August 20

INF533 Assessment 2 Review 3: Dr Seuss Treasury – The Lorax

Oceanhouse Media is the official e-book app developer for the works of Dr Suess (Dredge, 2012). Among their many offerings is the Dr. Seuss Treasury – School (Oceanhouse Media, 2016a), containing fifty-five Dr. Seuss titles, including a version of The Lorax (Seuss, 1971). That particular title was investigated for this review, which will look at the digital features of this enhanced e-book (James & De Kock, 2013) and their efficacy in educational settings (Yokota & Telae, 2014).

The  app would fall under Maureen Walsh’s (2013) broad category of traditional literature re-presented in digital form, Unsworth’s (2006 as cited in Walsh, 2013, p. 182) electronically augmented literary texts, and Lamb’s (2011) interactive storybooks. This places it in what could be termed a “comfort zone” of digital literature – not particularly innovative, like transmedia or extended reality texts (Breeze, 2018), but situated in a safe, popular, and comparatively commercially competitive (Dredge, 2012) niche.

Dr. Seuss is a well-known author of children’s literature whose books meet the threshold of demonstrating quality literary elements (Walsh, 2013; Yokota & Teale, 2014). One key area to evaluate in the digital versions are what Walsh (2013) describes as the “synergy” between the literary elements and the digital features. Research findings suggest that while multimedia features can have a positive effect on story comprehension and expressive vocabulary development, interactivity, broadly speaking, does not (Takacs, Swart, & Bus, 2015). However, specific types of interactivity, when congruent with the storyline and aligned with effective reading pedagogy, can increase story comprehension and engagement (Kao, Tsai, Liu, & Yang, 2016). Continue reading

August 14

INF533 Assessment Task 2 Review 2: Wuwu & Co.

Wuwu & Co. (Step In Books, 2014-2018) tells the story of five creatures who come to seek help from the resident of a little red house in the woods during “the coldest winter in two thousand years” (p. 1). The story is told through a combination of written text and interactive scenarios that make use of a variety of the technological capabilities of iOS devices, as will be explored later in this review.

Though the information page on the app carries the Apple age rating of 4+, on the catalogue description page the developers have added “Made for Ages 6-8” (Step In Books, n.d.). The level and type of interactivity required in the app, the interest level of the material and the complexity of the language support the older age range indicated. The English language text difficulty is calculated in the range appropriate to Years 2 and 3 by the Free Lexile Analyser (MetaMetrics, Inc., 2018; Biblionasium, 2018). It is available from the Australian iOS App Store for AU$9.99.

Step In Books (2016) via YouTube

Wuwu & Co. is a digital narrative (Walsh, 2013) created specifically for the iOS platform and cannot be effectively experienced without the use of an appropriate device. It blurs the boundaries somewhat when viewed through the lens of Annette Lamb’s (2011) five reading environments. While it can be classified as an interactive storybook app, it has qualities of non-linearity congruent with the hypertext or interactive fiction category that she describes. One of the notable elements of interactivity is the device-based virtual reality (VR) segments. VR is one of the modes of extended reality (XR) that some see as the currently expanding frontier of digital literature (Breeze, 2018).
Continue reading

August 8

INF533 Assessment Task 2 Review 1: My Place

My Place (Wheatley & Rawlins, 1987) is an enduring work of Australian historical fiction. The book relates the personal stories of children living in one local area in Sydney for every decade from 1788 through 1988. Each child relates a short account of their family and community, giving insights into the historical period and the development of the geographical area as well as showing evidence of their connection to country. Character ages range between seven and twelve, which makes the text relatable to primary school students. The first-person narratives have the cadence of recounts told by children where details such as a new colour for the house, an older brother bringing home a girlfriend and also heading to war are related with similar weight given to them using somewhat naive, straightforward language. Historical developments presented from the perspective of the children are enhanced by Donna Rawlins’ warm illustrations created with materials common to most contemporary primary school classrooms. This is a quality piece of literature that can be used across the curriculum in a variety of key learning areas including English, History, and Geography (McMeekin, 2010; Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) & Education Services Australia (ESA), n.d.).

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) produced a television series based on the book (Chapman Pictures Pty Ltd & Matchbox Pictures, 2009-2011). Episodes have been added that widen the timeline to include “before time” and continue through to 2008 (ACTF & ESA, n.d.). The twenty to twenty-five minute episodes also present more detail than the brief illustrated recounts in the book. The high production values, historical detail, and quality cast of this production make it an excellent resource for extending engagement with this story. Full episodes are available on kanopy and sometimes on ABC iView, but selected clips are always available on the My Place for teachers website.

Australian Children’s Television Foundation (2011) via YouTube Continue reading

April 5

Review of Pymble Ladies College’s LibGuide

I was hoping to find an example of an Australian primary school library on LibGuides. Most of the libraries I found were private secondary schools, I suppose because most (if not all) NSW government primary schools use the Oliver System which gives similar functionality through the school portal.

I found Pymble Ladies College at The site has a lot of interesting features. There are many suggestion lists, relating to genres, authors and specific titles. There are feeds that show what others are reading. I was pleased to see links from the home page to other libraries, such as NLA, SLNSW and various public libraries in the local area. There are also subject and other specialty pages. I investigated the Year 6 set of pages as I was particularly interested in how this was being used at the primary level.

The home page for the Year 6 classes could have been utilised more effectively as it was completely blank. It merely provided access to the various Year 6 class tabs and the static sidebar options of “Quick Links” to the library catalogue, database and eBook catalogues and “About the Library” with basic contact and opening hours information. Two separate teachers had linked to a Year 6 Book recommendation pamphlet which I believe would have made a good home page display.

The various class tabs reflected a range of curation ideas. At least one teacher had nothing on the class page. Several had book recommendations with cover displays, reviews and links to the catalogue. Several teachers also had class-created content, such as review quotes, library search tips or class survey results linked to their class page.

I can see from my limited exploration of the main library site and more detailed exploration of the Year 6 sub-pages that LibGuides has a lot of potential as a curation site. It provides a way to share crowd-sourced and interest-based recommendation information and patron-created content as well as providing direct links to the library catalogue for accessibility – all key factors for a 21st century information management platform.

As a selection aid resource for external TLs there are limitations as some features require password access.