Digital Literatures – Assessment 4

Part A: Context for Digital Story Telling Project

I am the Teacher Librarian at a high school who also teaches English and Literacy across all stages. For the past three years I have focused heavily on Stage 4 English, having had a number of Year 7 classes per year. This subject and grade is especially dear to me as I feel this age is most willing to engage in the creative and extracurricular pursuits that allows me to meld the subject’s literacy focus with the goals and objectives found with my library practice.

In 2020, our English faculty designed and implemented a new unit for Year 7 English. Entitled ‘Narrative Through the Ages’, it explores the concept of storytelling across many modes. From myths and fables, to visual texts, through to the future of storytelling in the guise of multimodal, immersive digital literature. The unit culminated in a task in which students had to produce a ‘digital storybook’ that told a fable of their own creation. It was, in truth, very similar to our own task, though on a smaller scale.

The teaching of this new unit fell, unfortunately, immediately within our distance learning period – resulting in staff not fully realising the potential (and problem areas) of the new unit, and students not benefiting from the same degree of direct instruction and modelling. As such, many students did not reach the creative heights they are capable of. What’s more, students who have diverse learning needs struggled to employ their usual enthusiasm and tenacity without that hands-on approach from the classroom teacher. Most students submitted fairly simplistic texts comprised of a sentence or two on a slide with an accompanying image. No regard was given for the ‘multimodal’ components of the task barring a very small smattering of students across all eight classes.

The example of digital literature I have chosen is a semi-modern retelling of the Greek myth, ‘Theseus and the Minotaur’. I chose to recreate this myth because it is the first text our Year 7 students study in this unit and it allowed me to mirror their own task in such a way as to give them a working example of how various tools, resources, and styles could be combined in new ways. It was important to me that I utilised tools and materials that were free, sharable under Creative Commons, and wherever possible, use resources students were already familiar with. As such, my digital text is based on Google Slides (2020) – completely sharable within our school IT infrastructure and can be happily distributed via Google Classroom – and I have used Canva (2020) and Pixabay (2020) to produce almost all image content. These three core resources are ones I already utilise heavily with my students, and they have the added bonus of leading neatly into discussions of plagiarism and copyright.

This retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur was designed to be delivered in a variety of modes as it will be shared across at least four different members of staff all of whom have different teaching styles and have students of diverse needs. For our accelerated Year 7 class, I envision this being delivered as part of a flipped learning sequence in the lead up to the time working on the assessment in class or in the form of readily available extension material for students to work on at their own pace. For the mixed ability classes or classes with students on plans requiring more explicit instruction, this lesson has been designed to sit neatly into our 100 minute lessons, allowing students to work individually or as a class. The text is interspersed with short comprehension questions and writing prompts – not to tax the student’s reading experience but to add more interactivity as well as provide a marker of accountability for the students.

Initially I had grand plans for what I wanted this text to be. I was very excited by the assignment and envisioned short films of costumed characters from Greek myth directly addressing the student and drag and drop, escape room style prompts – but my excitement vastly outstripped my technological capabilities. Ultimately, I elected to adopt the lens of the mobile phone, inspired by Alan Bigelow’s text ‘How to Rob a Bank’ (2011), which I explored in the second assessment task. I did so partly because while I had enjoyed this text, it had some elements that I was not entirely happy with and wanted to try my own hand at, but also because it allowed me to incorporate a fun transmedia anachronism into the myth by drawing on social media and digital formats our students use on a daily basis, an element deemed essential by Lamb (2011) in new forms of YA storytelling. It paved the way to present Theseus as a loveable dope – brave and likeable if self-centred and arrogant. In the end, I am happy with what I produced, despite it being a little too image heavy to be completely practical on our school’s wifi. I have plans to adjust and recreate in the future but have retained the excitement that this unit and assessment has instilled me. I have great hopes for the future of digital literature and am beyond eager to share this emerging artform with my students.




Part B: Digital Story Telling Project

Please note: I believe I have made the story a little too long and/or image heavy. As such, when in ‘present’ mode, please wait for the progress bar at the bottom (next to ‘Exit’ on the toolbar) to fully load and disappear otherwise the hyperlinks won’t work. Apologies!




Part C: Critical Reflection

At the commencement of this unit, I do not believe I would have felt well versed in the concept of ‘digital literature’. If pressed I would have discussed digital formats of texts such as eBooks and eAudiobooks, happily delving into a discussion of the unique challenges of copyright, access, and licensing that surrounds them. I would also have touched on the topic of augmented reality story telling through the lens of virtual reality google schemes such as Google Story. I would have said that I was interested in the concept but unfamiliar.

Studying this course has opened my eyes not only to the future potential of digital literature, but also to the degree in which I am already keenly immersed in digital literature in my teaching practice. I routinely utilise platforms such as Instagram to tell stories to my student on behalf of the library – having Instagram ‘takeovers’ hosted by fictional characters to promote events and resources, a series of videos in which I was bitten by a zombie in the library and slowly turning over the course of a week for Halloween, the advertising and recommending of fan based and produced appropriations and reimagining of texts (YouTube channels, select Tumblr accounts, and so forth). What I have learned is that ‘digital literature’ is a broad term and, while it is still an emergent artform, it has certainly started to grow roots.

As educators and purveyors of literature, it is critical that we keep abreast of current trends. This is not a new practice for teacher librarians but it no longer just the texts themselves that we must be familiar with, but the manner in which they are accessed and consumed. Bowler (2012) supports this notion when he states that “reading is no longer an exclusively book-bound experience [but one that] traverses multiple platforms: books, games, computers, and increasingly, handheld mobile devices” (p. 32). It is with this idea at the forefront that we can embrace not only the ideas of what digital literature CAN be, but what it already is. Something that is new, excited, and worthy of study – but also fraught with challenges. It is our duty to overcome challenges such as student access and equity, copyright compliant creation, storage, and communication of texts, recognition of value, and the depths of disparity in students digital familiarities and capabilities. Bowler highlights that the next era of reading for children will be a completely new (hypertexted and networked) experience of reading (p. 35) and as such it is up to us as Teacher Librarians and life-long learners to be at the forefront of this wave.

Far from being seen as a daunting task, this is one that should (and I believe will!) be embraced with hearty enthusiasm. We are at the forefront of change, yes, but we are also living in an age of duel technology wonder and ubiquity. Leu (2011) points out that the internet is the best tool ever created to deliver and build skills of literacy and communication – and every one of our students holds its entirety in their pockets every day. Now more than ever is the time to embrace digital literature in our classrooms and our libraries in order to build a stronger, more capable, empathetic, and literate generation.





BenSound. (2020). BenSound. Retrieved from

Bigelow, A. (2016). How to Rob a Bank. Retrieved from

Bowler, L., Morris, R., Cheng, I-L., Al-Issa, R., Romine, B., & Leiberling, L. (2012). Multimodal stories: LIS students explore reading, literacy, and library service through the lens of “The 39 Clues”Journal of Education for Library and Information Science53(1), 32-48

Canva. (2020). Canva. Retrieved from

Google. (2020). Google Slides. Retrieved from

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

Pexels. (2020). Pexels. Retrieved from

Pixabay. (2020). Pixabay. Retrieved from

Zapsplat. (2020). Zapsplat. Retrieved from

Digital Literature Reviews – How to Rob a Bank

Alan Bigelow’s award winning 2016 multimodal text How to Rob a Bank is an example of what Lamb (2011) defines as a ‘transmedia text’. Utilising multimedia imagery in the form of animated text conversations, game play, Google search and its autofill recommendations, maps, and more, this tech supports the Lamb’s supposition that “social technology has become a core element of transmedia storytelling for young adults” (p. 15). Recounting the experiences of a young Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple planning and robbing banks against a backdrop of romance, Bigelow’s text allows the reader to assume a first person perspective of the story, seeing the world through the lens of a smartphone screen.

How to Rob a Bank is an engaging text, not only by virtue of its plot but by the immersive experience generated through the hands-on experience, the sounds (diegetic and non-diegetic), and perhaps most of all, the frenetic changes between social technologies, jumping rapidly from Google to maps to gaming to texting. This mirroring of the constant and vigorous modern use of personal devices makes the story and format a uniquely relatable one which only serves to underscore the inclusive nature of the story.

Engagement aside, however, How to Rob a Bank remains a largely linear story. While the reader controls the speed of delivery and is able to move backwards as well as forwards, the story itself is predetermined and unchanging. Though multimodal in nature, this digital text does not employ varied hypertext (beyond a next or back) and does not allow the reader to explore or make changes to the evolution of the narrative. James & De Kock (2013) puts forth that “reading landscape” has changed so decisively to embrace the digital native who “absorbs information almost exclusively in a digital, hyperconnected space.” I would argue that digital literature like How to Rob a Bank recognises this evolution and attempts to utilise it but has yet to reach its full potential. A multimodal story with a higher degree of interactivity, one that allows for exploration outside of a strictly linear plot, is surely the intended goal of a text for our current digitally autonomous students.

Bowler (2012) argues that for our children “reading is no longer an exclusively book-bound experience[,that t]heir reading traverses multiple platforms: books, games, computers, and increasingly, handheld mobile devices” (p. 32). How to Rob a Bank acknowledges this digital traversing through its inclusion of a wide range of social technologies, but never crosses that line into allowing our students to hold the reigns and traverse these platforms themselves. In many ways, this text is, in fact, a step backwards from more traditional texts such as the Choose Your Own Adventure texts of the 80s and 90s. These reader determined stories are experiencing a resurgence with modern readers and I can only imagine that a convergence of multimedia digital literature and Choose Your Own Adventure is on the horizon for this current generation of primary and middle grade readers.

Pick-a-path story telling is a popular project within many English classrooms and I have run these units myself with my Stage 4 students. Their ability to utilise simple platforms like Google Slides and their collate resources from their own smart phones and devices has resulted in basic but thematically similar texts to How to Rob a Bank. Though they lack the sophistication of narrative and production, in some instances the level of interactivity and reader autonomy produced by my Year 8 students far outstrips that of How to Rob a Bank. This has left me excited to see what our most valued authors will be capable of when embracing these new formats.



Bowler, L., Morris, R., Cheng, I-L., Al-Issa, R., Romine, B., & Leiberling, L. (2012). Multimodal stories: LIS students explore reading, literacy, and library service through the lens of “The 39 Clues”Journal of Education for Library and Information Science53(1), 32-48

Bigelow, A. (2016). How to Rob a Bank. Retrieved from

James, R. & De Kock, L. (2013). The digital david and the gutenberg goliath: the rise of the ‘enhanced’e-book. English Academy Review, 30(1), pp. 107-123.

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

Digital Literature Reviews – Animalia

When Graeme Base’s richly illustrated picture book Animalia was published in 1986, it quickly became a staple in homes and libraries around the country. It’s latest incarnation as part of The Graeme Base Educational Suite, while seemingly popular in education circles, defies categorisation. Equal parts interactive storytelling, enhanced ebook, reference database, and literacy learning tool, this app tries to do it all – but does it succeed?

This example of digital literature embraces Bowler’s notion that “contemporary children’s books are different because of children’s experiences with hypertextual, networked digital texts” (p. 35). This interactive experience has been a growing norm in children’s digital literature as we move away from simple ebooks to more interactive experiences of texts. Animalia is not an ebook, but an entire multi-faceted app – heavily linked and interactive with a wide array of entertaining and educational activities and prompts.

Roskos (2012) states that “the virtual explosion in apps has transformed the traditional storybook of early childhood into a highly interactive, multi-media literacy experience” – of which Animalia is a key example. While this text has engaging and entertaining aspects – full colour, a range of voice actors embodying the animal ‘characters’, and a gamification of literacy, I am hesitant to declare this a text of pure enjoyment. While it appears to be designed primarily as a learning resource. Its approach to instruction is clearly well thought out with a range of activities catering for differentiated stages, I feel that the richness and beauty of the original text is severely lessened in this digital presentation – despite the accessibility provided by the audio components. What’s more, despite being a learning tool, I am hard pressed to see it being used within the classroom (understanding however that I am of a secondary background) and would only imagine the interactive activities being halved by use at home without a partner against which to play and learn. Roskos (2012) states that while these digital storytelling tools are becoming increasingly popular, “less is known … about how these new literacy tools “work” in different activity settings in preschools [compared] to stories and print.” It is this point of contention that I echo. Animalia is, undoubtably, a carefully designed and marketed app. But is it ultimately reaching its full potential as digital literature within a classroom setting?

I believe that Animalia and books/apps like it are the stepping stone to something greater. This example of digital literature is an early example of the fully realised hypertexted interactive learning resources of our future. Growing trends in digital resourcing indicate that classroom print texts and learning resources may soon be a thing of the past, with leading educational publishers exploring the hyper immersive digital textbooks replete with embedded resources, videos and all manner of interactivity. Animalia is a wonderful first step in the primary education sphere but that development of this trend is still ongoing.



AppBooks. (2011). Animalia for iPad (version 3.1) [mobile application software]. Retrieved from

Bowler, L., Morris, R., Cheng, I-L., Al-Issa, R., Romine, B., & Leiberling, L. (2012). Multimodal stories: LIS students explore reading, literacy, and library service through the lens of “The 39 Clues”Journal of Education for Library and Information Science53(1), 32-48

Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Shang, Y., & Gray, E. (2014). Young children’s engagement with e-books at school: does device matter? Sage Open, 4, pp. 1-9. DOI: 10.1177/2158244013517244. Retrieved from

Digital Literature Reviews – Anne with an E

Anne with an E (2014) is an example of what Unsworth defines as a “recontextualised literary text” (in Walsh, p. 182) in the form of a Youtube web-series that translates the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery into a modern digital retelling. Adopting the form of the ubiquitous teen girl vlog, Anne with an E capitalises on the dramatic focus on the thoughts and dreams of the individual so championed by the Youtuber monologue to fantastically showcase the original protagonists exuberant and loquacious personality. At a time when retellings of stories are commonplace, this grass roots appropriation has managed to alight upon the perfect convergence of text, creator, and medium to give a classic tale new life.

For many middle grade or YA readers, a classic read (albeit a largely accessibly one) like Montgomery’s Green Gables series is not often a popular choice – despite its recent resurgence with the 100 year anniversary of the text in 2008 and the 2017 Netflix adaptation, also titled Anne with an E. Though the series has been a long time favourite of my own, I have never managed to have it reached the heights of our ‘top borrowed’ list within our school library. I feel this to be a true shame as, however long since it has been published, it’s protagonist – with her eternal optimism and relatable foibles – has remained consistently relevant to readers on the cusp of independence. It is this timelessness of Anne Shirley, I believe, that makes Anne of Green Gables a remarkable option for digital reprisal. With this is mind, it is time to reconsider what it means to truly ‘read’ a text. If, as Lamb says, it is the “process of constructing meaning from symbols” then Anne with an E, with its layering of symbols (literary, digital, and social), is a prime candidate for this new trend in digital literacy.

In this web-series retelling, the creators, Alicia Whitson, Mandy Harmon, and Marie Trotter, embrace not only the digital medium of Youtube to share their creation, but call upon the wider internet to truly make this an immersive, transmedia experience. From the in character ‘About’ page which allows ‘Anne Shirley’ to state that she “started this vlog to record [her] first year living with [her] new foster family, the Cuthberts”, to the in comment inclusions of her twitter handle, everything about this account begs the reader to engage, to explore, and to find a joy in storytelling. The sheer level of detail in this endeavour, in the creator’s dedication to multiple accounts across multiple platforms (Youtube, Instagram, Twitter), in order to give their ‘Anne’ a community of characters to mention, link to, and interact with, sets up their protagonist not only as one who is appropriate to the format they have adopted, but makes her a contemporary to the very readers they are trying to share their story with. This elevates this adaptation of Anne of Green Gables from a mere retelling, to a true experience of digital literature.

This text has found an appreciative reader in me and I would not hesitate to recommend this to my students across Stages 4 and 5. It has found a happy home within my school library and with my students, as well as becoming an extension text embedded within my English teaching program about Digital Storytelling. Anne with an E is an admirable example of creatively, adaptability, and renewal which is worthy of enjoyment and study.



AnneWithAnE. (2014). Green Gables Fables [Video file]. Retrieved from

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

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).

Online Reflective Journal Blog Task

Emergent technologies and shifting trends in the world of literature have carved a new environment for Digital Literature. As a 21st Century educator – and consumer of texts in my own right – it is my duty and pleasure to ensure I familiarise myself with these new modes of storytelling in order to better support and engage my students.

My own personal experience with digital literature is an enthusiastic, if not an overly academic one. While my heart will likely always lie with the print medium, practicalities have engendered a spirit of exploration with my reading. As such I have explored a variety of ebook readers, platforms, and services. I am an avid audiobook listener, gratefully utilise the book services of a range of libraries, and have been exploring more commercial avenues for digital graphic novels and comics. I have also recently entered into the world of long-form gaming and have become enamoured with the immersive and interactive digital storytelling capabilities. The global connectedness of these digital storytelling practices and the ‘new literacies’ that are emerging around these technologies are astonishing and pave the way for untold mediums (Bacalja, 2020, p. 34).

Within a professional context, my experience of digital literatures has been largely one of advocation. Within my immediate school environment, we have access to quite a large digital collection of ebooks and audiobooks – and a notably small physical collection of fiction only. As such, within my role as Teacher Librarian, my championing, marketing, and advising of wide reading practices to foster literacy growth has had to adapt to a largely digital environment. This has been meet with some reluctance on the part of students and staff who are used to the immediacy of a book placed in hand, however it has allowed for a deeper engagement with the ‘new’ digital literacies through the simple use of access (Sadokierski, 2013).

When in the classroom, digital literature has played a growing role in my practice. From simple inclusions (allowing students to utilise ebooks and audiobooks for wide reading), to basic modelling (using digital literature as a sample text), to the more involved tasks of student creation. I have recently completed a unit of digital storytelling with my Year 7 classes where they look at ‘narratives through the ages’, from myth and fables through to modern digital stories and modes of storytelling. Students themselves retold a known fable through the form of a multimodal digital storybook. This future of storytelling or transmedia storytelling, involving “multimodal, multimedia story with non-linear participatory elements” (Lamb, 2011, p15) speaks to so many of the ICT ideals of the modern curriculum and is embracing of ongoing trends in modes of storytelling.

I believe myself to have a fairly decent working knowledge of literature in digital environments – and the curiosity to fill in the gaps. I am eager to learn more and experience a wider variety of texts that will further my knowledge as a reader and an educator.




Bacalja, A. (2020) Digital writing in the new literacies age: Insights from an online writing community. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 28(2), 33-43.

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

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

ETL504 Assessment 2 Part B

What is a leader?

Early in this subject I was intrigued by the concept of ‘Servant Leadership’, as it was not a term I had encountered before and it is the idea to which I come back to continually. The idea of leading to serve the best interests of others (Burkus, 2010; Kokemuller 2017) cuts to the very heart of leadership. Whether it be in the classroom, in the library, or in one’s personal life, leadership should be undertaken not for glory or adulation but to improve the circumstances of others. I feel that those who work with children are uniquely qualified to see the value in, and be called to, this style of leadership.

I have always considered myself a leader. Throughout my schooling and professional life I have always been the first to get involved and have usually found myself in leadership positions of some kind or another.

In undertaking this subject, however, I found myself encountering a new form of leadership. Failed leadership. Despite my best intentions, full immersion in the case studies and my study group (Group 7) did not occur. This was not the fault of the group. They pulled together fantastically, with the early Transactional Leadership style (‘let’s get this done’) making way smoothly to a Distributed Leadership with everyone falling neatly into their roles. My minimal participation was on me and this is something I have had to reflect on further.

It would be easy to say that I was busy (aren’t we all?) but I think there is value here, in this task of writing a reflective blog post, to reflect on the truth of the situation.

Case study 6 outlines a scenario that feels all too real for many of us who teach and though it is a feeling I am well acquainted with, this is the first time it has so impacted my life to the point that I have let responsibilities drop. In responding to this case study several students made reference to burn out and betraying one’s own expectations of self. Having studied this subject and considered deeply the ways in which TLs are called upon to be a leader for and among our students and peers, I think it is all too important to have a Plan B for when this ball is, invariably, dropped.

In planning forward, I would take measures to ward off a repeat of this semester. Improved time management and proper recognition that study, work, and family is a juggling act. I would strive towards the kind of leader I would want to be: one who wholeheartedly embraces collaboration to bring together the expertise and shared responsibility to improve a community (Johnstone, 2015). I would continue to call back on my preferred leadership style of Servant Leadership, but to also employ Transformational and Distributed Leadership styles as tools at hand as a combined approach to ‘motivate and inspire’ (Smith, Minor, & Brashen, 2018).

I think of what I would say to my students, call on my best practice, and I realise that I would say to them that this too is a learning experience. That not meeting your own expectations is not a failure, but an opportunity for growth. A leader takes obstacles and makes them challenges. Effective leadership means learning to work effectively through failures to make improvements.




Burkus, D. (2010). Servant leadership theory. In DB: David Burkus. Retrieved from


Johnston, M. (2015). Distributed leadership theory for investigating teacher librarian leadership. School Libraries Worldwide, 21(2), 39–57.


Kokemuller, N. (2017). Mintzberg’s five types of organizational structure. Hearst Newspapers: Small business. Retrieved from


Smith, G., Minor, M., & Brashen, H. (2018). Spiritual leadership: a guide to a leadership style that embraces multiple perspectives. Journal of Instructional Research, 7, 80–89. Retrieved from


Teacher Librarian as Leader (Pre-Unit Thoughts)

What do I think of the statement ‘Teacher Librarian as leader’?

I think it holds great potential for truth if somewhat tinged with hope or wishful thinking.

I have been a Teacher Librarian in a secondary school for five years. In that time I have truly loved the role, finding great joy and satisfaction, both professionally and personally, in carrying it out. I have found myself in positions of leadership, being able to utilise my knowledge and skill set to support, inform, and encourage my coworkers. I have mentored and fostered learning among my students through my own enthusiasm and example. In this, I find the role of TL to be one uniquely suited to fulfil the position of ‘leader’.

However, I think it critically important to also consider one’s context. Without the support and approval of school leadership, without the openness of collaboration between staff and KLAs, and with the growing trend of shrinking libraries and overburdening of roles, there are many hurdles to simply fulfilling your role, without the loftier goal of leadership.

I truly do believe that TLs are leaders. They hold the knowledge, intent, and passion to see others succeed that are key strengths for leadership. I am hoping that this subject renews my long held, if someone dusty, belief in the leadership potential of TLs in the wider school community.