For the final project for my subject on Literature In Digital Environments, we need to create a digital storytelling project that is applicable for use in our professional context. Our proposed project is meant to have collaborative input from colleagues and classmates. To that end, I would love feedback regarding the feasibility, appropriateness and interest factor of some of my project ideas.
My context in brief (or as brief as possible for me):
Currently working as a casual only when Uni is not in session
I have a school I do most of my work at – I’ll call it “XPS” – but I have not done much this year because of Uni and they are currently having a major shuffle in the exec as the Principal and a DP moved on in the past 6 months, so the entire Exec Admin level is shaken up.
I will be exploring the possible creation of NESA-Accredited PD courses with a colleague who has attended their training session – in the English KLA, likely centering around English Textual Concepts.
“Quarantine Station Stories” – Looking at stories from the Quarantine Station in Manly – basing on a piece I wrote for Historicool magazine with several pieces of short historical fiction based on actual stories related to quarantine at the station. – Look at creating interactivity, perhaps content creation facility… connection to source documents.
Links to curriculum – geography – places, spaces, features that suit the site for quarantine, different uses over time; History – local history (reasonably local (45 min drive) to most places I teach); English – authority (primary sources, secondary sources), genre – historical fiction
Context – could be used at multiple schools, could be used in PD context
Drawbacks – technical skill, might need to coordinate/get permissions from State Library NSW or Q Station for materials
Last night I attended my first online meeting for EER500: Introduction to Educational Research. Instead of module content, the instructor, Dr James Deehan, has set up a weekly reading list schedule accompanied by weekly online meetings. While I do miss the guidance and summarising of key ideas found in a module, I loved the online meeting. Full disclosure: I did not pay complete attention throughout the meeting as some of it was a review of the reading material that I felt fairly confident about. However, it gave me a chance to ask questions or make comments and receive real-time interaction with the instructor. That has happened in my other subjects – but only a handful of times throughout the session.
What excites me about this subject is knowing that he plans to do this on a regular basis – weekly, in fact! Having a predictable, regular and frequent time and space for this type of interaction is something that I profoundly missed in my subjects last session (and suspect that I will continue to miss in the majority of the ones to come). I’d better enjoy it while it lasts!
The introduction module to the subject opened with a tidbit of information about digital literature. We were given the beginnings of a definition – noting that concepts key to the notion of literature in digital environments are different degrees of connectivity, interactivity and modes of access. I look forward to exploring the definition of digital literature as we get further into the meat of the subject.
A bone to pick – Why include Why Cite..?
I was satisfied with most of the content of the introduction module and have already posted a reflection on the video interview that presented the views of various emerging UK authors on digital literature. I question the inclusion of one of the materials, though. The following video by UTSA Libraries (2010), entitled Why Cite.. was included in a grey assignment box at the conclusion of Topic 2: Referencing resources.
This is the first subject that I am doing in this course that has a textbook prescribed. It looks as though that textbook will be thoroughly used, too; the schedule lists every chapter (as far as I could tell) in the weekly readings columns.
There were four reasonable options open to me regarding textbook access:
1. Do my readings by accessing the digital version of the text available through the CSU library.
2. Borrow a hard copy version of the text from the CSU library.
3. Purchase a second-hand copy of either the most recent or previous version of the text.
4. Purchase a new copy of one of the acceptable editions of the text.
I did my readings for the first two subjects in this course almost entirely in digital format. In light of some of the research that indicates that we process and regulate study behaviours around on-screen reading differently to on-paper reading (Ackerman & Goldsmith, 2011), and especially findings that suggest that comprehension can suffer with on-screen reading (Mangan as reported in Grothaus, 2017), I was keen to have such a crucial element of this subject as a hard copy print text. I may keep the digital version as a backup functionality and download select pdfs of passages that I think I am likely to want to refer to in assignments and store them somewhere with the capacity for in-document searching. Continue reading
I have finished my first session of study at Charles Sturt University (CSU). I still find some aspects of an online delivery mode frustrating – especially the lack of significant, official, real-time interpersonal discussion and lack of consistent, predictable contact with instructors. Despite the challenges, I managed to finish my two subjects with good results.
I really hope that the quality of the course materials improves in the remaining subjects in my course. I was quite appalled by the poor writing, editing and referencing in the modules for the two subjects, ETL401 and ETL503, that I took. I feel that course materials should model at least the top level of work that you are expecting from students, if not a superior quality. I found that I often needed to correct reference entries when using readings from the modules in my own work. I do not think that “do as the referencing style guide says, and not as I do” is good enough for instructors or course materials at any level, not least at postgraduate level.
Choosing my elective subject for next term is consuming my thoughts in this interim session. I was leaning towards taking INF533, Literature in Digital Environments, because I would like to take a subject with a focus on literature but feel that the technological aspects of my resume and work experience are what need the most bolstering for job applications. Most of my classmate network, however, is taking ETL402, Literature Across the Curriculum. Continue reading
I have recently finished my final assessment tasks for both ETL401 and ETL503, my first two subjects in the MEdTL course. Both subjects mentioned the need to maintain a reflective journal throughout the subject on our blogs. However, very little guidance was given on how to go about doing so. Having completed the reflection tasks in each final assessment, I wish that I had done more. I can see how more frequent, small reflections on readings and on each topic would have given me more to comment on in the reflection. If in the final subject we need to reflect on our growth throughout the journey, I see a gap in my record of experiences for this first session.
I will set a goal for next term to not only respond to module-based prompts in my blog (and separate them rather than aggregating them in collections as I did sometimes in this session) but also create weekly reflections and overall module-end reflections. Hopefully that will set me up with more to glean from for my end-of-session reflective tasks.
Finally, in week 9 of 14 of my first session of my Master’s degree in teacher librarianship, I have had a taste of the possibilities for discussion and discourse in the online subject discussion forums. In an earlier blog post, I lamented the difficulties of online learning – especially how much I missed the back and forth of in-class discussion in a face-to-face class delivery format. This week I have had a little nibble of that experience on the Module 5.1 forum discussions in ETL401.
I think that the definition of the task helped:
Write a 300 word commentary on what you have learnt so far and post on Forum 5:1. Read at least 2 other posts and provide feedback to your peers.
I believe that setting a word count helped to discipline our responses. This helped tp encourage posts that were meaty enough to give the reader something to respond to but targetted enough in their scope that other students didn’t get overwhelmed with the task. Setting an expectation of reading and responding to at least two posts aided in getting the conversational ball rolling.
I was pleased to engage with someone regarding my own commentary, and also was able to use some of the thoughts that I had prepared for another activity to engage with other students on the topic of multi-modality and ended up getting a reference to an interesting article on transliteracy.
In general, I still find it difficult to engage effectively on the forums, especially in classes with 100 – 150 + students enrolled. This positive experience, however, has given me hope and encouraged me to take the initiative to harness the possibilities fro rich interaction that the forums have the potential to offer.
I got my first degrees in the United States more than twenty years ago, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Japanese Studies from Wellesley College in 1993 and a Masters of Education in Elementary Education from Boston University in 1996. Some skills are transferable to my current studies but there are vast differences that will take getting used to.
Academic reading, research and writing skills are coming back to me, with a bit of help brushing up from the ALLaN team and other resources. The biggest changes to cope with are the differences borne of the online mode of study. In my former courses, I was a 100% faithful lecture, seminar and section attendee. I may not always have done all of the readings, but boy! did I participate in discussions and listen avidly and attentively to what my professors shared. That face-to-face interaction with course material was my primary learning environment. I am currently struggling with the digital replacements for that atmosphere and interaction.
I am lucky to have gathered together with a small band of classmates to form a study and support group via Facebook and Facebook Messenger. That has been a critical help when starting to nut out the requirements of assessment tasks or navigate the technicalities of blog setup and forum access. With a bit of luck and a small investment of time and transportation money, I should be able to meet one of the gang in Sydney later this week, score! While it does not quite replicate the camaraderie of late night dorm-room chats or trading war stories about ongoing teaching practica while trying to finish off readings before the professor entered the classroom – it is more than satisfactory and I feel real connections forming.
The area that I feel suffers the most by removal to the virtual plane is the classroom discussion. I appreciate the care that has gone into the crafting of the Discussion Forum platform, but I feel it is likely to stall discussion more than encourage it. In the classroom, when speaking, you can refer to readings without having to reference them. This lets you engage with the ideas in a more spontaneous and organic fashion. The synergy of bouncing ideas back and forth between discussants and seeing the idea develop and change before your eyes (or ears) falls flat when you need to pore over your APA Style Guide every time you want to incorporate something you have read. It turns a two minute response into a ten minute or more drafting exercise. Great practice for assessment writing, but rather antithetical to spontaneous exchange of thoughts. But here I am belly-aching as I survey the lay of the land from the vast experiential pinnacle of my second official day of classes. Perhaps the time spent drafting and crafting thoughts will refine them and hone my arguments in a way that ad-libbing off-the-cuff in class could not accomplish. Perhaps the practice of drafting discussion responses and blog posts with resource references will transform me into an APA 6th edition referencing wizard – whipping out accurately referenced sources faster than Homer Simpson can polish off a dozen of Springfield’s finest donuts. Only time will tell.