This digital storytelling (DST) project has been created for the Senior Secondary Curriculum for English in Unit 2, for a Year 11 English class using Sway in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Forms, Powtoon and Vimeo. It is a multimodal resource that does not meet all of the requirements of digital literature categories as stipulated by Walsh (2013) and Lamb (2011), however does exhibit characteristics of storytelling such as linearity, structure and digital features that provide and enhance learning opportunities for students.
This DST project has been developed for a secondary, independent school that excels in both NAPLAN and OP (ATAR in 2020) results. As such, students identified with learning needs is minimal, however with close to 28% from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB), this project is scaffolded with various digital features to support challenged readers (Alexander, 2011).
In Unit 2 students analyse the representation of ideas, attitudes and voices in texts in order to consider how texts represent the world and human experience (ACARA, 2018). This unit of work focuses on the study of Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife, and students will examine the effect of stylistic choices and how audiences are positioned to consider the prevailing attitudes, values and perspectives present in this text (ACARA, 2018). The unit incorporates a close study of the play, and this necessitates a deep understanding of the socio-cultural context of the both colonial and post-colonial texts. This DST project has been developed for the orientation phase of the unit of work, introducing students to colonial texts and the inherent ideologies and cultural assumptions that foregrounded this era of literature. This then provides a springboard for understanding how post-colonial texts subvert the predominant ideologies and represent a reimagined telling of a story with a post-colonial voice. The purpose of this DST project is to introduce students to traditional colonial texts and then further examine how language and structural choices shape perspectives. This unit of work culminates with an examination that responds to an unseen question, in the form of an analytical essay. This DST project meets the content descriptors for Senior English in ACEEN024, ACEEN021, ACEEN022, ACEEN025, ACEEN026, ACEEN028, ACEEN031, ACEEN033, ACEEN035, ACEEN038, ACEEN039 and ACEEN040 (ACARA, 2018).
The value of this DST project is multi-faceted. The author of a Sway resource is able to invite others to edit, enabling great collaboration amongst a teaching cohort. This DST project could be created by one teacher who then shares it with their teaching team, enabling other teachers to edit and contribute to the overall presentation. This allows for a greater collaboration of ideas, shared authorship, empowerment and pedagogical practice (Morra, 2013). This synergy amongst a teaching team would be incredibly valuable (Lamb, 2011) and promotes pedagogical methodology through the use of tools by teachers that enhance the teaching of their curriculum areas (Hall, 2011). Additionally, it allows teachers to engage creatively with their subject and explore the creative ways of communicating a topic in way that is engaging for their students (Hall, 2011).
After the experiences of online learning as a result of COVID, this DST project would be an excellent teaching resource for teachers and students to use. Students would have the luxury of self-pacing, and can enable the feature of ‘read aloud’ to assist in the comprehension and learning of content. A Stack (Microsoft, n.d) of key vocabulary needed for the unit of study is clearly explained for students, and hyperlinks have been embedded to audio and text files, allowing students to gain further understanding of key concepts. A Powtoon video (Powtoon, n.d) has also been embedded via Vimeo (Vimeo, n.d.) offering an audio-visual experience for students. This DST project provides students with great flexibility and control over their own learning and pace of learning, and it is this sense of autonomy that has the potential to enhance educational and learning outcomes, because it allows students to progress at their own pace (Cullen, 2015). Further engagement in the learning experience would be enhanced by completing activities in the inbuilt Forms, another feature of Microsoft 365 (Microsoft, n.d.). These activities provide opportunities for consolidation, comprehension, and higher order thinking skills of synthesis and evaluation (Kopka, 2014). Further, they allow students to engage in literary practices by demonstrating metacognition and using the metalanguage of the English curriculum (Walsh, 2010).
This DST project allows students the flexibility to self-pace, listen as opposed to (or in conjunction with) reading, levels of interactivity and cognitive engagement, comprehension and evaluative skills that students should be predominantly engaging in (Roskos et al., 2014). It is these features that also provides differentiation for students, making it a valuable teaching resource.
For a school that optimizes the features available in Microsoft Office 365, students would have unlimited access to this resource at school and remotely, provided internet access is available remotely. The added advantage of this DST project is that teachers can teach the content face to face as a presentation, and share the Sway so that for those students that need additional access or revision of taught content, they can watch, read, re-read and listen as many times as they need, without judgement or pressure. This added flexibility allows students greater autonomy over their learning and caters to the needs of students with diverse needs, highlighting the potential that digital narrative and media has in engaging disadvantaged learners in textual practices (Mills & Levido, 2011).
Essentially, this DST project is a traditional learning activity that has been redesigned with digital tools to engage learners in a deep and meaningful way, providing flexibility and an element of interactivity. It also allows for a blend of flexible learning and teaching approaches, whilst also providing students with the necessary ICT skills that are vital to 21st century skills of creating, communicating and collaborating. (Morra, 2013; Dzuiban, Hartman and Moskal, 2004).
Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media (pp. 3-15). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=678297&ppg=20
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/english/
Bourne, H. (2020). The Drover’s Wife, Year 11 English Unit 2: Culture and Texts (Sway). Townsville Grammar School Teacher Resources. Townsville Grammar School PF Rowland Library. Townsville. Retrieved from https://sway.office.com/H7SiI7dD7ekK5KLr?ref=Link
Cullen, M. (2015). How is Interactive Media Changing the Way Children Learn? Education Technology Solutions. Retrieved from https://educationtechnologysolutions.com/2015/12/how-is-interactive-media-changing-the-way-children-learn/
Dziuban C, Hartman J. & Moskal, P. 2004. Blended Learning Educause. Vol 2004, issue 7. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/libary/pdf/ERB0407
Kopka, S. & Hobbs, R., (2014). Transmedia & Education: Using Transmedia in the Classroom with a Focus on Interactive Literature [Blog]. SeKopka. Retrieved from https://sekopka.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/transmedia-education-using-transmedia-in-the-classroom-with-a-focus-on-interactive-literature/
Hall, T. (2011). Digital renaissance: The creative potential of narrative technology in education. Creative Education, 3(1), 96-100.
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Mills, K., & Levido, A. (2011). iPed:Pedagogy for digital text production. Reading Teacher, 65(1), 80-9. Retrieved from http://exproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=73908381&site=ehost-pve
Morra, A. (2010). Eight steps to great storytelling. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://edtechteacher.org/8-steps-to-great-storytelling-from-samantha-onedudemic/
Microsoft. (n.d.). Sway. Retrieved September 15, 2020 from https://sway.office.com/
Powtoon. (n.d.). Bring awesomeness to your classroom. Retrieved September 16, 2020 from https://www.powtoon.com/edu-home/
Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Shang, Y., & Gray, E. (2014). Young children’s engagement with e-books at school: does device matter? Sage Open, 4. doi: 10.1177/2158244013517244.
Vimeo. (n.d.). We’ve got a thing for video. Retrieved September 16, 2020 from https://vimeo.com/
Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal pteracy:what does it mean for classroom practice? Austrapan Journal of Language and pteracy 33(3), 211 – 239. Retrieved from 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). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=alma990022907270402357&context=L&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en