed by students at different times. The use of Wix allows for the sequential placement of videos, overarching introduction and conclusion, inclusion of student questions, and opportunities for collaboration between class members. The use of student questions will inform the teacher as to any areas of confusion and questions to respond to in future lessons.

Audience:

This task is aimed at a class of Year 7 students. The class has several students with diverse learning needs.

Value for program implementation:

Flipped learning is the process of delivering direct instruction to students in their individual learning space (FLN, 2014). According to Educause (2012), the value of flipped learning is in the reallocation of class time to provide opportunities for student to ask questions, apply knowledge and collaborate with others. Technology is often incorporated into flipped learning, but it is not a necessity (Shaffer, 2016). When technology is used a model such as TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy, Content Knowledge) is beneficial to ensure equal implementation of technology, content and pedagogy (Shaffer, 2016). In order to undertake flipped learning, it is necessary to follow 4 pillars to support full implementation.

Flexible Learning:

Successful flipped learning uses a variety of learning modes to get information across to students. This include videos, discussions, reading, and mini assignments (Hennick, 2014). Students now have choice over when and where they can learn.

Learning Culture:

The learning culture of flipped learning incorporates a learner-centred approach where students are actively involved in creating knowledge and meaningful learning (FLN, 2014). Hennick (2014) describes the inclusion of hands-on activities increasing student involvement in their own education. Shaffer (2016) agrees that students with active involvement in their learning are more able to retain information and skills, than students passively involved.

Intentional Content:

With intentional content class time is maximised, and conceptual understanding and procedural fluency increased (FLN, 2014). With more time in class to participate in project-based learning there is more opportunity for students to develop Higher Order Thinking skills (Hennick, 2014). In addition, students now have greater access to their teachers while applying their new knowledge (Hennick, 2014).

Professional Educator:

As a professional educator in a flipped learning classroom feedback can be given to students immediately, and teachers are constantly assessing knowledge (FLN, 2014; Hennick, 2014). Teachers are also able to connect and improve their content through professional discussions and acceptance of constructive criticism.

Value for diverse learning needs:

Flipped learning has benefits to all members of the class, not just those with diverse learning needs (Bergmann & Sams, 2012 in Shaffer, 2016:

  • helps busy or struggling students
  • students can re-watch or pause their content
  • more time for student-teacher and student-student interactions
  • increases teacher understanding of their students
  • changes how the classroom is managed
  • supports students who are absent

Value for community use:

Following the creation and implementation of a flipped learning unit or task the resources can be shared within the school community. This is highly valuable as it saves other teachers time and could be a stepping-stone for some teachers to try a flipped learning model. If teachers pool their time and resources together an entire curriculum could be developed as flipped learning.

 

References

Educause. (2012). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2012/2/eli7081-pdf.pdf

Flexible Learning Network. (2014). What is flipped learning? Retrieved from https://flippedlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/FLIP_handout_FNL_Web.pdf

Hennick, C. (2014). Flipped. Scholastic Administr@tor, 13(5), 38-42). Retrieved from ProQuest.

Koehler, J. (2019). The TPACK Framework. Retrieved from www.tpack.org

Shaffer, S. (2016). One high school English teacher: On his way to a flipped classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(5), 563-573. doi: 10.1002/jaal.473

Module 4 Reflection: Digital Storytelling

Module 4 has covered a variety of areas, including some practical ways to incorporate digital storytelling into the classroom, and exploring the definition and how it has expanded over time.

I already had some idea of the potential for creating digital texts in the classroom from INF530. This module has built on those concepts and I have begun to make connections to curriculum and class tasks and explore the use of pre-made digital narratives.

It has been highlighted that there is opportunity for creating AND reading digital stories and these can both be incorporated into teaching and learning. Botturi, Bramani and Corbino discuss how digital stories can be used to assist with communication and finding voice for students with learning difficulties. Matthews comments similarly that communication is a benefit for using digital stories. While Tackvic highlights the benefits of using digital platforms to create narratives. And Bjorgen refers to the similarities and differences in student use of digital tools at home and school through a digital storytelling project.

These readings follow similar themes but approach to topic from different contexts. The concept of using digital stories with students with diverse needs to share their learning or their own personal story, highlights why providing tasks with different presentation options is necessary for all student learning.

Building a narrative from scratch is hard, particularly, as Tackvic points out, when the page in front of you is blank. Getting students to plan their narratives using digital tools – giving the access to images and music which can spark creativity is teaching students to use the tools around them to meet an end goal, and encouraging student’s own interpretation of images/sounds (thinking critically and creatively).

Students are exposed to digital environments/tools at home and at school, and they use them differently in each scenario. Students creating digital narratives at school are building a skill set they can use outside of the classroom. Conversely, they can bring skills learnt at home and apply them to school tasks. Yes, there is often a difference in what can/cannot be accessed (eg. YouTube), but this forces students to find other solutions.

Using digital storytelling in the classroom is something I would like to start doing. It provides opportunities for differentiation and critical and creative thinking, as well as building an ongoing understanding of digital tools and narrative structure. I would start small – working with one class on one topic in order to develop my presentation of the task and skills in tools. I would like to build up to completing at least one digital storytelling task a year with each class. There are multiple opportunities for this throughout the HASS and English curriculums.

 

References

Bjorgen, A.M. (2010). Boundary crossing and learning identifies – digital storytelling in primary schools. Seminar.net: Media, Technology and Lifelong Learning, 6(2), 161-175. Retrieved from EBSCO.

Botturi, L., Bramani, C., & Corbino, S. (2012). Finding your voice through digital storytelling. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 56(3), 10-11. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0569-1

Matthews, J. (2014). Voices from the heart: The use of digital storytelling in education. Community Practitioner, 87(1), 28-30. Retrieved from ProQuest Central.

Tackvic, C. (2012). Digital storytelling: Using technology to spark creativity. The Educational Forum, 76(4), 426-429. doi: 10.1080/00131725.2012.707562

Module 2 Reflection: Learning and Teaching

Module 2 focused on how digital tools can be used to enhance teaching and learning, how digital tools relate to literature in the classroom, and the challenges around practically implementing them.

2.1 discussed the importance of using digital tools to their full potential in the classroom, instead of as a ‘busy’ tool to keep student occupied. How are we using the technology in our classrooms? In order to be most effective with digital tools, we need to position students as knowledge builders and producers, providing collaborative opportunities to engage students.

Serafini & Youngs’ (2013) discuss new skills required by digital readers, how digital reading can be incorporated into curriculum, and the effect of changing modes of texts. The ideas about using book websites and social networking opportunities to connect with likeminded readers can be applied to a classroom/school. In addition, the use of digital tools to create responses to literature is also valid. I think it is necessary to identify digital tools which can enhance an already embedded literature experience. For example, book reviews or book talks can be transferred to digital sites, comprehension responses can become digital. But we should also be looking to expand student experiences and incorporate tasks which can only be done in a digital format, to do this I think we need to think outside the box for tasks which allow students to show understanding as well as engaging with new texts or formats. Even incorporating a digital text as a class novel could provide a platform for students to explore something different.

2.2 looks at challenges in reading and responding to digital texts. There is the suggestion that comprehension and retention of information can be lacking through this format. Opportunities need to be provided for student to think deeper about the information they find, and to make meaning through collaborative activities. Walker, Jameson & Ryan (2010) highlight the need for students to have skills to transfer information between contexts and to locate relevant information. This section indicates to me the necessity of information and digital literacy skills teaching. These skills are necessary so students can identify what they need to know, how to find it, where to find it, how to evaluate it, and skills to create digitally and be literate/comprehend online. These are key areas within 21st century skills which student of today need to be developing.

2.3 looks at practical uses for digital tools in the classroom. Mills and Levido (2011) identify iPed as a pedagogy for incorporating digital tools and application into curriculum and task development. I think this methodology provides a good basis for integration of digital tasks and tools. Link – to students lives. Challenge – authenticity and authority of digital sources, reflect critically on assumptions made in own created products. Co-create – collaboration and sharing of knowledge to create a product. Share – with a community for feedback and recognition. By following iPed you can be sure that connections are being made between content and creation, and students are developing a variety of skills. I would like to integrate digital storytelling, following iPed would a good way to do this.

I would like to identify specific tasks for reading comprehension and creation which can only be completed with digital tools. This will ensure that the tool is adding to the learning task, and that curriculum goals are still being met. In addition, I would like to use iPed as the basis of a digital storytelling activity.

 

References

Mills, K. & Levido, A. (2011). iPed: Pedagogy for digital text production. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 80-91. doi: 10.1598/RT.65.1.11

Serafini, F. & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading workshop 2.0: Children’s literature in the digital age. The Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.1141

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture. In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp.212-224). New York, NY: Routledge. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

Module 1 Reflection: Trends and Developments

Module 1 discussed trends and developments in literature – from Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press to eBooks and digital narratives. I understand the speed at which changes to literature is occurring now, in relation to previous innovations. The use of reading and digital texts in the classroom needs to be able to value add and enhance the learning experience. Changes in format are also impacting pedagogy, and the way students comprehend information. ICT should be embedded into classrooms, providing a solid platform for introduction of different text formats.

Do we need to change how we teach comprehension and literacy? I think is it important for students to have opportunities to explore these skills using different text formats. I also think that for each type of format there are differences in how we note-take and comprehend the information. A discussed in Learning 2030 student have an intuitive sense for games on devices, but not necessarily education. They need to be taught hose to use their devices to find the information required. This aligns with digital literacy and information literacy skills which students will need to be effective 21st century learners and citizens.

Embedding and value adding with ICT in classrooms is integral to its use. The access which can be made to information and resources through digital connections can help students to see the bigger picture, as well as access resources they may not have been able to from a physical library.

Moving from print literature to digital literature can also increase student engagement and understanding of concepts. There can be more interactive elements within digital literature, and ways to expand on ideas and provide definitions and images to help build background knowledge. This could be highly useful for disengaged readers – particularly if you are able to access graphic digital narratives.

Literature in a digital environment can vary from the standard scanned eBook to electronic game narratives. I think the distinction in types of digital literature is important to understand when choosing a title. Do you just want to be able to display the book on a screen or do you want students to be able to interact with it, or have it read to them? I did not realise there were so many sub-categories of digital narratives. But is it clear that they all serve different purposes.

Walsh’s chapter highlights how to evaluate digital texts, and she does so through a comparison to good literature. What does the digital text add to the reading experience? How does what is adds connect to good literature? We should not be using digital texts ‘just because’, they need context and they need to add to student learning.

I found this Module helpful in understanding different types of digital literature, and ways to assess its quality. The key point for me here was that context and the value it adds are very important.

When developing my library collection, I will pay closer attention to digital narratives which are available. I will provide access to them through the library homepage or as favourite links on school computers. I will promote them and their usefulness to class teachers as alternate text types. I think having a better understanding of the types of digital literature and ways to evaluate it will be beneficial for collection development and motivation of disengaged readers.

 

References

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

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

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