Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

Case Study: Open Educational Resources and the Teacher Librarian


In an ever expanding digital ecosystem for learning, Open Educational Resources (OER) have emerged. OER were introduced to higher education in 2001 and have become part of the tertiary learning landscape (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015). More recently, the kindergarten to year twelve (K-12) education sector has begun exploring the potential uses of OER. Teacher librarians are educators and information specialists, therefore they have the skills and knowledge to be leaders in the discovery, curation and promotion of OER in their schools (Welz, 2017). This case study aims to explore what teacher librarians, in two different countries, know about OER and how they are supporting teachers to integrate OER into their teaching. The case study is guided by the following research question and sub-questions:

Research Question

What beliefs do secondary teacher librarians in Australia and the United States of America (USA) have about Open Educational Resources (OER) and what strategies, tools and OER repositories are they using to discover, curate and promote OER to teachers in their schools?


  • Are secondary school teacher librarians in Australia and the USA aware of OER?
  • Do teacher librarians share a common understanding of the definition of OER?
  • What are the barriers and benefits for teachers in using OER?
  • How is access to OER changing the role of teacher librarian?
  • How do the strategies, tools and OER repositories used by secondary teacher librarians differ between the two countries?

OER and Teacher Librarians

The researcher is a teacher librarian and acknowledges that her professional experiences may shape her analysis and interpretations. The researcher identified two main objectives of the case study:

  • To personally gain a greater understanding of OER in the K-12 education sector through the lived experiences of teacher librarians.
  • To share teacher librarian’s stories of OER with the wider teacher librarian community.

There are several definitions of OER, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) describes OER as any educational resource that is openly available to educators and students without the requirement to pay royalties or licence fees (Butcher, 2015) and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation define OER as

Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015).

OER meet the 5Rs framework whereby users can retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute content (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). The most common framework for open licensing is Creative Commons whereby the author “seeks to retain copyright over that work, but agrees – through the licence – to give away some of those rights” (Butcher, 2015, p. 8). The growth in OER has been facilitated by web 2.0 technologies that make it easy to repurpose and share digital resources (Butcher, 2015). It is clear from both definitions that OER have the potential to transform educational practices.

Teacher librarians are uniquely qualified within schools as both educators and information specialists. Teacher librarians are experts in finding and collecting authoritative resources in print and digital formats to support the curriculum. Teacher librarians have the skills to evaluate information and the tools to curate it for teachers and students, therefore teacher librarians can be leaders in OER and provide professional development for teachers (Welz, 2017).

In the USA the GoOpen initiative was launched in October 2015 to encourage school districts to use openly licensed educational resources to fill resource gaps in the curriculum and as an alternative to expensive textbooks. (Valenza, 2016). There is no such initiative in Australia, however many government education departments and the non-government sector are beginning to license their resources under Creative Commons (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). OER adoption is far from mainstream, it is an evolving area that can be challenging to navigate (Throgmorton, 2017).


Literature Review

A literature review of OER use in K-12 schools and by teacher librarians was conducted using the Charles Sturt University Library, Google Scholar and internet search engines. Scholarly articles were scarce for the K-12 education sector and literature featuring the Australian context were rare, indicating a void in the literature. A recent United States Department of Education campaign called GoOpen (to encourage the use of OER) was noted in the literature and served as the impetus for further reading, and the curation of useful resources using the curation tool Pearltrees . A case study timeline was proposed and used to manage the case study process.

Research Question

After the literature review, a research question was proposed and went through a collaborative peer review process using the collaborative tools Flipgrid and Voicethread. Feedback on the viability of the research question and the data collection methodology was provided. The research question was refined several times after feedback, and the data collection process was altered.

Data Collection and Metrics

An exploration of what teacher librarians in Australia and the USA are doing today in their schools with OER was of interest. Consequently, a descriptive case study was chosen because it can describe a phenomenon in a real-life situation (Yin, 2014). To gain an understanding of the phenomenon, a qualitative research methodology using multiple sources of data (Baxter & Jack, 2008) was identified as the most appropriate way to explore the research questions. Two data sources were chosen, short semi structured interviews with six teacher librarians as shown in Table 1 and document analysis of six LibGuides (digital library content management system) as shown in Table 2. It was thought that short structured interviews would allow the teacher librarians, three in Australia and three in the USA, to tell their story and the analysis of online documents (LibGuides) would show what is currently happening in the digital space of three school libraries in Australia and three school libraries in the USA.


Name (pseudonym) Country Experience in school libraries (years)
Caroline Australia 15
Max Australia 20
Michelle Australia 15
Steven USA 16
Kelly USA 5
Tanya USA 5

Table 1 Interview subjects


School Label Country
A High School Australia
B High School Australia
C High School Australia
D High School USA
E High School USA
F High School USA

Table 2 LibGuides documents

Fourteen structured interview questions were developed to address the research questions and fit into a thirty minute time frame. Voicethread and Twitter were used to obtain peer feedback on the interview questions and this resulted in some minor changes being made. A spreadsheet titled LibGuides Document Analysis Checklist was created for the document analysis of six school library LibGuides.

The researcher approached members of her personal learning network (PLN) using email and Twitter and asked for their participation. Recruiting three Australian teacher librarians was an easy task but it was more challenging finding three teacher librarians from the USA. A connection from the USA, made during an online global collaboration with between Charles Sturt University (Australia) and Rutgers University (USA), recommended two potential subjects from her PLN. Twitter was also used as a recruitment tool but proved to be unhelpful despite the use of relevant hashtags and handles of influential people in the school library community. The third interview subject was approached via an email address listed on a blog post.

Interviews were scheduled to occur within one week from September 11 to September 17. Two interviews were conducted in person, three using Google Hangouts and one using email. The email interview was a compromise after a last minute interview cancellation from the USA. Audio of all interviews were recorded using the voice memos application on the iPhone. The length of interviews ranged between twenty five and forty minutes and provided sufficient data for analysis. The interviews were transcribed into a Word document and uploaded to NVivo (software for qualitative research). A code map (See Appendix F) was created and the documents were coded according to the code map words.

Six LibGuides were selected randomly from the openly accessible LibGuides Community for analysis, three from Australia and three from the USA. The LibGuides Document Analysis Checklist was used to record evidence of OER.


Teacher Librarians Beliefs of OER: understanding, attitude and role of the teacher librarian

It appears from the six teacher librarians interviewed and the document analysis conducted that teacher librarians have been aware of OER for some time, however only more recently has the term OER become part of their vocabulary. All teacher librarians shared a similar understanding of the definition of OER as educational resources that are free and available online, as summarised in Table 3. This understanding mirrors the UNESCO definition of OER mentioned earlier (Butcher, 2015). Of the six LibGuides examined, the term open educational resources or OER was absent. OER resources found were referred to as free educational resources or as Creative Commons resources. The link OER has with Creative Commons licensing and less stringent copyright restrictions indicated that in this case, teacher librarians are able to distinguish openly licensed works from the “broader swathe of content on the web” (White & Manton, 2011, p. 4). This link was also mentioned by Steven when he described OER as a “silo of open resources that educators can use freely and can remix and reuse for whatever they need for their class” (personal communication, September 15, 2017) and Caroline said that OER “does not have copyright issues attached to it, it has the share-alike element of Creative Commons” (personal communication, September 11, 2017). Although the OER movement began in 2001, it is still in its infancy compared to other educational movements (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015) and therefore the terminology may not be well known.

Name Aware of OER term (years) Keywords used to define OER Attitude towards OER
Caroline 3 Educational, Creative Commons, share Positive
Max 3 Free educational resources Positive
Michelle 5 Free online resources Mostly positive
Steven 1 Free open resources for reuse and/or remix Positive
Kelly 3 Free online educational resources created by teachers Positive
Tanya 5 Free resources Positive

Table 3 Interviewees’ awareness of OER terminology and attitude towards OER

The teacher librarians’ attitudes towards OER were overwhelmingly positive but some did express reservations. For a summary see Table 3. Michelle said “I think it is a case-by-case scenario” (personal communication, September 13, 2017) and Max said “I am weighing up what is commercially provided and what in a sense is free and freely available” (personal communication, September 12, 2017). The ability to share educational resources “by teachers for teachers” (Kelly, personal communication, September 16, 2017) was important to Steven, Caroline and Kelly. Overall, the interviewees felt that, when chosen wisely, OER added valuable digital content to the curriculum that can be “interactive, current, dynamic and relevant” (Kompar, 2016, p. 58). The adoption of digital learning environments in schools is the “perfect storm of change” (Johnson, 2014) and could make OER a more attractive option for the course needs of teachers than traditional resources such as textbooks.

Teacher librarians have a great deal of experience finding and collecting print and digital resources (Welz, 2017). Teacher librarians are educators and information specialists, so they possess the skills to evaluate information, curate it and present it in a meaningful way for teachers and students (Throgmorton, 2017). It is not surprising that when the following question was posed, what is the teacher librarian’s role in OER and why?, that the interviewees spoke of the aforementioned qualities and skills of teacher librarians. Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017), Michelle (personal communication, September 13, 2017) and Caroline (personal communication, September 11, 2017) all stressed that teacher librarians are information specialists who understand the curriculum and can therefore support teachers who may be time poor by finding and evaluating relevant OER. Kelly believes teacher librarians should be “at the forefront of openness and advocate for OER” (personal communication, September 16, 2017) by hosting professional development to raise awareness of OER. Her opinion is shared by academic, Joyce Valenza who has called upon teacher librarians to be ready to take up a curation mandate for OER as it gains momentum from the GoOpen campaign (Valenza, 2016). Similarly, Caroline said teacher librarians are experts in copyright and should be advocating for ethical use of intellectual property. OER provides an avenue for having “tough conversations with teachers about open licensing and copyright infractions” (Throgmorton, 2017). Research by White & Manton (2011) has indicated that professional development can promote the values of sharing, reuse and intellectual property by showing teachers the benefits of OER rather than coercing them to use them. Also related to the teacher librarian’s role are the strategies they employ to curate and promote OER and these will be discussed later in this report.

Challenges of OER: Barriers and benefits

Teacher librarians from both countries identified time constraints as the most significant barrier for the adoption of OER by teachers. Teachers have many demands on their time and to learn about OER requires a substantial time investment, at least initially. Traditional resources such as textbooks are seen as an easier option because they have already been through a review process, whereas OER need to be evaluated individually by teachers (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017). Another barrier commonly mentioned by interviewees from both countries was lack of awareness of OER by teachers (Tanya, personal communication, September 20, 2017). Caroline was concerned that many teachers are using resources unethically because they do not understand the licensing conditions of copyright and Creative Commons (personal communication, September 11, 2017). Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) thought that teachers with limited information and communication technology (ICT) skills might be overwhelmed by the vast number of resources available and hindered by less than user friendly search interfaces. Max’s concern is validated by research conducted by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) that found the “main barriers to the mainstreaming of OER [is] user’s capacity to access, reuse and share OER” (2017, p. 8) and by Thompson (2016) who states that user experience design of OER platforms needs improvement so that teachers and students can find content easily. Steven says a way of overcoming these barriers is for teacher librarians to “go out and advertise the services we can offer…with our flexible schedules [we] could be part of the solution” (personal communication, September 15, 2017). Collaboration with the classroom teacher, embedding OER into lessons and leading by example are methods Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) and Caroline (personal communication, September 11, 2017) use to raise the profile of all library resources, including OER, to their teachers.

The teacher librarians identified three benefits OER could have for teachers. Firstly, OER provide an alternative to using textbooks that can date quickly and are often expensive. Secondly, the flexibility of open licensing allows teachers (and students) to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain content using the 5Rs Framework (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). Thirdly, the teacher librarians from the USA noted that many OER are created by teachers and are aligned with curriculum standards so they are ready for immediate use. These benefits, coupled with a digital learning environment or learning management system, provide teachers with a myriad of options for delivering digital content and for designing courses if they have the necessary ICT skills (Kompar, 2016) and support.

Strategies Employed by Teacher Librarians: OER discovery, curation, promotion and repositories

Connected educators cultivate personal learning networks by forging relationships with the people they interact with through Twitter and other social media. A PLN can offer support and advice when required (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). The most popular tool for discovering OER in this case study was Twitter, closely followed by blogs. Michelle commented that personal recommendations by members of her PLN were highly valued because she was aware of their reputation and trusted their judgment (personal communication, September 13, 2017). Tanya follows educators through Twitter and blogs and looks to her PLN for recommendations and advice when searching for OER (personal communication, September 20, 2017). The JISC-funded OER Impact Study (2011) also found that peer networks and offline recommendations were important and suggests that educators with a social model of knowledge (such as those interviewed for this case study) may be more comfortable sharing and reusing OER. Kelly (personal communication, September 16, 2017) and Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) also suggested that reading scholarly articles was a good way to discover and learn more about OER, while Steven found it easier to go directly to the repository OER Commons as a “one-stop-shop” (personal communication, September 15, 2017).

According to Joyce Valenza teacher librarians have always “been around to tame the information flow, to facilitate discovery and knowledge building” therefore “digital curation is a translation and amplification of our traditional practice” (2017, para. 11). The teacher librarians in this case study use a variety of curation strategies to organise, annotate and present carefully selected resources to their teachers and students (Kanter, 2011). LibGuides and the library website were favoured as curation platforms and the place to house custom built research guides, also known as hyperdocs, for particular topics or courses. Learning management systems such as Google Classroom and OneNote were also utilised to share resources with faculty (Michelle, personal communication, September 13, 2017) and “to go where the kids are” (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017).

Regardless of their country of origin, the teacher librarians in this case believed talking to individual teachers directly was the best approach for promoting OER so that specific curriculum needs could targeted using a blend of OER and commercial resources. Speaking at faculty meetings and conducting professional development were other strategies preferred by the interviewees. Evidence from the JISC-funded OER Impact Study also suggests that “staff development activities provide an effective avenue to promote the value of sharing and reuse” (White & Manton, 2011, p. 27). Caroline also highlighted that it was important that teacher librarians are OER role models and “do it and create content by example” (personal communication, September 11, 2017).

Research by the Commonwealth of Learning (2017) found that there was a low awareness of OER repositories amongst stakeholders. The teacher librarians and the LibGuides analysed in this case indicate that teacher librarians are more aware of OER repositories than those stakeholders. The number of repositories named by the interviewees and listed on LibGuides did however vary between individuals. F High School explained Creative Commons but did not provide curated lists of OER, whereas all the other schools did. Common repositories were used in both countries, alongside more locally specific ones. Repositories that were not strictly OER and contained licensed or copyrighted material also featured and emphasised the need for careful curation by teacher librarians. Table 4 lists all repositories mentioned by interviewees and featured on LibGuides.




Country of interviewee or LibGuide Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

ABC Splash

(provided for personal, non-commercial use but retains copyright)


British Library via Flickr*

(mostly Public Domain but exceptions)

Burst* Australia
CCMixter* USA


(contains copyrighted work and Creative Commons)



(provided for personal, non-commercial use but retains copyright)


Creative Commons Australia
Curriki USA
Digital Citizenship course Australia


(provided for personal, non-commercial use but retains copyright)

EduPic* Australia
EngageNY USA


(contains copyrighted works and Public Domain)

FlickrCC* Australia

Free Music Archive*

(mostly Creative Commons but exceptions)

Free Sound* USA
Gooru Australia
Imagebase* USA and Australia

Khan Academy

(mostly Creative Commons but exceptions)

USA and Australia

Library of Congress

(contains copyrighted works and Public Domain)

The Moving Image Archive USA

New York Public Library Digital Collection

(contains copyrighted works and Public Domain)

Open Culture Australia
OER Commons USA


(provided for personal, non-commercial use but retains copyright)

Open Photo* USA
Photos for Class* Australia
Pics4Learning* Australia
Pixabay* USA and Australia
Project Gutenberg Australia
The Public Domain Review USA
Scootle Australia
Share my lesson USA

State Library of Victoria

(Contains copyrighted works and Public Domain)

StockVault* USA and Australia
Ted (mostly Creative Commons but exceptions) USA and Australia


(mostly Creative Commons but exceptions)

USA and Australia


(mostly Creative Commons but exceptions)



(mostly Creative Commons but exceptions)



U.S. Government Photos

(mostly Public Domain but exceptions

Wikimedia Commons USA
Wylio* USA


(contains copyrighted works, Creative Commons)



Please note: Image or Audio repositories are indicated by an asterisk *

Table 4 Repositories mentioned by interviewees and LibGuides

Conclusion and Recommendations

Openly licensed OER give teachers a flexible alternative to many commercial resources and the potential for personalised learning in a blended learning environment (Butcher, 2015). OER complement existing print and digital resources but can be difficult to find and must be carefully evaluated. OER is an emerging global phenomenon in K-12 education and of interest to connected teacher librarians who are writing blogs, conducting webinars and writing articles to encourage other teacher librarians to embrace OER and become leaders within their schools (Valenza, 2016). The teacher librarians in this case are connected educators who do not yet consider themselves OER experts, but are willing to learn more about OER and confront the challenges of what can be a confusing information landscape for teachers and students. OER provides opportunities for teacher librarians all over the world to redefine their role and be the OER experts in their school. “We need to advertise and talk it up and we have to be willing to go where the teachers are” (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017). This case study recommends that teacher librarians take the lead and play a vital role in advocating for the adoption of OER by collaborating one-on-one with teachers, conducting professional development and by curating high-quality content that meets the diverse needs of their school communities.



Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and Implementation for Novice Researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559. Retrieved from

Butcher, N. (2015). A basic guide to open educational resources (OER). Retrieved from

Commonwealth of Learning. (2017). Open educational resources: Global report 2017. Retrieved from

Johnson, D. (2014). Open Educational Resources: On the Web and Free. Educational Leadership, 71(6), 85-86. Retrieved from

Kanter, B. (2011, October 4). Content curation primer [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Kompar, F. (2016). The trending librarian. Teacher Librarian, 44(1), 58-63. Retrieved from

National Copyright Unit. (n.d.). Open education resources. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter, H. L. (2011). Connected educator, the : learning and leading in a digital age. Retrieved from

Thompson, G. (2016). What’s hot, and what’s losing steam in ed tech in 2016: our expert panelists weigh in on education technology to give us their verdict on which approaches to tech-enabled learning will have a major impact, which ones are stagnating and which ones might be better forgotten entirely. T H E Journal [Technological Horizons In Education], 43, (1), 24. Retrieved from

Throgmorton, K. (2017). Open educational resources: redefining the role of school librarians. American Libraries, 48 (September/October), 16-17. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2016, February, 28). OER and you: The curation mandate [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2017, July 5). Curation situations: Let us count the ways [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Weller, M., de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Pitt, B., & McAndrew, P. (2015). The Impact of OER on Teaching and Learning Practice. Open Praxis, 7(4), 351-361. doi:

Welz, K. (2017). School librarians and open educational resources aid and implement common core instructional content in the classroom. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 62-68. Retrieved from

White, D., & Manton, M. (2011). JISC-funded OER impact study. Retrieved

Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: design and methods. Los Angeles: Sage.


Critical Reflection

Three years ago in my first blog post for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age (INF530) I wrote that I was “nervous but extremely excited to get my masters started” (Malbon, 2015, para 1). The nerves never really went away, but with each subject I gained more knowledge and my confidence as a modern learner and digital scholar increased.

In the first colloquium of Digital Futures Colloquium (INF537), Bruce Dixon of Modern Learners said modern learners are:

  • Inquiry-based
  • Social (i.e. connected)
  • Self-directed

(Dixon, personal communication, July 23, 2017).

For the remainder of this post I will reflect on the above three attributes of a modern learner in the context of being a student of INF537.


The final assessment for INF537, a case study with a topic of my own choosing, is the culmination of my learning over the last three years. Case study research is an iterative process and drew on the design thinking skills I developed in Designing Spaces for Learning (INF536)The topic of my case study, Open Educational Resources (OER), was inspired by the reading I did for my Digital Scholarship Interpretive Discussion Paper . Through research I wanted to learn more about the potential OER could have for the kindergarten to year 12 (K-12) education sector that I work in. My case study showed that as a teacher librarian I can play a pivotal leadership role in advocating for OER use and can assist teachers to use them.

Social (i.e. connected)

Prior to starting this course I was already dipping my toes into being a social learner by using social media and cultivating a PLN. Early in INF530 I was introduced to Connected Learning and the idea that knowledge and expertise can be derived from various avenues and through supportive networks (Ito, 2013). During Knowledge Networking for Educators (INF532) I reached out to my PLN via Twitter and connected with experts on digital curation and was thrilled when they not only helped me but shared my digital artefact with their own networks.   

I was very fortunate this session to be involved in an online global collaboration with Rutgers University in the United States of America (USA). Julie Lindsay facilitated asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for us to connect. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to use Flipgrid for the first time to share my thoughts on being a connected educator. I was able to connect with a library hero of mine from the USA, Joyce Valenza. I look forward to participating in more global connections for informal learning and hopefully in the school library too.

With my case study I asked for help and feedback, and reciprocated when classmates reached out. I have developed a “feedback toolkit” of Flipgrid, Voicethread, GoogleDocs and Twitter that will be useful in my workplace and for lifelong learning.


During this course I have strived to go beyond the required reading and participate in discussion forums, online forums and the unofficial backchannel, Twitter. I have used countless videos sourced from YouTube, Ted and PLN recommendations to help me understand difficult concepts. Using a blend of open resources and Charles Sturt University Library pay-wall resources, I have taken initiative for my learning and taught myself how to use many different web 2.0 tools along the way. I am a digital scholar who uses participatory network technologies in my daily life for entertainment and to learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). As a teacher librarian I want to model these skills and help educate colleagues and students to become digital scholars.  

As I said in my first INF537 blog post , I appreciate that throughout this course I have been given numerous opportunities to pursue my own interests and encouraged by my academic mentors to be a digital, open and networked scholar” (Weller, 2011). My masters may be over but the knowledge and skills I have gained will be applied now and into the future.


Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2015, March 2). Getting started with my masters [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning A new culture of change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace.

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar. [Kindle version]. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved from


Critical Reflection

I was quite nervous when I embarked upon the subject Game Based Learning (INF541) and admitted this in my introductory forum post. My trepidation was due to my limited experience and knowledge of digital games. In Blog task 1 I stated that “my personal video game history was rather historical” (Malbon, 2017, para 1) and dated back to the 1980s.

Atari 2600 flickr photo by moparx shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

My professional exposure to game based learning (GBL) was limited to observing students playing both educational games and recreational games in the school library. My aims for INF541 were to:

  • overcome my lack of knowledge and experience of GBL
  • understand the applicability of games for learning within a library setting
  • be able to confidently share my learning with my colleagues

Although I could see the potential of integrating GBL, I felt unqualified to do so. I  also had some concerns about the challenging aspects of commercial-off-the- shelf (COTS) video games. Most of my views were informed by the mainstream media who are quick to blame video games for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). I acknowledged that other teachers may share similar views as me in the blog post Social and cultural barriers and suggested strategies to overcome the negativity, barriers and tensions. One of these strategies was professional learning and I feel that I have made a good start by completing INF541 and will continue learning via my professional learning network (PLN) and the curation of my Pearltrees board on GBL.

Created by Karen Malbon

Games have their own literacy (Gee, 2012) and shared culture (Montola, 2012). I did not feel part of the culture of gaming, was unfamiliar with the language and lacked game literacy. In the blog post Learning a new language I wrote of how overwhelmed I was by acronyms and the steep learning curve to understand ludology. I created a glossary so that I could make sense of the module readings that were filled with unfamiliar language. I delved into the participatory spaces, also known as affinity spaces, where players share and create knowledge about their common interest using wikis, forums and videos (Gee, 2012). In the blog post Information behaviour I curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate the interest driven communities for Minecraft and 80 Days. As an information professional I was impressed by information behaviour that contributed to these sites and could see parallels to information seeking in the library (Adams, 2009).

Created by Karen Malbon

The links of game mechanics, game design characteristics and game infrastructure, motivation and engagement to learning became clearer to me after playing Ingress, Spent, Free Rice and by watching walkthroughs of Minecraft, Firewatch and 80 Days. My novice journey as Agent Kleem9 with the location based multiplayer game (LBMG) Ingress was documented in the blog post Ingress. As I began to understand the mechanics of playing Ingress and received instant feedback on my actions, I became immersed in the virtual world and motivated to play, level up and contribute to the narrative. I could see educational applications of Ingress for senior students in a variety of subject areas but at the same time I was concerned about privacy and safety issues (Hulsey & Reeves, 2014). I discussed these barriers to using games in schools in the forum with Lisa Nash (Nash, 2017).

Over the last twelve weeks I have not emerged as a gamer but I have achieved my aims and become more knowledgeable about GBL. I have been exposed to research and opposing viewpoints on the pedagogy of GBL and the link games have to existing educational learning theories. I have experienced the characteristics of games that can potentially make them motivating and engaging. The social-cultural aspect of gaming and the learning that happens outside of the game through affinity spaces is really exciting and as a teacher librarian I can see opportunities for libraries and teaching that I wish to investigate further and implement. Game Over? No way,  the game it is just paused so that I can learn more with evidence based research and play.


Adams, S. S. (2009). The case for video games in libraries. Library Review, 58(3), 196-202. doi: 10.1108/00242530910942045

Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., de Wever, B., & Schellens, T. (2011). Parental acceptance of digital game-based learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1434-1444. doi:

Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.
Hulsey, N., & Reeves, J. (2014). The gift that keeps on giving: Google, ingress, and the gift of surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 12(3), 389-400. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2017, March 4). Blog task 1 [Blog post]. Retreived from

Montola, M. (2011). Social Constructionism and Ludology. Simulation & Gaming, 43(3), 300-320. doi:10.1177/1046878111422111

Nash, L. (2017, April 24). Remediation and storytelling – Play Ingress, tell your story [Online forum comment]. Retreived from


Images created by Karen Malbon contain CC0 images from Pixabay

Blog Task 1

Are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education’ reform?

My personal video game history is rather historical. It centres around the early video games of the 1980s; Pong, Space Invaders, Frogger, Pacman and Donkey Kong. As video games developed in the late 1980s I was more interested in music and impending adulthood and lost interest in video games.

Atari 2600 by moparx, on Flickr
Atari 2600” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by moparx

As a teacher librarian I have watched students play games in the library for entertainment and learning but have not been involved in curricular decisions or been motivated to learn more about game based learning. I was first made aware of game based learning in the 1990s when secondary students were involved in playing the Sharemarket Game . Students were so engaged and rushed into the library to check whether they had made “money” or lost it. The Sharemarket Game demonstrated to me that games with an educational intent could also be highly motivating (Jennings, 2014).

I admire proponents of game based learning such as Rebecca Martin (Jennings, 2014) who are willing to integrate games into learning however I feel unqualified to do so. I am not a gamer and admit that up until now I have had little interest in becoming one because I have so many other interests. I am not part of the culture of games (Jennings, 2014) and I don’t speak the language so I feel inadequate. I am out of my comfort zone.


I am certainly not anti-games but like Dr Beavis I have some concerns about their affect on learning (Jennings, 2014). I see the potential games have for practicing 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity (Extra Credits, 2014) but believe more research is required. In recent years public libraries have embraced video games and makerspaces to appeal to the community and makerspaces are becoming more common in school libraries too. Professionally I need to up-skill so that I can make informed decisions.

The popular media and my own professional reading around digital education is dominated by the word coding. Coding is considered a future work skill by governments and a way of moving students from being consumers of technology to creators (Turnbull, 2014). The focus on technology and STEM may give more legitimacy to digital games for learning and result in more research.

My personal aims:

  • overcome my lack of knowledge and experience of game based learning
  • understand the applicability of games for learning within a library setting
  • be able to confidently share my learning with my colleagues

My challenges:

  • do I have to be a gamer in order to embrace games for learning?
  • lack of experience and confidence with recent video game technologies
  • maintaining a growth mindset when things get difficult


Extra Credits [User name]. 2014 May 14. How games prepare you for life – Education: 21st century skills [Video file]. Retrieved from

Jennings, J. (2014, November 30). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Turnbull, M. (2014, October 24). Speech: The Importance of Tech Education in Our Schools [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Evaluative Report


(a) Evaluative statement

Information and knowledge are no longer only bound in books or broadcast by television and radio networks, they have been set free. The internet has forever changed the way information is distributed, consumed and shared (De Saulles, 2012). Where once information was scarce and the preserve of the elite, it is now plentiful and potentially available to anyone with the skills to manage and exploit it (Wesch, 2009).

The defining characteristics of New models of information production (Malbon, 2016) include access to free or low cost information from local and global sources, web 2.0 tools for the consumption and creation of information and knowledge and network capabilities for communication and collaboration. According to Wesch (2009), these new and emerging models exist because of technology and network infrastructure but the way they are appropriated and harnessed is a social revolution. New and emerging models of information production have disrupted existing systems (Wheeler, 2015) and present challenges and opportunities for educators and information professionals in areas such as digital literacy, digital citizenship and knowledge management. For equitable participation in society, educational institutions must teach students about networks, while also using these networks (Pegrum,2010). 

In addition to information and digital literacy, network literacy (Malbon, 2016) is essential for lifelong learning. Rheingold (2011) asserts that network literacy allows people to form groups, participate and innovate. Networks are not new. People have been gathering, participating in communities and sharing common interests long before mass computing came along. Networked publics, mediated by social media allow people to connect and construct communities without geography being an issue (boyd, 2014). As the internet was emerging McClure (1994) could foresee that new skills would be required to use electronic information effectively. McClure was concerned that individuals that were network illiterate would be disadvantaged and become second-class citizens. Sixteen years later and with the impact of the social networks, Pegrum (2010) also stated that without network literacy, individuals risk being excluded from society. Schools therefore have a role to play in teaching students how to navigate networks for informal and formal learning.

In a networked society, schools and the transfer of knowledge by teachers are just one node in a student’s network (Pegrum, 2010). Many young people, but certainly not all, have the ability to leverage digital media to pursue personal interests outside of school (Ito, 2013). A Connected educator (Malbon, 2016), as reflected on in the blog post, realises that network learning is possible in the classroom too and takes advantage of blogs, wikis, collaborative tools, social networks and other digital tools for engagement and learning. Educators have to understand the tools and technology themselves before they can share their knowledge with their students (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). Looking into the future (Malbon, 2016) outlines the trends that are beginning to impact schools and the need for educators to adapt. Connected learning is becoming possible with the increase in one-to-one computing, network infrastructure that includes wi-fi and cloud computing and the inclusion of twenty-first century skills in government curriculums. The difficulty in assessing so called “soft skills” (Scardamalia, Bransford, Kozma & Quellmalz, 2011) is a barrier that has to be overcome by innovative educators.

Becoming a connected educator involves taking ownership of one’s learning and being willing to share successes, failures and learning with others. The shift from isolation to connecting and sharing takes time and effort (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). Self-directed learning and the development of a personal learning network (PLN) is crucial to adapting to a changing digital environment (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen & Sloep, 2012). Face-to-face networking can occur in person or can be mediated by technology. My first Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016) is an example of how networks can leverage technology to organise “in real life” events. Exploring and learning how to use web 2.0 tools such as Storify, Tweetdeck, LinkedIn (Malbon, 2016) is made easier by online tutorials and reviews. By playing with tools, strengths and weaknesses can be identified and application to one’s own situation or to the classroom determined (Wheeler, 2015). Once an educator is familiar with a variety of tools and new information seeking strategies, decisions can be made on appropriate pedagogical approaches.

The development of a PLN, use of web 2.0 tools and social networks can lead to information overload (Christozov & Toleva-Stoimenova, 2013). Strategies to filter and critically evaluate information are essential to manage and make sense of information (Jarche, 2010). Digital curation is an information life skill for educators and students (Valenza, 2012). The blog post Digital curation and Storify (Malbon, 2016) is both an example of digital curation and confirmation of its importance to lifelong learning. The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students acknowledge that students need to critically curate using digital tools to be effective knowledge constructors (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016). Consequently educators will need to model digital curation and teach students how to locate, select, analyse, organise and present information (Antonio & Tuffley, 2015).

Delivering learner-centred instruction that utilises blended learning is achievable in schools with good information technology infrastructure and one-to-one mobile device policies. Knowledge of instructional design can assist educators to produce artefacts, make use of distributed resources (Prensky, 2010) and take advantage of collaborative opportunities. A novice attempt at using instructional design to produce a short video for use in a blended classroom can be viewed in the blog post Knowledge networking artefact (Malbon, 2016). The willingness to experiment with tools, make mistakes, gain feedback and share the artefact with others resulted in a valuable resource for the creator and their PLN to use in a blended environment. Viewing and critiquing other people’s artefacts also helps in recognising instructional design elements and how they contribute to engagement and learning. Peer review such as Critique – What is a PLN (Malbon, 2016) also provides constructive feedback to the creator that can be taken into consideration for future artefacts.

The cultivation of skills for self-directed and lifelong learning are essential in an ever changing technological world and knowledge-based economy where “everything – and everyone – around us can be seen as resources for learning” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 32). Learning, growing and exploring (Malbon, 2016) is supported and facilitated by our personalised networks.  


(b) Reflective Statement

I am a teacher librarian and describe myself an information professional so I was quite confident when I began studying Knowledge networking for educators (INF532). Filtering, sifting, organising, analysing, categorising and presenting information and knowledge are skills I learned in my undergraduate degree twenty-three years ago and have continued to develop using my personal learning network (PLN).

In my blog post Network Literacy (Malbon, 2016) I reflected on how networks have changed during my adult life. As an undergraduate student I received no formal education or training using the internet because it was not available. I had to be a self-directed learner and learn about the internet informally using books, asking colleagues questions and by using it.

Fast forward to 2016 and I am learning about information production, distribution and transmission in a formal university setting, however this university online. I access my course material through a learning management system, I attend virtual meetings and I can use the library twenty-four hours a day. I openly and regularly discuss course content in an online forum and I use Twitter (@KMalbon) to connect and share resources with my peers using the hashtag #INF532. Collaboration with my assigned module summary group was made easy using the collaborative features of Google Docs and Google Hangouts allow me to have face-to-face conversations. With five subjects already completed and a digital toolkit established I felt that I was well on my way to being a connected educator.

A connected educator directs their own learning, connects and collaborates so they can grow professionally (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). With technology and web 2.0 tools, educators are no longer restrained by geography and the need to meet face-to-face. Educators can connect synchronously and asynchronously using social networks and web 2.0 tools to communicate, collaborate, curate and create (Whitby, 2014). When writing my Connected Educator Reflection (Malbon, 2016) blog post I realised that my participation levels were not that high. I consumed information, shared interesting links and articles with colleagues and curated material for myself but I was hesitant to start conversations or be involved in collaborative projects.

flickr photo shared by kleem9 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Following on from two comments I made in forum 2.2 and 2.4 I set myself some goals to become more connected:

  • Comment on blog posts (Thinkspace and external) and reply to comments on my blog
  • Ask questions on Twitter and participate in a Twitter chat
  • Participate in a Teachmeet
  • Share my knowledge networking artefact through various social networks
  • Progress from aggregating resources for myself to curating resources and sharing with my PLN
  • Share what I have learned from INF532 with my colleagues at work

Using my already established Feedly account I followed and categorised INF532 student blog posts. I felt that I got to know my fellow students better by commenting on their blog posts. Some of the comments led to mini conversations taking place in the comments section such as these with Emma (Hinchcliffe, 2016) and Kelly (Hollis, 2016). I also commented on a blog post by Kaye Oddone (Oddone, 2016) on content curation that helped me to clarify the topic of my knowledge networking artefact. My initial comment led to a conversation between Kaye, myself and content curation guru Robin Good. I also made an effort to reply to most of the comments made on my blog posts like I have here on the post My First Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016). Commenting and replying to blog posts was so valuable to me during INF532. I was no longer just following people and passively consuming content, I was engaging. I was able to discuss, share knowledge, ask questions, provide feedback and get feedback.

Early in the session I nervously participated in my first Teachmeet and then reflected on it with the blog post, My First Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016). Teachmeets are a wonderful blend of face-to-face and online network learning. Organised by educators for educators, the aim of a Teachmeet is to share experiences with your peers (New South Wales Department of Education, 2016) using short face-to-face presentations and continuing conversations using a Twitter hashtag. I have found that Teachmeets allow me to direct my own learning, improve my professional practice and strengthen my personal learning network. I have signed myself up to present at  another Teachmeet Melbourne in November.

Retrieved from

Twitter has been an essential tool in my PLN for a number of years but I was not using it to its full potential. I increased my participation level by asking questions, answering questions and having more conversations. Although most of my questions went unanswered, the reward I got when someone replied to them was thrilling. I tweeted my knowledge networking artefact directly to some curation experts and as shown in my blog post Knowledge Networking Artefact (Malbon, 2016) they replied and shared my artefact with their PLN. The sharing of my knowledge networking artefact to my PLN on Twitter and Facebook has resulted in my artefact being viewed on YouTube 169 times. 

Unfortunately my goal to participate in Twitter chats was not fully realised. I used TweetDeck to participate in the #INF532 Twitter chat and found it an exhilarating experience. Now that I have some more time available to me I will definitely be participating in some more Twitter chats. As explained in my blog post, TweetDeck (Malbon, 2016) is now part of my personal knowledge management strategy (Jarche, 2013) because after a little practice it makes following hashtags and participating in Twitter chats easier.

As a teacher librarian I have always been collegial and willing to share my experiences and resources with others through my PLN. I was already sharing through social networks and curation platforms but INF532 has given me the confidence to take the next step. I have discovered new tools and increased my participation level in my PLN so I am ready to model and provide leadership to my colleagues in knowledge networking, developing a PLN and becoming connected educators. I would also like help students cultivate their social networks and PLN for learning (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011). In the blog post Looking into the future (Malbon, 2016) I noted trends such as online learning and students as creators that the library must support and resource. The instructional design knowledge I have acquired will be extremely beneficial in developing a digital library for students to access anytime and anywhere and in the design of blended learning experiences. I am a teacher librarian who is becoming a connected educator by being a networked, lifelong learner.


Antonio, A., & Tuffley, D. (2015). Promoting Information Literacy in Higher Education through Digital Curation. M/C Journal, 18(4). Retrieved from

boyd, d. (2014). It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens. London: Yale University Press

Christozov, D., & Toleva-Stoimenova, S. (2013). Knowledge Diffusion via Social Networks: The 21st Century Challenge. International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence (IJDLDC), 2(4), 1-12. doi:10.4018/jdldc.2013040101

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0 : new models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). London : Facet.

Hinchcliffe, E. (2016, September 21). Content curation and the digital age [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Hollis, K. (2016, September, 25). Building a knowledge network [Blog post]. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., . . . Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from Irvine, California:

Jarche, H. (2010). Network learning: Working smarter with PKM. Life in perpetual beta. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2016, July 17).  Discovering a philosophy of information in digital environments [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, July 26). Connected educator reflection [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, August 4). Network literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, August 25). Digital curation and Storify [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, September 14). Knowledge networking artefact [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, September 21). Looking into the future [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, September 28). TweetDeck [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, October 3). Critique – what is a PLN?  [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, October 5). Learning, growing and exploring [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, October 5). LinkedIn [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Malbon K. (2016, October 5). My first Teachmeet [Blog post]. Retrieved from

McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

New South Wales Department of Education. (2016). What is a Teachmeet? Retrived from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter Hall, L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press.

Oddone, K. (2016, August 3). Digital content curation: More important that ever! [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network Literacy as a Core Digital Literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354. doi:10.2304/elea.2010.7.4.346

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning. London: Sage.

Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & Sloep, P. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1). doi:10.5210/fm.v17i1.3559

Rheingold, H. (2012). Introduction: Why you need digital know-how—Why we all need it. In Net smart: How to thrive online. Retrieved from

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks : using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Victoria: Solution Tree Press.

Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Netherlands: Springer Retrieved from

Wesch, M. (2009, January 7). From kowledgable to knowledge-able: learning in new media environments [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. K. (2012). Curation. School Library Monthly, 29(1).

Wheeler, S. (2015). Learning with ‘e’s: Educational theory and practice in the digital age. [Kindle edition].

Whitby, T. (2014, October 1). The connected educator: It begins with collaboration. Retrieved from


Critical Reflection – Digital Citizenship in Schools

As a Teacher Librarian I have always taken an interest in digital literacy and digital citizenship by reading and curating relevant articles for my own personal learning and to share with my colleagues. I understood the definition of digital citizenship to be the safe, responsible and ethical use of information and technology and the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship confirmed my thinking.

flickr photo by sylviaduckworth shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

After exploring other models of digital citizenship it became clear to me that I had underestimated the complexities of digital citizenship. Using network technology in a global world involves technical, individual, social, cultural and global awareness as illustrated in the Enlightened Digital Citizenship model.

Before starting this subject I had not given much thought to the relationship digital citizenship had with digital learning environments. I reflected on my own digital learning environment and the literacies and skills required to use them effectively. I actively embrace and play with mobile technology, social media and a plethora of digital tools in a responsible manner but some of my colleagues are not as aware or lack confidence. Some of the tools I use for personal reasons are now becoming part of the school’s evolving digital learning environment and placing new demands on teachers and students. The visual representation of my personal learning network (PLN) in my blog post  illustrates the role technology plays in my learning and the importance I place on lifelong learning. I reiterated this by commenting in forum 2.2 that it is imperative that I am a connected educator to meet current and future digital fluency needs and to model lifelong learning within my school community.

Assignment one was a living, breathing example of a participatory digital learning environment in action. As team member Heather said in her reflective blog post,

It was clear from the assessment rubric and online class meeting that this assignment was as much about learning about and through collaboration as it was about the particular aspect of digital citizenship we had elected to focus on.

Working collaboratively, team 5.2 created a learning module hosted on a wiki using a variety of communication and collaboration tools that Donald Tapscott refers to as “weapons of mass collaboration” (Richardson, 2008, para. 20). Digital citizenship theory was put into practice using an authentic learning task that visibly revealed our digital footprints, use of digital tools and collaborative efforts. The value of learning by doing was made very clear to me through this assignment. Teachers can apply similar methods by flattening their classrooms or lowering the walls so that students can learn by collaborating locally or globally (Lindsay, 2013), however as discussed in the forums, some challenges and barriers need to be overcome.

Given suitable digital infrastructure we can “learn whatever we want, wherever we want from whomever we want” in today’s digital ecology (Richardson, 2008). The tools that students use outside of school and increasingly at school, allow them to connect, collaborate, communicate and create. These are examples of twenty-first century skills and capabilities that along with critical thinking and digital citizenship are being encouraged by education systems around the world. Wherever possible teacher librarians weave digital citizenship and digital literacy into classes to spread the message, however I have learnt through this subject that embedding digital citizenship into the curriculum is best practice. The entire school community must develop common ground to educate students in a proactive rather than reactive way (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011).

I have learnt an enormous amount about digital citizenship in schools by engaging with the module content, participating in lively discussions in the forums, connecting on Twitter and meeting virtually with Julie Lindsay and my fellow class members. It is now up to me to show my school community what effective digital citizenship practice is through my own actions.


Bailie, H. (2016, May 19). Assignment one reflection. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital Citizenship in K-12: It Takes a Village. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0510-z

Lindsay, J. (2013). Leadership for a global future. In E-Learning journeys.
Retrieved from


Richardson, W. (2008, December 3). World without walls: Learning well with others In Edutopia. Retrieved from

Part B: Critical Reflection

Retrieved from

Design is all around us and I use products, services and spaces that have been designed for a purpose. Professional designers such as architects, engineers, artists, fashion designers and interior designers have expert skills that I do not possess. I do not consider myself a naturally creative person but I am willing to try and learn with my hobby of photography. David Kelley says we shouldn’t opt out of creativity but develop creative confidence (Ted, 2012). I have been able to improve my creative confidence with my hobby but could I do this in other areas such as design? It is argued that creativity is a set of thinking skills and anyone who develops and transforms an idea into a new and desirable artefact is a designer (Kuratko, Goldworthy & Hornsby, 2012).

To think like a designer an educator needs to learn new skills. The processes and skills of design thinking have been taken up by non-design industries. The terminology around design thinking varies but involves needfinding, brainstorming (or ideating) and prototyping (Siedel & Fixson, 2013). In assessment task one, I applied this process to my own problem space. I identified a digital space within the library that was being under-utilised and looked at new ways it could be used and came up with a prototype on paper. Initially I was concentrating on my own needs rather than those of the learner but in a later blog post I recognised that the outcome would depend on the library users.

Empathy is a core capacity for thinking like a designer (Forum post 3.6). According to Brown & Katz (2011) insight can occur when we connect with the people we are observing through empathy. I put my observation skills to the test in assessment task two by spending twenty minutes watching and listening and noticing the activities and design of an Aldi supermarket. I observe behaviour in the library on a different level now. Teachers and school administrators should apply the same observation techniques to gain insights into the needs of their students rather than making assumptions (Forum post 3.6) or maintaining status quo.

The iterative process of play, display and watch the replay (Kuratko, Goldworthy & Hornsby, 2012) resonated with me, so without the fear of failure I transformed a small space in my senior school library into a lunchtime pop-up zone for games, puzzles and colouring (Forum 1.1). The positive impact of the transformed space also reiterated the importance of the library as a meeting space (Forum post 3.2) where students can gather to socialise and learn in an informal setting away from the traditional classroom. Thornburg’s primordial metaphors (Thornburg, 2007) and McIntosh’s Seven Spaces (McIntosh, 2012) have made me more aware of the inadequacies of certain physical and digital learning spaces for learning and where improvements could be made.

Photograph by Karen Malbon

Creative industries such as Pixar and Google are informing the design of learning environments with flexibility, community, visibility and proximity (Blog post 17/9). However an innovative space will not necessarily change practice (Forum post 7.1). Teachers may or may not reimagine their teaching and students may appropriate spaces in unexpected ways (Forum 5.2).

I floundered with some of the concepts of design, was frustrated that amazing innovations were happening elsewhere and was challenged by the complex nature of the relationships with design, learning and space. I will endeavour to put my learning into practice in a rapidly changing digital environment.


Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process Innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking (pp. 103-123). Boston: Pearson. Retrieved from

McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks and bricks: How school buildings influence future practice and technology adoption. Educational Facility Planner, 45(1&2), 33-38. Retrieved from

Seidel, V. P., & Fixson, S. K. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking in Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33. doi:10.1111/jpim.12061

Ted [Username]. 2012, March 12). David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence [Video file]. Retrieved from

Thornburg, D. (2007). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st century. Thornburg Center for Professional Development. Retrieved from:


Part C: Critical Reflection

flickr photo shared by nikkorsnapper under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Throughout history people have been both threatened and excited by the adaptation of storytelling to new mediums with the advent of books, radio, television and the internet (Koskimaa, 2007). Rapid changes in technology are impacting on how we consume information, read and tell stories. (Sadokierski, 2013). The literature landscape is in a time of transition and as I explained in my first assessment task, so am I (Warner, 2013). As a teacher librarian it is essential that I am informed and critical of emerging digital trends in storytelling. Digital literature presents literacy and management challenges but it also provides opportunities for participation, interaction and engagement.

Literature is no longer confined to the printed page and my long established reading practices are becoming increasingly screen based. In forum post 1.2, I considered my knowledge and understanding of digital narratives to be limited. Once I started researching categories of digital literature by Unsworth (2006) and Lamb (2011), I realised that I had been exposed to more digital literature than I had first thought (Blog post). I was familiar with hypertexts, re-contextualised literary texts and linear ebooks but I was unaware of how storytelling could be amplified by interactive ebooks, apps and transmedia. I started exploring the texts recommended on the INF533 Goodreads group and was amazed by what I discovered.

As I explored new forms of storytelling, I became acutely aware of my own weaknesses using the storytelling apps Chopsticks and Midnight Feast. New literacies are required to comprehend and navigate digital literature. Initially I felt lost and didn’t know how to approach the text. Swiping, zooming, pinching and tapping the screen engage haptic perception and Skains suggests readers that lack exposure to this technology may be resistant to engage with the text (2010). “The emerging role of haptic perception in digital reading” (Roskos, Burnstein, Shang, & Gray, 2014, p.6) is increasing with enhanced ebook apps. However, I was motivated by the quality of the stories and gradually discovered additional multimodal affordances by revisiting the apps and therefore improved my digital reading skills.

I was captivated by the interplay of illustrations, images, sound and motion in the interactive graphic novel of The Boat (Blog post). With very few words, meaning was conveyed by engaging aural and visual techniques. There was a synergy between artistic and technical features that is vital for a good quality digital story (Walsh, 2013). New communication technologies have changed the nature of text and additional criteria is required to select and evaluate texts for learning (Yakota & Teale). Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal. “Multimodal texts combine language with other means of communication such as visual images, soundtrack or spoken word” (Walsh, 2013, p. 181). To meet expectations of the Australian Curriculum it is essential that school libraries integrate ebooks into their collections and programmes. (O’Connell, Bales and Mitchell, 2015). As a teacher librarian I need to be informed and bold to meet the challenges of an increasingly digital and multimodal environment that involves Digital Rights Management, licence agreements and emerging formats (Forum post 2.3).

The ubiquitous use of mobile devices has increased internet and social media use by teenagers (Lenhart, 2015). Students are using the internet for social, recreational and informational purposes. Out of school, some students are creating, communicating and telling stories using web 2.0 and social media, however there are still students with low technical skills (Malita, 2010). Getting students to create their own digital stories is one way of embedding digital literacy into the curriculum. In preparing my own digital story for assessment four, I questioned whether I had the necessary skills to create a digital story. I was reminded by Alexander (2011) to consider the audience and concentrate on meaning. I soon realised that I could use my existing skills to research, plan and write the story. (Forum post 4.2) My greatest challenge was how to combine text, images and audio to amplify the story and connect with the intended audience. This requires thinking critically about effective combinations (Malita, 2009). The process of creating a digital artefact has given me the confidence to advise others and model digital storytelling. I have experimented with digital storytelling tools and my fellow students have introduced me to even more that I was unaware of (Forum post 4.2).

Literacy in today’s learning environment is evolving and requires access to diverse texts. Print and digital texts coexist and provide readers with choice. At the beginning of this subject I felt overwhelmed by the challenges involved with managing digital literature in schools and libraries (Forum post 2.3). I am prepared to confront these challenges and apply my learning in the workplace with the knowledge I have gained, the resources I have discovered and the tools I have been introduced to.


Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations, Chapter 1. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. ABC-CLIO.Retrieved from

Koskimaa, R. (2007). Cybertext challenge: Teaching literature in the digital world. Art & Humanities in Higer Education, 6(2), 169-185. doi: 10.1177/1474022207076826

Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3060-3064. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.465

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., & Mitchell, P. (2015). [R]Evolution in reading cultures: 2020 vision for school libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 64(3), 194-208. doi:10.1080/00049670.2015.1048043

Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Shang, Y., & Gray, E. (2014). Young Children’s Engagement With E-Books at School. SAGE Open, 4(1). Retrieved from

Sadokierski, Z. (2013). What is a book in the digital age? The Conversation. Retrieved from

Skains, R. L. (2010). The Shifting Author—Reader Dynamic: Online Novel Communities as a Bridge from Print to Digital Literature. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 95-111. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2005). E-literature for Children : Enhancing Digital Literacy Learning Retrieved from

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. Retrieved from

Warner, M. (2013, May). Welcome to the Hybrid Age of Reading. Retrieved from

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). – Picture Books and the Digital World. – 67(- 8), – 585.  Retrieved from –

Context for Digital Storytelling Project

Assessment Item 4
Part A

Context for Digital Storytelling Project

The ancient art of storytelling has been transformed by technology. Digital storytelling harnesses multimedia and digital tools to communicate in a new way (Malita & Martin, 2010). Digital storytelling is about creating meaning and making it visible to an audience (Tolisano, 2015). A quality digital artefact needs to engage the audience with “an aesthetic synergy between the technical features, the artistic creation of the text and the ideas within it” (Walsh, 2013, p. 187).

Teachers can leverage technology to design curriculum resources that suit diverse learning needs. Instructional multimedia is one form of digital storytelling that is capable of supporting classroom teaching and learning (Kingsley, 2007). Narrative is a powerful tool for student engagement and understanding (Hall, 2012) and multimodal affordances can enhance the message. Interactive white boards, mobile devices and multimodal texts present new opportunities and challenges for educators (O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell).

Students are engaging with technology outside of school and are expecting their reading needs to be met by digital texts (O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell). Research is divided on whether reading on screens impairs comprehension (Jabr, 2013) however it is generally recognised that new literacies are required to navigate multimodal and non-linear digital texts (Walsh, 2010). Students are also becoming creators of their own content, including digital stories and sharing them using easy to use social networking and web 2.0 technologies. Both in and out of the classroom copyright issues arise with the sharing of writing that combines images, sound and video, therefore correct attribution of material and good digital citizenship practices are important (Weigel, 2009).

Ethical use of information in a digital environment is emphasised by the ISTE Standards for Students that requires students to ethically use information from a variety of sources (International Society for Technology in Education, 2015). The Australian Curriculum also addresses the rights of others in the general capabilities and ethics in the technologies curriculum. (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2015). Students and teachers should be aware of copyright and licensing laws when creating documents, blogs, websites and multimedia presentations.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that provides free licences to creators wishing to make their work available to the public under certain conditions. Students and teachers can copy, share and sometimes modify and remix works without seeking permission from the creator (Smartcopying, 2015). Teacher Librarians play an important role in making teachers and students aware of the benefits of Creative Commons and how best to source material with these licences. Creative Commons licensing is also a good way of promoting good digital citizenship and academic honesty (Oldham, 2012).

Non-fiction storytelling is widespread in marketing and public relations (Alexander, 2011) and can be applied in an educational setting. A digital story will be created using Canva to design visuals, Animoto for production and a blog for hosting. The story will introduce students to the concept of Creative Commons and will recommend search strategies for material. Animoto presents images, video and text in a manner that should appeal to visually oriented teenagers. The audience for this digital story will be year eleven students, studying Twentieth Century History for the Victorian Certificate of Education. In area study two, students need to locate and select relevant resources for ‘Movements of the People’ for use in a research task. Using library and online resources, students investigate groups of concerned citizens who came together in the second half of the twentieth century to question war, the environment, globalisation and human rights.

The digital story will be implemented with the history class visiting the library before they commence their research task on ‘movements of the people’. The teacher librarian will use the visible thinking routine, I used to think…,but now I think…to shape the lesson. Students will be asked to share their thoughts, opinions and beliefs about using digital music, images and videos on social media, blogs and for their schoolwork. The teacher librarian will record these responses on the whiteboard or in a Google document. Following this discussion, the digital story will be played on the interactive whiteboard. The teacher librarian will then ask the students if their thoughts, opinions and beliefs have changed since viewing the digital story. With the guidance of the teacher librarian, students will use their iPads to search for images relevant to their chosen movement utilising the Creative Commons tools featured in the digital story. Students will be given the blog link to the digital story so that they can view it again and pause the video according to their individual needs.

The digital story could also be played on the library’s digital signage screen and placed on the library website to reach a wider audience.


Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations, Chapter 1. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. ABC-CLIO.Retrieved from

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). Australian curriculum. Retrieved from

Hall, T. (2012). Digital renaissance: The creative potential of narrative technology in education. Creative Education, 3(1), 96-100. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

Jabr, F. (2013). The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American. Retrieved from

Kingsley, K. V. (2007). Empower Diverse Learners With Educational Technology and Digital Media. Intervention in School & Clinic, 43(1), 52-56. Retrieved from

Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3060-3064. doi:

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., & Mitchell, P. (2015). [R]Evolution in reading cultures: 2020 vision for school libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 64(3), 194-208. doi:10.1080/00049670.2015.1048043

Oldham, L. (2012). Creative Commons: copyright. Computers in New Zealand Schools, 24(1), 77-83. Retrieved from

Smartcopying. (2015). What is Creative Commons?   Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. R. (2015). Digital storytelling: What it is…and…what it is not. Retrieved from

Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal literacy: What does it mean for classroom practice? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 33(3), 211- 239. Retrieved from;dn=413764741373610;res=IELAPA

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. Retrieved from

Weigel, M., & Gardner, H. (2009). The Best of Both Literacies. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 38. Retrieved from


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