Assessment 4, Part A: Context for digital storytelling project

Digital Tools

The digital story ‘Australian Indigenous people as scientists’ covers a variety of Indigenous scientific areas including plants, astronomy, seasons and technology. The project has been created using Google Slides as students in NSW DET schools have access to G Suite for Education. Google Slides can integrate with other Google apps (such as Google forms and Jam) which can be used to assess student knowledge and assist collaboration. Hyperlinking sections increases student engagement and motivation. The use of Google Slides allows for the project to be published to the web for easy viewing. However, for use in school it would be shared on the teacher’s shared drive for access to all staff. Teachers could then share it on Google Classroom, enabling students to complete the activities on their own copy of the slide.

Design

The resource has been created to give teachers background knowledge and resources on Aboriginal knowledge and application of science. It is also designed as a stand-alone resource students in stage two upwards could use independently. The project also aims to increase a sense of belonging and pride for Aboriginal students and impart knowledge to other students.

Copyright regulations have been complied with and modelled by using images available under Creative Commons, sites requiring no attribution and the author’s own images and recordings. Videos have been referenced at the end of the project. Using images from these sources and embedding videos into the Slides (rather than download) ensures that the project can be shared digitally with students and they can make a copy of the work (Smartcopying, n.d.).

Students are easily distracted on the internet, many looking at off-task information (Wu & Xie, 2018, p.244), embedding videos decreases this risk. Slides also presents videos without any advertisements and allows the creator to choose portions of the video to show. Direct links to website pages have been used when required to also minimise student distractions.

There are optional links (shown by symbols) on the project so users can choose to get an overview of the story or delve into further enrichment resources and activities. The use of symbols also helps to orientate the user within the slides and provide choice of direction.

The aim of this project is to impart cultural understanding and make learning more authentic using local knowledge for that Country. This is achieved by using videos containing mostly Aboriginal people speaking of their culture.

Rationale

Indigenous peoples have been portrayed for a long time as ‘primitive’. However, this is not true, as vast amounts of scientific knowledge have been demonstrated throughout Indigenous cultures. Even when recorded, Indigenous knowledge has been discounted. For example, Blandowski’s work over 10 years (1849-1859) recording Aboriginal classification knowledge was never published (von Zinnenburg Carroll, 2014). This perpetual stereotyping of Aboriginal peoples has led to a lack of esteem in culture, particularly in science. Indeed, some Aboriginal people see science as not relating to them, with a belief that “Aboriginal people are not good at maths and science and all that” (Ball, 2015, p.14). It has also left a gap in Australian’s knowledge of it’s First People.

Digital story telling (DST) can be used for intercultural understanding by comparing cultures and experiences (Malita & Martin, 2010, p.3061) The aim of this digital story is to help students (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) to become more aware of how Aboriginals peoples use/used science in their culture. This will bring more of an understanding of Aboriginal culture to all students and may increase Indigenous student’s self-confidence and sense of belonging.

It also aims to assist teachers in integrating Aboriginal culture into their lessons. In 2018, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) introduced 95 new elaborations for Aboriginal scientific practices into the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, n.d). Teachers are time poor and often do not have time to search for additional resources, so this digital project aims to provide resources for teachers.

Teachers often feel they have little knowledge about Aboriginal people (Harrison & Greenfield, 2011, p.65). When non-Indigenous people teach about Aboriginal knowledge it is usually as a unit on certain aspects of Aboriginal knowledge and may unintentionally be stereotyped about particular styles or locations of knowledge (Harrison & Greenfield, 2011, p.70), for example boomerangs and the Northern Territory .

As Aboriginal culture is not heterogeneous, the resources have been drawn from a variety of Country groups to show diversity of practices. Even though the learning is not presented by an Indigenous person in local context, it is hoped it will provide an insight into the use of scientific knowledge of Indigenous peoples. The best way for students to learn is from an indigenous community member or elder about local country (Harrison & Sellwood, 2016, p.208). Providing learning in this way makes it authentic and meaningful as it is produced locally and relates context to place (Harrison & Greenfield, 2011, p.74). Therefore, it is best if the suggested activities can be adapted to include local Indigenous knowledge.

References:

ACARA (n.d). Australian Curriculum: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.  https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/cross-curriculum-priorities/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-histories-and-cultures/

Ball, R. (2015). STEM the gap: Science belongs to us mob too. AQ: Australian Quarterly, 86(1), 13-36. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/stable/24363666

Harrison, N., & Greenfield, M. (2011). Relationship to place: positioning Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives in classroom pedagogies. Critical Studies in Education, 52(1), 65–76.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2011.536513

Harrison, N. & Sellwood, J. (2016). Learning and teaching in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Smartcopying. (n.d). Flexible dealing.https://smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/flexible-dealing

von Zinnenburg Carroll, Khadija. “What Would Indigenous Taxonomy Look Like? The Case of Blandowski’s Australia.” Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia (2014), no. 12. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. https://doi.org/10.5282/rcc/6292 .

Wu, J. & Xie, C. (2018). Using time pressure and note-taking to prevent digital distraction behavior and enhance online search performance: Perspectives from the load theory of attention and cognitive control. Computers in Human Behavior, 88, 244 – 254.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.07.008

Assessment 4, Part C – Critical Reflection

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

My understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments has developed immensely throughout this subject. As outlined in the blog post ‘Assessment 1 – Reflective Blog on digital literacy’ (Silver, 2020a) at the start of the subject I believed literacy in digital environments was primarily based on ebooks. I had little idea, other than that, what literacy in digital environments entailed. My knowledge of digital literacy types has grown to include games, hyperlinked texts (Walsh, 2013, p.182), Twitter stories (TEDSalon NY2013, 2013), and transmedia pieces (such as Inanimate Alice).

I have also gained awareness of the importance of reading as a social activity through social media. Whilst sites such as GoodReads and Inside a Dog are difficult to incorporate in primary school (as 13+ is the recommended age for social media sign up) these sites have many ideas and resources that could be incorporated into literacy activities. Using digital tools and publishing online can link curriculum work to interests and create authentic learning experiences via feedback from others (Price-Dennis, Holmes & Smith, 2015, p.201). Students could take advantage of the digital environment to make podcast or book trailers about what they have read and share these digitally with other students, classes in the school, or other schools nationally/globally. By working on their own digital pieces, students learn about purpose, structure, audience requirements, and imagery (Kearney, 2011, p.173). Already many students use digital technology for multimodal communication during their leisure time (Bjorgen, 2010, p.167). When students link their own lives and the use of digital tools, learning becomes meaningful (Peck & Cretelle, 2020, p.75). Students can achieve this by creating and publishing their own works and responding to others.

Prior to this course, I had not thought of multimedia stories giving people a ‘voice’ that can be heard by many (Matthews, 2014, p.28).  Students can use this to their advantage to express ideas and feelings that build empathy and understanding (Sukovic, 2014, p.226) for and about others. This is similar to the way transmedia pieces cause a reaction from the audience or convey a message (Malita & Martin, 2010, p.3061).

I have discovered working in digital environments can have opportunities and challenges for students. Integrating the curriculum through multimodal narratives increases student engagement (Hovious, Shinas & Harper, 2020, p.3). Digital features can also improve literacy practices. These features include highlighting text for consideration, virtually shelving books for later reading, bookmarking (Serafini & Youngs, p.402), notetaking, and searching text (Lamb, 2011, p.13).  Digital formats can also benefit students who struggle with literacy. For example, audiobooks provide an appealing avenue to access written material for students with reading difficulties (Grover & Hannegan, 2012, p.10). They also model fluency, pronunciation, expression, and comprehension (Hett, 2012, p.6) which increases students reading and literacy levels.

Through assessment two (Silver, 2020b), I became aware that not all digital applications are suitable for students’ educational purposes. As discussed in the blog post Experiencing Digital Literature Assessment 2, Part A – Digital Literature Reviews features need to be assessed for suitability for literacy use.

Digital literacy has moved away from the traditional scanned print books to involved digital pieces such as vlogs which include video plus snippets of social media sites (such as The Autobiography of Jane). These new formats involve new literacy skills beyond traditional literacy skills students must learn. These skills include; searching around the page, comprehending information from a variety of sources (images, music, language used), and using links (icons, sounds, etc) to navigate (Walsh, 2010, p.214). If students do not possess these skills, they may become disorientated or fail to identify fake websites (Lamb, 2011, p.17). Online digital literacy skills are still a problem amongst students as outlined in the blog post ‘Students and digital literacy – are they really literate?’ (Silver, 2020c).

An important part of working in digital environments is copyright. Students need to be aware of legal and ethical obligations of, as Ohler (2013, p.246) terms it UOPS – using other people’s stuff. This can be quite challenging. Knowing how to correctly source, use, and attribute information is increasingly important as the world becomes more digitally participative. Although I had some knowledge of copyright, by creating my own digital storytelling project I have had to hone my skills in finding images that can be used legally. Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Unsplash, and Pixabay have been useful. I have come to appreciate the complexity of copyright around images, learning myself how to attribute images. It was easier to photograph and record my own images, this has also added a sense of ownership to the project.

Overall, throughout the subject, I have increased my understanding of literature in digital environments enormously. I now have a greater knowledge of the types of digital literacy platforms, social aspects of literacy activities and how to assess materials for suitability, and skills students require when dealing with literacy in digital environments.

References

Aref, N. & Hall, A. (2013). The Autobiography of Jayne Eyre. https://theautobiographyofja.wixsite.com/jane-eyre#!transmedia/c218y

Bjørgen, A. M. (2010). Boundary crossing and learning identities – digital storytelling in primary schools. Seminar.NetMedia, Technology & Life-Long Learning, 6(2), 161–178.

Grover,S. & Hannegan, L. (2012). Listening to learn: Audiobooks supporting literacy. American Library Association.

Hallam, G., Thomas, A., & Beach, B. (2018). Creating a connected future through information and digital literacy: Strategic directions at the University of Queensland library. Journal of the Australian Library & Information Association, 67(1), 42–54. https://doi-org./10.1080/24750158.2018.1426365

Hett, K. (2012). Technology-supported literacy in the classroom: Using audiobooks and digital storytelling to enhance literacy instruction. Illinois Reading Council Journal, 40(3), 3–13.

Hovious, A., Shinas. V. & Harper, I. (2020). The compelling nature of transmedia storytelling: Empowering twenty first‑century readers and writers through multimodality. Technology, Knowledge and Learning. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-020-09437-7

Kearney, M. (2011). A learning design for student-generated digital storytelling. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(2), 169-188.

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.

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.

Matthews, J.,R.G.N.B.Sc P.G.Dip. (2014). Voices from the heart: The use of digital storytelling in education: The journal of the health visitors’ association. Community Practitioner, 87(1), 28-30.

Ohler, J. (2016). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning and creativity. (2nd ed.).  Corwin.

Peck, S., & Cretelle, T. A. (2020). Place-Based Learning and Participatory Literacies: Building Multimodal Narratives for Change. In Mitchell, J. S., & Vaughn, E. N. (Ed.), Participatory literacy practices for P-12 classrooms in the digital age (pp. 74-94). IGI Global. http://doi-org/.10.4018/978-1-7998-0000-2.ch005

Price-Dennis, D., Holmes, K. A., & Smith, E. (2015). Exploring digital literacy practices in an inclusive classroom. Reading Teacher, 69(2), 195–205. https://doi.org./10.1002/trtr.1398

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

Silver, T. (2020a, July 27). Assessment 1 – Reflective Blog on digital literacy [blog post]. https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/learningawaits/2020/07/27/assessment-1-reflective-blog-on-digital-literacy/

Silver, T. (2020b, August 24). Experiencing Digital Literature Assessment 2, Part A – Digital Literature Reviews [blog post]. https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/learningawaits/category/inf533-digital-literacy/

Silver, T. (2020c, September 13). Students and digital literacy – are they really literate? [blog post]. https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/learningawaits/category/inf533-digital-literacy/

Sukovic, S. (2014).  iTell: Transliteracy and Digital Storytelling. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 45(3), 205-229. https://doi-org./10.1080/00048623.2014.951114

TEDSalon NY2013. (2013). Andrew Fitzgerald – Adventures in Twitter fiction. https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_fitzgerald_adventures_in_twitter_fiction

Walsh, M. (2010). Multimodal literacy: what does it mean for classroom practice? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 33(3), 211–239.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

 

Students and digital literacy – are they really literate?

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Digital literacy can incorporate many aspects. In this blog post it refers to having an understanding of critically evaluating information. There has been immense growth in internet usage, however, it is more difficult to make meaning from digital information (Combes, 2016).

However,  despite using the internet frequently adolescents  do not possess high skill levels in reading online, in particular locating and critically evaluating information (Leu, McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo, Kennedy, Forzani, 2011, p.8). This is a worrying trend when most young people trust media from friends, social sites or online which may not be correct, taken out of context or digitally manipulated (Combes, 2016).

The latest report by the Stanford History Education Group (2019, p.3) highlights some worrying results.  Just over half of the students believed  a bad quality video represented political fraud which was untrue. Only 0.1 % of students sought facts to check the videos credibility. 66% could not distinguish between political adverts and news stories and 96% did not question the credibility of a website based on the author’s bias.

Given the ever-evolving capabilities of technology to develop and distribute fake news, these results are indeed troublesome. Digital literacy is something that the teacher librarian and classroom teachers can work together on to improve results in the future.

References:

Breakstone, J., Smith, M., Wineburg, S., Rapaport, A., Carle, J., Garland, M., & Saavedra, A. (2019). Students’ civic online reasoning: A national portrait. Stanford History Education Group & Gibson Consulting. https://purl.stanford.edu/gf151tb4868

Combes, B.  (2016). Digital Literacy : A new flavour of literacy or something different?  Synergy, 14 (1).

Leu, D., McVerry, J.,  O’Byrne, W., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C., Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5-14. www.doi.org:10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Experiencing Digital Literature Assessment 2, Part B – Critical Reflection of digital literature experiences

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

Digital texts have progressed from books on CD Rom in the 1980s (Bartram, 2014, paragraph 5) to ebooks, interactive books and transmedia platforms (Lamb, 2011, p.17). Good digital texts have the ability to link digital features with literacy (Walsh, 2013, p.186).  However, many do not take full advantage of digital features for education purposes (McGeehan, Chambers & Nowakowski, 2018, p.62) such as changing font size, highlighting and annotating. The use of narration and games help to scaffold learning, as do web links and dictionary meanings (Cavanaugh, 2014, p.8). Ebooks may lack numerous features due to the inconsistencies in formatting requirements and file size with suppliers (Kudler, 2020).

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from Kindle in Motion is an exemplary enhanced ebook, offering animated illustrations, dictionary, annotation and translations. The reading experience is further extended by an active link to Pottermore – the digital world of Harry Potter. An excellent example of a transmedia text is Inanimate Alice which traces the story through multiple digital platforms and formats.

My own reading experiences are different between print and digital texts. When I have to read in-depth, such as university readings, I prefer print as it is easier to comprehend the information read. This is not unusual, a study by Mangen, Walgerno, & Bronnick (2013, p.67) revealed when reading text of more than a page in length participants comprehended more reading from paper than on a screen. Although, this appears to be linked to text type, such as expository texts rather than narratives and the amount of reading time available (Halamish & Elbaz,2020). Like many others (Jabr, 2013) I like to physically highlight and notate on the page. I am also able to see an overview of the text and find it easier to orientate myself or remember the location where something is written. It is easier to locate where specific text is on a physical page, plus print books offer the ability to easily flip back to locations to recheck information (Mangen, Olivier, & Velay, 2019, p.8).

When reading for leisure I also enjoy reading a print book. I like the aesthetics of holding the book and turning the pages. I also find it less fatiguing on my eyes, which research reveals may result from the rolling of the computer screen (Combes, 2016), screen illumination, character size or spacing between lines (Lee, Ko, Shen & Chao, 2011, p.6) .

When I read digital texts I read differently, expecting a more instant result. I tend to skim and scan the text more, looking for key words to find the information quickly. This is typical of most people reading online (Cull, 2011, p.7). This may be due to the fact that when reading online most people are looking to answer a question (Leu, Forzani, Timbrell & Maykell, 2015, p.40).

However, digital texts are instantly available worldwide to anybody with an internet connection and device. This makes them available to different ages and interest groups. They also offer the convenience of carrying books easily and without the weight.

Digital texts also may have benefits over print in the classroom. E-books provide a motivation for students to read for pleasure (Cavanaugh, 2014, p.5, Lamb, 2011, p.17). They can be used to provide differentiation for student learning (Lamb, 2011, p.16) and students may feel more comfortable using ebooks due to privacy of reading content, level and progression rate (Knapp, 2019, p.56). The technology used can assist struggling readers, utlilising text to speech, definitions and translations (Knapp, 2019, p.58). In one study reading remediation students who incorporating ebooks exited the program two months earlier than their peers (Guernsey, 2011,p.32). Digital texts can also be used to improve students comprehension, critical thinking and discussion skills increased via digital literature circles (District Administration, 2017).

Outside the classroom digital texts may connect readers through social media, where students can post and read book reviews (Knapp, 2019, p.59). Social media can also be used to connect readers and access authors, from Twitter to websites such as Pottermore (Valenza & Stephens, 2012, p.77) which have games, fan stories etc.

Of the ebooks reviewed, I most enjoyed Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas. After viewing and discussing the book it could be incorporated into a stage 3 program as a prompt for Science, Art or English.

For Science students investigate the different states of water, outcome ACSSU077 (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d.a) by linking to images in the book. Brainstorm, research and add other situations where water is shown in the three states.

For the literacy strand in English – Creating texts, outcomes ACELY1704 and ACELY1707 (ACARA, n.d.b), students follow the books format to create their own digital book on what a subject can be…… For example ‘a stick could be…..’ .

For Art students explore ideas and practices (outcome ACAVAM114) and communicate meaning (outcome ACAVAR117) (ACARA, n.d.c)  by creating their own artworks about water, drawing on other cultures, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks on water.

 

References:

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.a). The Australian Curriculum: Science. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/science  

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.b). The Australian Curriculum: English. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.c). The Australian Curriculum: The Arts – Visual Art. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/the-arts/visual-arts/

Bartram, M. (2014). The History of eBooks from 1930’s “Readies” to Today’s GPO eBook Services. Government Book Talk. https://govbooktalk.gpo.gov/2014/03/10/the-history-of-ebooks-from-1930s-readies-to-todays-gpo-ebook-services/#:~:text=Starting%20back%20in%201971%2C%20Michael,first%20eBook%20in%20the%20world.&text=2007%20changed%20the%20world%20of,of%20the%20iPhone%20by%20Apple.

Cavanaugh, T. (2014). Ebooks for elementary schoolhttps://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZCaMBQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=value+of+ebooks+in+elementary+school&ots=Tz-thkQdlB&sig=-i7619tI7YqREptjE55OsB1_yLo&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=value%20of%20ebooks%20in%20elementary%20school&f=false

Combes, B. (2016). Digital literacy: A new flavour of literacy or something different? Synergy, 14(1).

Cull, B. (2011). Reading revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in academe. First Monday, 16(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i6.3340

District Administration. (2017). Digital literature circles. TechXcellence.

Guernsey, L. (2011). Are Ebooks Any Good? School Library Journal, 57(6), 28–32.

Halamish, V. & Elbaz, E. (2020). Children’s reading comprehension and metacomprehension on screen versus on paper. Computers & Education, (145). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103737

Jabr, F. (2013, April 11). The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

Knapp, N. (2019). Using Technology to Foster “Real Reading” in the School Library and Beyond. Knowledge Quest, 48(1), 54–60.

Kudler, D. (May 18, 2020). The problem with enhanced ebooks. The Book Designer. https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/05/the-problem-with-enhanced-ebooks/

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17.

Lee, D.S., Ko, Y.H., Shen, I.H., & Chao, C.Y. (2011). Effect of light source, ambient illumination, character size and interline spacing on visual performance and visual fatigue with electronic paper displays. Displays, 32(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.displa.2010.09.001

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.

Mangen, A., Walgermo, R. & Brønnicka, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002

Mangen, A., Olivier, G., & Velay, J. L. (2019). Comparing Comprehension of a Long Text Read in Print Book and on Kindle: Where in the Text and When in the Story? Frontiers in psychology10(38). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00038

McGeehan, C., Chambers, S., & Nowakowski, J. (2018). Just Because It’s Digital, Doesn’t Mean It’s Good: Evaluating Digital Picture Books. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 34(2), 58–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2017.1399488

Overdrive (n.d). Discover Sora – The student reading app. https://company.overdrive.com/k-12-schools/discover-sora/

Purdie Salas, L. (2014). Water Can Be. Millbrook Press TM.

Valenza, J. K., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership69(6), 75-78.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture Books and the Digital World. Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577–585. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1262

 

Experiencing Digital Literature Assessment 2, Part A – Digital Literature Reviews

 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Changes in technology are changing the way literature is accessed, understood and created. Increasing internet connectivity and usage of personal devices is increasing access and use of digital literature (Picton, 2014, p.4). Ebooks are one form of digital literature used.

Two of the ebooks reviewed are picture books, therefore a rubric by McGeehan, Chambers & Nowakowski (2018, Appendix A) for assessing elements of digital picture books has been used. These are considered under the heading ‘affordances of digital features’ in the reviews and include:

  • Appropriate presentation of the text for digital format
  • Use of features to move text past print
  • Alignment of supplementary features with the text
  • Features support concepts of print (text moves left to right, top to bottom etc)
  • Features support readers comprehension and new vocabulary

The ebooks will also be assessed on availability, classification of ebook, appearance, functionality, and if applicable literacy features.

 

E-book  – Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas.

Availability

I accessed this ebook using my local library membership via the Libby app for Apple and Android devices and Overdrive on computers. Overdrive is available to schools via the student app Sora (Overdrive, n.d) for schools that hold a subscription to Overdrive.

Classification of ebook

Despite this book being published in 2014, according to Yokota & Teale’s (2014, p.576) categories of digital picture books it would fall into one of the earliest types of ebook categories. It is a scanned version of the print book and contains the same cover, endpapers, font etc as the print version. This has been categorised as an ebook as it is available in digital form.

Appearance

The illustrations are appealing, support the text meaning and lose no quality in being converted to digital format. The images are able to be made larger by zooming out on the screen. The digital features do not detract from the book as the page enlarges and the digital features disappear from the screen when the book is being read.

Functionality

The ebook does contain basic features found in ebooks such as the ability to change the brightness of the screen from bright to sepia or dark (black background screen). This is beneficial to readers who may experience difficulties with light sensitivity. By clicking on ‘recent places’ in the menu, the reader (or teacher) can see the current location in the text, number of  times the narration was paused, which page the reader came from and the number of minutes until the end of the book. It also shows the total time spent reading and percentage of the book read. This provides useful data on the reading experience which may indicate the difficulty of text for the reader and their level of engagement.

Other features including search, highlighting and bookmarking appear in a ribbon at the top of the screen. The search function works well, even though the pages on screen present as a digital copy of the physical book. Pages can be bookmarked, allowing for easy access to important pages. Unlike other ebooks, the text is unable to be highlighted which can hamper teachers or students drawing attention to certain sections.

Navigation is assisted by the portrayal of a slider bar, showing how far through the text the narration is. There is the ability to pause or scroll to a page number. It also shows how many pages there are before and after the current page. This is important as it allows the reader to orient themselves as they would in a printed book and not get lost in the digital text, such as flipping pages backwards (Lamb, 2011, p.14). Students must have some knowledge of digital literacy with regards to the features of functions on the screen (Kucirkova, Littleton & Cremin, 2017, p.73).  In this case, readers need to know how to swipe the screen to access the next page and how to use two fingers to enlarge the screen and zoom in on the illustrations.

Affordances of digital features

  • Appropriate presentation of the text for digital format – digital features are easily found, however, they are not accessible once the book is being ‘read’ until the top corner of the screen is tapped. This may be confusing for some readers.
  • Use of features to move text past print – it has no extra features, it is the same as reading print on a page.
  • Alignment of supplementary features with the text –no supplementary features available.
  • Features support concepts of print – text appearance is of a reasonable size and easily read.
  • Features support readers comprehension and new vocabulary – there are no digital features that support readers. Although there are no definition hotspots in the book, the glossary at the back of the book supports the reader.

 

Literacy features

This is a non-fiction book presented in a poetic form. Although the text is limited (only two words per page on most pages) the illustrations support the text well to help the reader add meaning. The contents at the back of the book also supports the reader with a glossary, information and facts (such as 2/3 of the Earth’s surface is water) about the function of water depicted on each page in the story. There is also a suggested reading list of books for further investigations about water. The literacy features of the book make it an acceptable digital book, despite lacking many digital features.

Overall, this is a basic form of ebook. Greater use of digital features such as narration and hotspots could improve the reading experience. By digitising the print book the publishers have made it more  widely accessible (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.578). The benefits of providing this book as an ebook also allows a whole class to access the book at the same time and work at their own pace in reading the book, which they could not do with one print book.

 

Enhanced E-bookI don’t want curly hair! by Laura Ellen Anderson

Availability

The ebook is available via the Libby or Sora app.

Classification of ebook

This book is a hybrid of an ebook which is a scan of the print book and an ebook that transforms the book with features unique to the digital world (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.576).  It contains the same cover, endpapers, font etc as the print version whilst containing features of the digital world such as narration and text highlighting.

Functionality

As it is on the same platform as the ebook reviewed above it contains the same access and navigation features, however, frustratingly, not all appear to be operable with this book. Whilst there was a search function it did not work. A search for ‘hair’ produced no matches, despite it appearing many times in the story. The features are also limited in that they can’t be accessed once the narration has commenced.

There were some difficulties loading two of the audio pages. The pages wouldn’t load the audio and the reader needed to swipe to the next page where the audio began again. Frequently a page would freeze at the beginning and the reader needed to go back a page and manually swipe to the new page again. Some letters were missing from the text on the page that the audio would not load, this made it difficult for the reader to decode the text. In other parts of the book the formatting of the text makes reading difficult as the text overlays itself. These difficulties were frustrating and interrupted the reading process.

Affordances of digital features

  • Appropriate presentation of the text for digital format – sound effects and music are related to the text. There is enhancement through the accompaniment of musical instruments and sounds (such as laughing), which add to the atmosphere of the story. Although the noises are presented alongside the narration, they are not overly loud and do not detract from the storyline.
  • Use of features to move text past print – there is a use of narration which helps to convey the books humour to students. The use of narration also highlights the rhythm and rhyme of the story. The speed of the narrative is good – not too quick, expressive but only available in an English accent. It is beneficial to multilingual learning if the language could be changed (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.584). The narrator is a famous children’s television presenter and comedian – Justin Fletcher. Whilst the narration is expressive and by a well-known personality, it doesn’t seem to suit the story. The narrator’s voice is important to the story’s characters (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.580). The story is about a girl and a female sounding narration would have suited the character better and made the character more believable. It would also be beneficial if the text size could be changed. Changing to a larger font size has proven beneficial to struggling readers (Picton, 2014, p.13).
  • Alignment of supplementary features with the text –no supplementary features available.
  • Features support concepts of print – individual text is highlighted as it is read aloud and is in a different colour (blue), highlights from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Features support readers comprehension and new vocabulary – there are no digital features that support readers. The use of hotspots can enhance the reading event by giving definitions of more complex words (McGeehan, Chambers & Nowakowski, 2018, p.63). The use of a dictionary would assist students in making meaning, for example the word ‘frazzled’ is used in the narrative and there is a picture of a girl looking angrily in a mirror. An explanation hotspot would have further clarified the meaning taking a digital affordance of what a print book couldn’t do.

There are several features to consider when choosing a narrated e-book (Bates, Klein, Schubert, McGee, Anderson, Dorn, McClure & Huber Ross, 2016, p.405). This book has several of the features including ability to read by self and ‘turn’ pages, narration, ability to replay narration and autoplay for narration and page turning.

This is an entertaining book for students with its use of rhyme and whimsical pictures. The functions of narration and text highlighting assist the reading process. The functionality issues effected the enjoyment and flow of the story.  If these issues were fixed this book could be an ideal book for modelling rhyme and fluency to students.

 

Interactive book Clio’s cosmic quest by Wonderscope

Availability

Available as a free app for iphone and ipad in the Apple apps store. Clio’s cosmic quest is a free book in the Wonderscope app. Other interactive stories are offered in the app for 7.99 AUD each.

Classification of ebook

This would fit into the category of the latest development of ebooks – transforming picture books to include digitally unique features (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.579) including animation, sound and augmented reality.

Appearance

Upon beginning the story the user chooses a physical space for the story to take place. An augmented reality mystical galaxy then opens and the user is introduced to the main character ‘Clio’. Clio and the other characters are presented in three-dimensional forms who speak to the reader. Using augmented reality helps to engage the reader by the character entering the reader’s space and speaking with them. The space zooms in and out as the characters (and reader) travel through the galaxy. This movement enhances the reader’s experience within the story (Lamb, 2011, p.17).

Functionality

The app is easy to use, starting with a character greeting the user and instructing them on how to set up their camera and microphone in order to participate in the story. The story also takes advantage of haptics to include the user in the story, such as tapping on the gas particles in the story and the phone vibrating at times when the character moves. However, whilst this is entertaining and relates to the story it can distract from the storyline. These kind of features do not support the reader’s comprehension process (McGeehan, Chambers & Nowakowski, 2018, p.59) or offer support to a user with reading difficulties (Lamb, 2011, p.17).

However, the user is unable to control the flow of the narrative with no option to repeat a section. Also, if the reader is unsure of the words in their script, there is no option to hear words pronounced. There is an option to touch an arrow to move onto the next part of the story but then the flow of the story is interrupted as the reader’s part disappears. The lack of these features may impede a student’s understanding and comprehension.

By being interactive with the character Clio, students are able to gain empathy for her situation of being bullied by another star and support her by helping Clio in her quest. There is the possibility of readers losing the main characters in the galaxy created, however, the narration and reader text continues so the story still flows.

Affordances of digital features

  • Appropriate presentation of the text for digital format – text follows basic reading concepts being placed at the bottom of the images, the text size fit well within the phone’s screen, digital features are found easily.
  • Use of features to move text past print – there is use of narration, however, it does not read a text. The animations used support the text meaning (Bates, Klein, Schubert, McGee, Anderson, Dorn, McClure & Huber Ross, 2016, p.404) by showing elements of space that may be difficult for students to otherwise understand.
  • Alignment of supplementary features with the text – at the end of the story Clio and the other particles are turned into the Sun. A map of the solar system is then presented where students can tap on the planets to discover more information about them.
  • Features support concepts of print – individual text is highlighted word by word in blue for the user to read. It highlights from left to right, top to bottom before disappearing like cosmic dust. Highlighting of text in ‘read aloud’ mode is an important element for literacy development of young children (Yokota & Teale, 2014, p.583).
  • Features support readers comprehension and new vocabulary – there are no digital features that support readers such as tapping on objects (for example the super nova) to get written labels of the objects or provide links to them.

Clio’s cosmic quest is a fun and engaging interactive narrative with the themes of inclusion and cooperation. It also contains informative elements about the solar system and how a star is formed. The interactive book takes advantage of digital features such as augmented reality, voice and haptics. Further use of digital features such as vocabulary hotspots and ability to rewind would improve the reading experience. Whilst some of the interactive features can be distracting, overall the digital features add to elevate the reading experience. They involve the reader and when the reader is engaged, they comprehend more (Frye, 2013). As a result of the animations and digital features this book could be useful for engaging reluctant or struggling readers.

References:

Anderson, L. (2017). I don’t want curly hair! Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Bates, C. C., Klein, A., Schubert, B., McGee, L., Anderson, N., Dorn, L., McClure, E., & Ross, R. H. (2017). E-Books and E-Book Apps: Considerations for Beginning Readers. Reading Teacher, 70(4), 401–411.

Frye, S. (2013, July 19). Interactive eBooks and Reading Comprehension – I’ll Meet You There (a guest post by Sheila Frye). Nosy Crow. https://nosycrow.com/blog/interactive-ebooks-and-reading-comprehension-i-ll-meet-you-there-a-guest-post-by-sheila-frye/

Kucirkova, N., Littleton, K. & Cremin, T. (2017). Young children’s reading for pleasure with digital books: six key facets of engagement. Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(1), 67-84. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2015.1118441

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17.

McGeehan, C., Chambers, S., & Nowakowski, J. (2018). Just Because It’s Digital, Doesn’t Mean It’s Good: Evaluating Digital Picture Books. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 34(2), 58–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2017.1399488

Picton, I. (2014). The impact of ebooks on the reading motivation and reading skills of children and young people. National Literacy Trust. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED560635

Purdie Salas, L. (2014). Water Can Be. Millbrook Press TM.

Wonderscope (n.d). Clio’s cosmic quest (Version 278) [mobile app]. Apple app store.

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture Books and the Digital World. Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577–585. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1262

 

Assessment 1 – Reflective Blog on digital literacy

Image by Felix Lichtenfeld from Pixabay

My experiences so far of digital literacy are limited (or perhaps I know more than I do and don’t realise it) and somewhat confused.  What exactly is digital literacy? Is web 2.0 technology such as blogs, YouTube and social media etc considered digital literacy?

Based on my experiences so far I believed digital literacy to be:

 

  • Reading traditional text that has been digitised (e-books)
  • Listening to audio books
  • Accessing pdf or html documents from databases for readings
  • Apps or programs to help students ‘read’ and understand a book via animations, voice overs and music.

However, further reading has drawn to my attention that digital literature is much more than that. Even being able to use the internet effectively is considered digital literature. Digital literature has additional skills to traditional literature. These include finding and evaluating information on line, combining information from different sources and communicating information. (Leu, McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo, Kennedy and Forzani, 2011, p.7). These are valuable skills for all, particularly students to possess. Many student’s online literacy skills are poor despite the student’s opposing beliefs. One area in which students are weak is in analysing search results, particularly clicking on the first search result (Leu, Forzani, Timbrell & Maykel, 2015). I have seen this myself. When questioning year six students about search engine results many responded they choose the first result. On further questioning the majority did not know that many top results are sponsored ads. They certainly did not check for reliability and validity of websites, with many readily agreeing that they did not check the author or credentials of the website.

Walsh (2013, p.181) introduces the idea of digital texts being multi modal, incorporating images, music, and speech to support communication. Whilst I had seen digital stories on websites such as Story Time Online with the stories being read aloud along with some animation, I have not seen other digital narrative features Walsh outlines (p.187). These include:

  • non-linear progression of the story,
  • split screens, ‘mouse over’ effects,
  • interactive games, and
  • ‘mash up’ features.

She encourages educators to evaluate if or how these features accentuate the story and allow students to engage more with the story (2013, p.185). Students also need to be aware of fact and fiction within these features, such as websites with information that appears real but is not, it is part of the story (Lamb, 2011, p.17).

Then there are considerations of reader navigation on the page, some people have difficulty navigating interactive texts (Lamb, 2011, p. 15) or indeed traditional texts in digital format (Jabr, 2013). Whilst I prefer a traditional view of text on a page for ease of navigation, will it be the same for the younger generation? And what about those students with text learning difficulties, do digital literacy features make it easier for them to comprehend ideas better than straight text does?

From the readings thus far in the subject I can see that digital literacy involves more than I believed of reading on a screen. It includes being able to use the internet successfully as well as choosing effective digital narratives. There is a lot for me to learn about the world of digital literacy.

 

References:

Jabr, F. (2013) The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American, April 11. Retrieved from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17.

Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N. et al (2015) Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in the primary-grade and upper elementrary-grade classroomReading Teacher, 69(2) 139-145

Leu, D.J., McVerry, J.G., O’Byrne, W.I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C. and Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculumJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).  https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/863c5c8d-9f3f-439f-a7e3-2c2c67ddbfa8/1/ALiteratureCompanionforTeachers.pdf