September 20

Digital Storytelling – My perspective, including social media and learning connections

This is a direct cross-post of my answer to the Module 4.1 Discussion Forum stimulus:

What questions/answers have formed in your mind in relation to digital storytelling?

For me what has really stood out is the importance of storytelling in education. The New South Wales (NSW) Quality Teaching Framework includes narrative as a component of the element of significance, recognising that narratives engage learners in content in a significant and meaningful way that motivates and consolidates learning (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2008). As Alexander (2011, p.5) and Malita and Martin (2010, p. 3061) indicate, storytelling has been part of the human toolbox for constructing meaning and communicating throughout history and has adapted to evolving communication technologies.

In terms of using digital storytelling in a classroom context, though, I keep coming back to the question one of my course-mates keeps asking – why digital? What added benefit or different dimension is served by choosing digital technology as the medium for this storytelling occasion? Without a satisfactory answer to that question, I am not convinced that it is worth the potential extra hassle that I have often found it to be in the primary government school classrooms where I have worked. This may be as simple a reason as having the opportunity to integrate technology (as required by the General Capability requirements in the curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016)) and be at the Substitution level of the SAMR framework (Puentadura, 2011). Ideally, though, there would be some integral element of the experience that required a digital interface, according to some of the leading definitions of digital literature (Ciccoricco, 2012, p. 471) and there would be at least Augmentation if not one of the transformational levels of the SAMR framework in play (Puentadura, 2011).

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September 5

Exploring innovative digital literature and using socially networked reading sites in classroom settings

This is a direct crosspost from the INF533 discussion forum.
Innovative Digital Literature
          As I have mentioned before (Simon, 2018), I really enjoyed Device 6 (Simogo AB, 2014). It is one of the few (perhaps the only) longer form pieces of digital literature that I have found over the past 6 weeks that I have actually completed. I think one reason for that is the whole immersion vs engagement argument (Skaines, 2010). While I do appreciate immersion and have been known to get thoroughly “lost in a book”, I am also a fan of puzzles and interactive engagement in narrative games (though I do have an irritatingly low frustration threshold).  The blending of puzzle interaction and narrative using iPad affordances, such as gyroscopic sensors to navigate through the text, was the perfect combination for me.
          I am still exploring the hypertext puzzle narrative event Planetarium. Unlike transmedia narratives like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which once they have been released as an event are not able to be experienced in the same gradual release, serial, episodic format again, Planetarium has been around for over twenty years and is still released to each new reader in the same gradual format – with access to a new episode on a weekly basis over twelve weeks. I am enjoying it and am intrigued by it, but I am finding it easy to forget about it and lose track of releases. Time will tell whether it holds my attention until the finish.
           I have had more difficulty in identifying digital literature sites that are innovative, appropriate for use in a primary classroom, and affordable for me to access and use as a casual teacher. I have viewed the first two episodes of Inanimate Alice (The Bradfield Company Ltd., 2005-2018) and briefly glanced at the webcomic that bridges the time between those episodes. While I do believe that Inanimate Alice continues to innovate, the older episodes are more appropriately classified as “innovative for their time”. Being dependent on Flash, they face the possibility of becoming obsolete if not updated. I have not yet paid the price to investigate the more recent offerings, but can see that lack of access to earlier episodes might well have negative consequences for later episodes in the series.

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September 2

INF533 Assessment 3: Digital Storytelling Proposal

Proposal topic

The digital storytelling project will tell stories from the Quarantine Station at North Head in Sydney, NSW. It will combine historical materials and short pieces of historical fiction in a multi-modal work based on the article Inside the Quarantine Station (Simon, 2017) and related research.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used

I am still deciding on the best base platform to use, but am leaning towards Google’s Tour Creator or Thinglink. I would be using mostly Adobe tools, such as Photoshop Creative Cloud for image manipulation and Spark for video creation (if applicable), to create my multi-media/multi-modal content.

Rationale for topic focus for the digital storytelling project

In my current role as a casual teacher and in my hoped-for future role as a Teacher Librarian in NSW primary schools I need to be prepared to teach students across various disciplines at levels from Kindergarten through Year Six (K-6). The topic of this project has the flexibility and curricular relevance to be used across various curriculum areas from K-6 in my local area schools.

The Quarantine Station site is an important historical landmark local to the majority of schools at which I teach or am likely to accept future employment. Further, it is a site that has had historical and geographical relevance on personal, local, regional, national and international/global scales. The planned digital storytelling artefact would incorporate both fact and historical fiction; images, audio, and text; and primary and secondary source material.

In addition to having relevance to History and Geography Knowledge Area content across the K-6 spectrum, it particularly targets Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Inquiry and Skills outcomes from the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), n.d.) relating to:

    • data collection through observation and sources (primary and secondary) provided or located (ACHASSI001, ACHASSI018, ACHASSI034, ACHASSI053, ACHASSI074, ACHASSI095, ACHASSI123)
    • exploring points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion (ACHASSI005, ACHASSI022, ACHASSI038, ACHASSI056, ACHASSI077, ACHASSI099, ACHASSI127)

The artefact would be used both to engage students in learning information and to provide a model for their own creation of digital narratives. This would fulfil outcomes from both HASS Inquiry and Skills (ACHASSI010, ACHASSI027, ACHASSI043, ACHASSI061, ACHASSI082, ACHASSI105, ACHASSI133) and English (ACELY1654, ACELY1664, ACELY1674, ACELY1685, ACELY1697, ACELY1707, ACELY1717) Learning Areas (ACARA, n.d.).

 

References

Adobe. (2018a). Adobe Spark. Retrieved from https://spark.adobe.com/home/

Adobe. (2018b). Reimagine reality. Retrieved from https://www.adobe.com/au/products/photoshop.html?sdid=TY6XL4MR&mv=search&s_kwcid=AL!3085!3!155856311942!b!!g!!photoshop%20creative%20cloud&ef_id=WrIQXQAAA0AvufWy:20180901234920:s

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). F-10 Curriculum. Retrieved Spetember 2, 2018 from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/

Google. (n.d.). Tour Creator. Retrieved from https://vr.google.com/tourcreator/

Simon, M. (2017). Inside the Quarantine Station. HistoriCool, 29, 20-24.

Thinglink. (n.d.). Ignite student creativity. Retrieved from https://www.thinglink.com/edu

July 29

Definitions, developments, new directions and issues in digital literature

Definitions

Digital literature spans such a wide variety of formats that it is hard to define. Even looking at what is heralded as excellence in digital literature does not always help. For example, look at two Australian awards given within nine months of each other. The Woolahra Digital Literary Awards 2018 required that submissions have been initially published online on an editorially curated site or in electronic format (Woolahra Municipal Council, n.d.). The QUT Digital Literature Award, however, requires that the work “relies on the unique capabilities of digital media” (Queensland Literary Awards, n.d., Section 4, para. 6). This difference led to works as different as Diary of a Post-Teenage Girl with Eloise Grills, a hand-drawn comic with the only digital affordance being the ability to select a particular frame to view and zoom in on it, and Nine Billion Branches, a user-navigated digital landscape where poetry is revealed by different cursor controls implemented across a variety of on-screen artworks, receiving accolades that sound identical. With such a broad-spectrum definition of what digital literature is currently, it is difficult to consider what serves as a development or what might be a new direction in which it is headed, but I will try. Continue reading

July 13

My (limited) experience with digital narratives and synergy

This was crossposted (without embedded video or hyperlinks within text) to the Discussion Forum for INF533 in Session 201860: thread available here.
It was in response to the following prompt:

(C)onsider Walsh’s chapter, and share your knowledge, understanding and experiences with digital narratives in the discussion forum. What are the key points of synergy that you have encountered? What are the differences?

My main area of experience with digital literature is the category of traditional literature presented in digital form, Unsworth’s electronically augmented or re-contextualised literary texts (Walsh, 2013; Unsworth (2006) in Walsh, 2013, p. 181), either as scanned copies of picture books used in classroom settings or ebooks I have personally read on a nook, iPad or iPhone. To be quite honest, I have even rarely used enhancements and features of the plain digitised eBooks, other than those that are automatic, like page re-orientation or low-light-level background and text and lighting adjustments performed in iBooks. I am intrigued by the possibilities discussed in the various readings, from the hypertext narratives that seem to have been the stirrings for the concept and terminology of electronic literature (Rettburg, 2012; Lamb, 2011) to works such as Inanimate Alice and Chopsticks: A Novel that are beginning to redefine the idea of ‘literature’ or ‘text’ with their multimedia affordances (Walsh, 2013; James & DeKock, 2015). My only exposure to these types of works has been through the readings of the module, and while I enjoyed playing around with them a bit (and also dipping into The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (Pemberley Digital, 2012-2014) through Tehani’s announcement) I have not really experienced them enough to analyse the synergy between literary quality and digital features that Walsh (2013) describes.

Short clip of animated series played via the now defunct website www.charlieandlola.com (Alexander Entertainment,2015).

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