Critical reflection

The ever-changing world of information technology has seen the continued emergence of digital literature in various forms and with an abundance of features. According to the New South Wales government, digital texts can be audio, visual or multimodal texts that are created through digital or electronic technology and may be interactive and have animations and/or hyperlinks (New South Wales Department of Education, 2020).

From my exploration into the world of digital literature, it became evident that I was making relatively quick judgements about the value or worth of the digital texts. In my opinion, what makes a good digital text is something that is easy to use or navigate, and one that has lots of additional features that a printed text doesn’t have. In my opinion, in order to make the experience of a digital text worthwhile, it must have a range of features not afforded to printed texts, that provide an experience that is more enriching for the senses. The Lorax e-book app is an example of how a digital text utilises sound to provide an enriched experience for the reader. This is evident with the inclusion of music and relevant sounds to support the narrative.

Digital texts serve multiple purposes including allowing the narrative to be supplemented with multimedia such as video and interactive options. Furthermore, they also provide more opportunities for enhanced user engagement when the reader is able to determine their own experience with the literature. An example of this can be seen in the digital app The Lorax, whereby in addition to reading the narrative users can interact with the text, and also engage with other features such as the puzzles and memory games. However, it could be argued that choice is also available in some examples of printed text such as choose your own adventure style texts. Despite this, the ability for users of some digital texts to navigate through a range of features and choose which ones they interact with, and when, affords them greater user autonomy. Another significant benefit of digital literature is that technological changes and improvements also enable it to be continuously modified. Additional features may be added or updated information provided which can be particularly beneficial to non-fiction digital literature such as multimedia journalism. Journalists can easily add recent updates to a narrative which highlights the benefit of digital literature as being more easy to maintain its currency.

In comparing my experience of reading digital texts with reading print, it is clear that digital texts offer a greater opportunity for non-linear narratives than with reading print. However, print still does provide a more tactile experience with the smell and feel of a book. Printed text in the form of a book can be consumed by the reader without anyone else knowing. This is in contrast to a person’s use of digital literature that can be more easily scrutinised by others. One of the potential issues associated with reading digital literature compared to printed texts is that information about a person’s reading behaviour can be gathered by external organisations, potentially impacting on an individual’s privacy (Arts21, 2015, 17.00).

Through my experience in undertaking the investigation for this task, the digital text that I most enjoyed was Bear 71 VR as it encapsulated a range of current issues confronting humanity, and its interactive elements were intriguing. I was especially taken by this artefact, because as a HSIE Geography teacher resources that depict real life geographical issues are invaluable in the classroom. This kind of resource enables students to become more aware of what is happening in their world and can be easily incorporated into the Geography program. Specifically, one of the key competencies in the Stage 6 NSW Geography requires students to use appropriate information technologies in order to develop their competency in using technology (NESA, 2009). Furthermore, the Preliminary Course outcomes require students to use a range of maps and other tools such as photographs and fieldwork to conduct geographical inquiries and to examine the geographical nature of issues challenging humanity (NESA, 2009). Bear 71 VR would be an excellent virtual fieldwork resource for students to ensure that these outcomes are met. However, when adding this to a teaching program, it is important to consider that this digital text may trigger significant student emotional responses. Additionally, the controversial use of animal monitoring and human interference in their natural habitat may generate a wide range of student opinions and debate. This will need to be addressed as a form of debrief or analysis of the resource with students. Overall, I have gained a valuable insight into the world of digital literature through completing this task.


Allison, L. & Mendes, J. (2017). Bear 71 VR. National Film Board of Canada.

Arts21. (2015, June 6). What is the value of books in the digital age? DW.

New South Wales Department of Education. (2020). Digital and multimodal texts. New South Wales Government.

New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA). (2009). Geography stage 6 syllabus.

Oceanhouse Media. (2010). The Lorax by Dr Seuss (Version 4.1.1)[Mobile app]. Mac App Store.


Digital Literature Review 3

The Lorax by Dr Seuss is an e-book app that is a multimedia interactive digital version of “The Lorax” that was originally published in 1971 in printed form. The app was released by Oceanhouse Media Inc in 2010, and as further evidence of the story’s popularity and classic appeal the movie version of “The Lorax” produced by Universal Studios was released in 2012 (Nasaw & Dailey, 2012). Compared to the original printed version of “The Lorax”, the app possesses many digital technology features including sound, moving visuals, interactive games and icons to interact with. This may be more enticing for young people than the original printed form. Those used to interacting with screens, electronic literature may seem more familiar and appealing than traditional print literature (Electronic Literature Organisation, n.d.). Additionally, the app provides users with the ability to choose how they navigate through the story. Providing choice and options gives the user greater control and ownership over their interaction with the narrative and is more user directed. By interacting with apps, children’s relationship with the story is different than with print where the interactivity is often guided by someone else (Saljo, 2016).

The plot of the story centres around the character known as the Once-ler (a greedy businessperson) who chops down all of the trees to produce a product for his financial gain. The Lorax tries desperately to stop this destruction, as he realises the wide-ranging ramifications that this will have on their environment, and for all living things. Embedded within the story of the Lorax are a number of themes including environmental destruction, individualism, greed and consumerism. As this is a children’s story, the themes are very delicately interwoven throughout, ensuring these serious issues challenging the modern world are considered in an age appropriate and non-confrontational manner.

Synonymous with the printed book version of “The Lorax”, the app is also designed for users aged 4+. Evidence of this is its range of enhancements to aid the development of literacy. This includes opportunities for the user to tap on visual images to hear and read the associated word. Furthermore, using an app can have many benefits in the development of a range of digital technology skills. The use of apps can potentially assist teachers in the process of developing students’ range of digital skills and new media literacies (Stevenson & John, 2017).

One of the most significant differences between the printed book of “The Lorax” and using the app is the availability of other beneficial features associated with the story including a jigsaw puzzle, memory game and tapping activity. Digital apps of picture books offer additional content, features, and navigational options generally not present with print-based texts including animations, sound effects and hyperlinked resources (Serafini et al, 2015). An example of a sound effect in the digital app used to enhance “The Lorax” is the sound of the chainsaw cutting down the Truffula trees. The use of sound effects can make the reader feel more attached to the story. The appropriate sound design and music, can create an atmosphere and emotionally connect to people in a way visuals alone cannot (Mattka, 2018). A significant benefit of an e-book app is the way that users can determine their own journey through the narrative and engage with it in the manner of their own choosing, making it a very personalised experience. Compared to a printed book, an app enables users to customize their experience (Serafini et al, 2015).

There is a significant role for the use of digital storytelling apps like “The Lorax” in the classroom as teaching and learning tools. The interactive nature of apps and the ability for children to be hands on with their learning can make it a more student-centred pedagogy. Children love doing things on digital devices, and greatly appreciate the interactive apps (Miller, 2019). The themes and literary qualities of the story make it a highly appropriate resource for both the English and HSIE (Geography) curriculums. In particular, the NSW English K-10 syllabus specifies viewing and reading a range of texts in different media and technologies (NESA, 2012 ).

Some possible precluding aspects of this app is that it costs money to buy and also requires an appropriate digital device to access. Another consideration associated with the app is the marketing that is embedded within it. There is an icon that when touched can take the user to other available apps of Dr Seuss books. This can be beneficial to users in promoting further literacy in directing them to other titles that may be of interest. However, it can also potentially be a more coercive form of marketing than is seen in printed books.


Electronic Literature Organisation. (n.d.). Why teach electronic literature?

Mattka, R. (2018). How sound design is transforming UX. Creative Bloq.

Miller, C. H. (2019). Digital storytelling 4e: a creator’s guide to interactive entertainment. Taylor & Francis Group.

Nasaw, D., & Dailey, K. (2012). Five interpretations of The Lorax. BBC News.

New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA). (2012). English K-10 syllabus.

Oceanhouse Media. (2010). The Lorax by Dr Seuss (Version 4.1.1)[Mobile app]. Mac App Store.

Saljo, R. (2016). Apps and learning: a sociocultural perspective. In N, Kucirkova & G, Falloon (eds.), Apps, technology and younger learners : International evidence for teaching (pp. 3-13). Taylor and Francis Group.

Serafini, F., Kachorsky, D., & Aguilera, E. (2015). Picture books 2.0: Transmedial features across narrative platforms. Journal of Children’s Literature, 41(2), 16-24.

Stevenson, M. E., & John, G. H. (2017). Mobilizing learning: a thematic review of apps in K-12 and higher education. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 14(2), 126-137.

Digital Literature Review 2

Bear 71 VR is an interactive multimedia non-fiction web based Virtual Reality (VR) documentary co-created by Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada. It tells the true story of a female Grissly bear living in Banff National Park in Canada. The bear was caught and tagged with an electronic device which allowed it to be tracked and closely monitored by wildlife conservation offices from 2001–2009 (Allison & Mendes, 2017). The web-based documentary was originally released in 2012, but was re-released in 2017 as a VR work with an abstract VR environment, providing enhanced exploration opportunities and experiences for users (Kolm, 2017).

The story begins with film of the snared distressed bear beginning the process of human monitoring. The bear is given the number 71 as an impersonalised form of identification which is immediately juxtaposed to the personal style audio narration from the bear’s perspective. This narration is heard throughout the remainder of story and acts to create a bond, and a sense of empathy between the bear and the user. Users can then navigate around the interactive map that is a VR representation the bear’s home. This map contains a collection of videos and images of the park and its wildlife taken using cameras imposed upon the natural landscapes. Video footage and audio narration of the life of Bear 71 is interspersed throughout the story. The story sadly culminates in her untimely death on a railway track protecting her cubs from an oncoming train. This scene exemplifies the negative consequences of human encroachment on nature.

Bear 71 is targeted for users over 12, who also have the ability to use digital tools. The themes, including the controversial treatment of animals in the story, mean that it is not suitable for a younger user. Furthermore, to navigate through this story, users must possess the required basic technological knowledge and skills.

There are a multitude of themes evident throughout this narrative. One of the most prominent is the uncomfortable concurrence between the natural world and the technologically advanced world. This is best exemplified by the narrated words “It is hard to say where the wired world ends and the wild one begins” (Allison & Mendes, 2017, 4.18). Another significant theme is the ever-increasing human impact on natural environments and wildlife. The ultimate example of this is when Bear 71 is killed by a train in her natural environment. This is designed to highlight the role that humans are playing in the process of animal loss and extinction. This theme is further supported in the story by the use of the word “refugees” in reference to the bears’ ever decreasing habitable land (Allison & Mendes, 2017, 3.12).

There are many advantages of using multiple media forms in storytelling (also known as transmedia storytelling). Transmedia storytelling encourages readers to search for information and investigate in a range of formats (Lamb, 2011). In addition to the artefact itself, there are further opportunities for engaging digitally with others about the narrative through social platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr. Another significant benefit of this type of digital literature is its non-static quality, with continuing opportunities to make modifications according to technological developments. Evidence of this is that Bear 71 was re-released with VR. This was developed in the framework WebVR, allowing VR experiences to occur within a browser using a multitude of devices (Kolm, 2017). It is important that these modifications are easily accessible on current devices to maximise patronage. The aim is to make VR experiences available irrespective of the device being used (WebVR, n.d.).

Bear 71 can be used in the classroom particularly for the New South Wales Stage 4 Geography curriculum outcomes related to human interactions with environments and perspectives on geographical issues (NESA, 2015). Furthermore, it can be used as a stimulus to facilitate discussion around the ethical use of technology, and in general to facilitate the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills. ICT capability is one of the General Capabilities embedded in the Australian Curriculum. In particular the English Curriculum requires students to use ICT when they interpret multimodal texts (ACARA, n.d.). Multimedia narratives can be especially useful in a variety of ways to enhance student learning. Elements can be used to support readers experiencing difficulties,  aid comprehension and understanding of concepts and contribute to the tone of the story (Lamb, 2011).

A potential negative associated with this artefact is that it provides a very one-sided perspective of some issues and especially that of human impacts on nature. It lacks a more rounded consideration of how human interference and monitoring may, in some instances, act to protect and care for the natural world. Despite this, Bear 71 raises some pertinent questions about technology and our modern world, ironically delivered as a modern form of digital literature.



Allison, L. & Mendes, J. (2017). Bear 71 VR. National Film Board of Canada.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability.

Bear 71. [@iambear71]. (n.d.). Tumblr.

Iambear71 [@iambear71]. (2012). Twitter.

Kolm. J. (2017). NFB re-releases award-winning doc in VR. Strategy.

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe. Learning & Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12–17.

NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). (2015). Geography: K-10 syllabus.

WebVR. (n.d.). What is WebVR?



Digital Literature Review 1

“From space, the ferocity of Queensland’s bushfires is revealed” is a non-fiction multimedia news report that tells the story of Australia’s Queensland bushfires in November 2018. This  artefact was produced by ABC journalist and digital producer Mark Doman and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Digital story innovation team. The purpose of the story is to inform people about a disaster and highlight its geographical significance. A good news story should inform and engage the audience (Hernandez & Rue, 2015).

The subject of this journalistic news story is the extreme bushfire event that occurred in Queensland in 2018, but its depth of meaning extends beyond this to encapsulate a multitude of associated geographical issues currently of global concern. The story profiles key elements of this specific natural disaster, including the weather conditions that contributed to its intensity, and a description of the bushfire’s impact. Further included is evidence of the emergency response to the disaster, and how swift and intelligent human action was able to prevent more devastation. There is a significant overarching sentiment to the story that this type of environmental disaster is not uncommon today. Two of the key messages of the story are that we need to readily prepare ourselves for more of these geographical events, and that these are also associated with our human impacts on the world. This form of digital literature is free and accessible to anyone using Internet browsers on devices such as a laptop, iPad, iPhone and tablets, making it a highly accessible artefact.

The intended audience for this news story is quite broad, however it can be argued that it is only appropriate for ages 12 and above. Evidence for this is the presence of more complex language such as “penetrated” and “dire” (Doman, 2018, para.1). This sophisticated language would require a certain level of literacy for comprehension. Furthermore, the fact that the main subject of the artefact is a disaster would also indicate that it is not appropriate for very young children. The presence of geographical tools for interpretation, such as maps, are further suggestive of this.

This piece of multimedia journalism uses emotive language that helps to engage the reader and also highlight the gravity of the disaster. This is exemplified in the introductory paragraph “dire warning: evacuate now or burn to death” (Doman, 2018, para.1). Use of the colour black as the background for the introduction further adds a sense of foreboding as black is often associated with negative things. Using colours in literature helps the author to construct a literary scene to better enable the reader to envisage and understand it (Kumar, 2015). A range of geographical tools are used to support the narrative including satellite imagery, maps and photographs. This helps to make the story more realistic and memorable as it provides clear evidence of the disaster. Parkinson (2006) suggests that using a combination of pictures and text in a multimedia article may make messages more memorable, and can also aid with the comprehension and synthesis of new information.

This artefact can be used to support both the Science and HSIE curriculum areas due to its association with the topics weather and natural disasters. In particular, it can be incorporated into the Geography curriculum to support the development of Geographical skills (including interpreting photographic images and maps) and geographical knowledge and understanding which are all an essential part of the NSW syllabus (NESA, 2015).

There are a number of things that could enhance this artefact especially when comparing this multimedia journalistic artefact to another “Snowfall: the avalanche at Tunnel Creek” . This has interactive elements that give the reader choice as to how deeply they want to learn about the disaster. This choice is offered through multiple slide shows of photographic images of the disaster that can be scrolled through and a video of a personal interview with survivor that can also be accessed. Allowing this form of choice empowers the reader and gives them ownership over the depth of their learning. In a classroom situation this choice is excellent, as students can choose their level of emotional involvement, allowing for the diverse emotional needs of students. Furthermore, embedding a range of media elements within the text of the story creates a captivating multimedia experience (Pincus et al, 2017).

The presence of sound and interactive elements could add further appeal to this news story and provide for a more immersive experience. This could take the form of interactive options such as sounds associated with the disaster such as sirens, video footage of the disaster or interviews providing personal accounts. Furthermore, for use in the classroom, the news story would benefit from including information regarding mitigating a future bushfire event. Discussing management strategies is a knowledge and understanding outcome of the Stage 4 NSW Geography syllabus (NESA, 2015).


Branch, J. (2012). Snow fall: The avalanche at Tunnel Creek. New York Times.

Doman, M. (2018, December 8). From space, the ferocity of Queensland’s bushfires is revealed. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.,-the-ferocity-of-queenslands-bushfires-is-revealed/10594662?nw=0

Hernandez, R. K., & Rue, J. (2016). The principles of multimedia journalism: packaging digital news. Routledge.

Kumar, R. (2015). Colour as metaphor in language and literature. Research Scholar, 3(2), 439-445.

NSW Education Standards Authority. (2015). Geography: K-10 syllabus.

Parkinson, M. (2006). Do-it-yourself billion dollar graphics: turn your words and data into powerful visuals. Pepperlip Press.



Trends in digital literature: Discovering possibilities

I was amazed this week in engaging with the modules and in my further research. The article From twitterbots to VR: 10 of the best examples of digital literature was particularly interesting as it gave me further examples to view. I especially loved the Alan Bigelow’s How to rob a bank. I had never come across something like this before and it was interesting to see the modern digital elements used in a narrative. Wright (2019) suggests that it is a reinvention of Bonnie and Clyde for the digital age. As a teacher of teenagers, I can see how this modern digital version of a theme can be more relatable for them.


Bigelow, A. (2017). How to rob a bank. Webyarns.

Wright, D. T. H. (2019). From twitterbots to VR: 10 of the best examples of digital literature. The conversation.