The advent of technology, and plethora of personal devices has revolutionised the reading paradigm to the point where, texts are no longer restricted to print, but are now available through multiple formats and platforms. Digital literature utilises a continuum of technology to convey meaning, and the level of computation varies from a scanned book, to the interactive hypertext narratives with multimodal features with a host of genres and hybrid genres such as e-stories, linear e-narratives, interactive stories, hypertext narratives and electronic games narratives. in the middle (Walsh, 2013; Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012).
The level of computation associated with the digital literature varies with the device and format. It can range from the most simple form of a scanned book on a website, to the interactive hypertext narratives with multimodal features in a mobile application (Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012). The middle of this digital literature continuum contains genres or hybrid genres such as e-stories, linear e-narratives, interactive stories, hypertext narratives and electronic games narratives (Walsh, 2013; Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012).
These new formats as Lamb (2011), and Sadokiesiski (2013) point out, require additional literacies to engage, process, evaluate and communicate.
This is because reading has evolved from text decoding, to constructing meaning from symbols (Lamb, 2011) .
ACARA’s (2018) response has been to define literacy as the ability to interact with, engage and communicate across modalities for personal, social, economic and recreational purposes.
This definition clearly indicates that teaching practice needs to include a variety of texts, in print, digital and hybrid formats (Leu, Forzani, Timbrell, & Maykel, 2015). But whilst there are strong arguments and mandates to include digital texts, there are are complications.
Many students struggle with digital text comprehension, as the simultaneous synthesising of visual, audio and text information causes information overload (Jeon, 2012; Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick., 2013). Students with poor fundamental literacy are at further disadvantage, as they are easily distracted away from the content by the multimodal elements, as well as being unable to locate information due poor visual ergonomics (Lamb, 2011; Leu, McVerry, OByrne, Kili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo,Kennedy, Forzani, 2011; Jeon, 2012; Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018; Mangen et al., 2013, p.66).
I have noticed that here is a strong disinclination for teachers to include the creation of hypertext narratives and games in their practice (Mantei, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018). This hesitancy could be attributed to the premise that it requires both the student and the teacher to be competent in the additional literacies (Leu et al., 2015). Whilst many students could be considered digital natives and may possess the necessary skill set to create such hypertext, many teachers would be considered digital immigrants and therefore lack the confidence to implement such technologies in their classroom. Unfortunately by excluding creation of digital texts, students are disadvantaged by the lack of potential extension and consolidation of learning.
Remember Bloom – By failing to include a creative element – students are being denied opportunities for higher order thinking.
In an effort to address some of these concerns, our library team has a balanced collection of print and digital literature, as well as have recently implemented an information literacy scope and sequence (Leu et al., 2015). Our students have access to a robust physical collection, e-books and audiobooks through a BorrowBox subscription, as well as online databases such as InfoBase, Gale, Britannica, EBSCO, Trove, and World Book.
Anecdotally from my position as a teacher librarian, I can see the students vastly prefer print for recreational reading, but have a strong preference for digital resources for informational purposes. I regularly see many teachers include digital texts into their teaching practice through reading and viewing of e-books, online databases and web based texts. Through our information literacy program, we are endeavouring to teach digital literacy skills, such as, how to locate, evaluate and synthesise information, as well as problem solving in both online and offline scenarios (Leu et al., 2015, p. 140).
Digital literature has transformed society, the definition of literacy and the landscape of pedagogical practice. Time will only tell if our scope and sequence improve digital literacies and competencies in both the faculty and the students… stay tuned for further updates.
Armstrong, P. (2020). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/. Image licenced under CC – BY – NC
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Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N., & Maykel., C. (2015) . Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in primary grade and upper elementarty grade classroom. Reading Teacher 69: (2), p.139-145. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1073399.
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Mantei, J., Kipscombe, K., & Kervin, L. (2018). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).
Rettberg, J.W. (2012). Electronic literature seen from a distance: the beginnings of a field. Retrieved from http://www.dichtung-digital.org/2012/41/walker-rettberg.htm
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