This subject instilled great fear in me and my abilities to understand digital environments, let alone create one. Whilst I feel like I have a sound grasp of the digital world I engage with on a daily basis, the thought of actually creating a digital story with programs I have never used, was terrifying. However, I understand as a teacher and teacher librarian (TL), harnessing the skills of information and communication technology (ICT) and being abreast of 21st century skills is absolutely vital, and are a requirement set out in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2018).
Whilst I do use a range of digital platforms in my teaching, I never actually considered what constituted valuable digital literature until I began my readings in earnest and thought about it from the TL perspective. I valued the insight provided by Yakota and Teale (2014) in what constituted a good digital text, because it isn’t just about how it fits into the curriculum, its accessibility and whether it appeals to users in a way that fosters intrinsic motivation. It also needs to be classified as quality digital literature (Walsh, 2013). Taking these features into consideration gave me greater insight into how I was going to create a digital story, and ensure that I made use of the digital storytelling elements and considered the pedagogical implications for the user (Nokelainen, 2006). Nokelainen proposes key criteria to evaluate the use of the material, including learner control and activity, added value, motivation, flexibility and feedback and I tried to focus on these key criteria when I developed my digital storytelling (DST) project (Nokelainen, 2006). I desperately wanted my DST project to contain Nokelainen’s elements so I could create a valuable teaching resource for my students and be able to share this as an exemplar with my colleagues. I wanted to eliminate the fear of what I had previously held, about using software and digital tools that felt so foreign.
I used Microsoft Sway, Microsoft Forms, Powtoon and Vimeo to create my DST project, and I have never used any of these digital tools before. I originally thought about using powerpoint, but this is a program I have used for many years, and I really wanted to learn something new from this assessment and bring it to my teaching practice. Initially it was overwhelming, but I quickly learned how easy it was to access and create a digital publication. In less than 24 hours, I had a really clear grasp of Sway and found its usability incredibly simple. I actually felt excited. I noted in my Module 2.1 discussion forum how teachers feel great intimidation when implementing digital literature into the curriculum and feel great pressure to master skills they have had little formal training in. Teachers are already faced with a demanding workload, but I’ve realised if that if one teacher can create a digital narrative in Sway, for example, and share it with teaching colleagues that allows for contribution and collaboration, it lightens the load and the pressure to constantly create new and innovative digital resources. It also works as a guide to show teachers how to include digital stories with features that enhance the learning process, rather than detract from it. With digital narrative technology and the use of tools it encompasses, it helps to ensure the focus remains on learning (Hall, 2011). The creation of digital narratives as noted by Hall (2011) significantly enhances professional awareness and development, leading to teachers being much better equipped to meet the demands of new technologies when creating digital narratives (Hall, 2011). Walsh maintains that ‘students of today will need to adapt to new technologies and to those literary practices needed for each development’ (Walsh, 2010, p216), however, so too will teachers. Leadership, collaboration and support are key elements that a TL can offer to a teaching team when creating and implementing digital narratives.
It is so important to include digital resources in our teaching and to teach students how to access digital literacies across the learning continuum and David Leu clearly acknowledges why it is so important that we support and provide students with the skills needed when reading digital texts (Leu et al., 2011).
I was very conscious of my digital citizenship with regards to copyright and ensuring I used images that didn’t breach copyright in my DST project. This was one of the reasons why I chose to embed links to other online sources, as this does not breach copyright (Australian Copyright Council, 2020). I also relied on the images provided through Sway, so that I could select Creative Commons images only, limiting me to licensed material. Sway also allows for the upload of my own created content in Vimeo. I feel like I still have a great deal to learn about managing copyright effectively, especially as TLs are considered the voice of expertise in this field.
The idea of exploring digital literature for Assessment 2 necessitated a connection to social media and networking that has been established through CSU. Using Goodreads, Twitter and the Knowledge Networks Diigo group was something that I initially felt quite uncomfortable with. However, on reflection, I do see the value of connecting with these professional networks to inform my practice and widen my professional connections and indeed give me greater insight into the digital platforms and resources that exist, and remind myself that I am not alone and really, anything is possible.
Australian Copyright Council. (2020). https://www.copyright.org.au/ Australian Government. (2012). Copyright and the Digital Economy | Australian Law Reform Commission. https://www.alrc.gov.au/publication/copyright-and-the-digital-economy-alrc-report-122/
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2018). Senior Secondary Curriculum. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority website: https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/senior-secondary-curriculum
Hall, T. (2011). Digital renaissance:The creative potential of narrative technology in education. Creative Education, 3(1), 96-100.
Leu, D. J, Forzani, E., Timbrell, N., & Maykel, C. (2015). Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in the primary-grade and upper elementary-grade classroom. Reading Teacher, 69(2), 139-145. http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=109228758&site=ehost-live
Nokelainen, P. (2006). An empirical assessment of pedagogical usabipty criteria for digital learning material with elementary school students. Educational Technology & Society, 9(2), 178 – 197. https://www.j-ets.net/ETS/journals/9_2/12.pdf
Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal pteracy:what does it mean for classroom practice? Austrapan Journal of Language and pteracy 33(3), 211 – 239. http://www.alea.edu.au/documents/item/63
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). https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf
Yokota, J. & Teale, W.H. (2014). Picture books and the Digital World: Educators Making Informed Choices. The Reading Teacher, 34(6). https://www.academia.edu/3886534/Picture_Books_and_the_Digital_World_Educators_Making_Informed_Choices