Like all literature, digital literature is about story. When we read we connect to story, and then we want to share. We might also find the desire and the confidence to tell our own. As I reflected on INF533 I focused on reading and creating digital literature. I also considered five deeper concepts (see above image) which sum up my understanding of what digital literature can be, regardless of how we engage with it.
When we read digital literature we formulate new learnings (Weignel & Gardner, 2009). Throughout my lifetime print has been the primary reading media. Learning to ‘read’ incorporating image, music, sound, and in some cases interactivity, has forced me to evolve. In a worrying development, researchers now question the increasing time young people spend in front of screens, and the possible accumulating effects on their brain growth (Jabr, 2013). This is why I always highlight my concerns in my blog entries, instead of just passively accepting that digital literature should become the norm.
Sharing is an aspect of experiencing digital texts that I encourage. Although readers have always discussed what they read, Web 2.0 technology has allowed them to connect to communities in many new ways. Our ability to interact with authors has blurred the lines between reader and writer (Skains, 2010), benefiting both parties.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2013) is an example of a transmedia text (Francus, 2013), reflecting a growing development in digital literature . Transmedia texts enrich our reading because their creators build distinct and intertwined narratives across platforms. Where they intersect appears messy (Stackhouse, 2013), but it’s also highly rewarding and often inspiring. This genuine collaboration between creators, performers, and participants highlights the potential of high quality digital texts.
Children are more than just experiencing digital literature by reading it; they are creating it. Mastery of digital tools is a vital component of the Australian Curriculum, and schools are integrating this creative process into a range of different key learning areas.
Students learn many technical skills including mixing, editing, and designing. They also learn valuable social skills like collaborating and sharing. They learn to understand copyright, develop empathy, and engage with topics more deeply (Dockter, Haug & Lewis, 2010). Using narrative to achieve these outcomes makes sense because throughout human history, story has driven the development of society.
Creating a digital story is complex—teachers should try it themselves so they can offer authentic help. Not all students are proficient at writing, drawing, playing music, and being a movie editor, which is why a genuine digital story is best completed by a team collaborating, sharing the roles, the responsibility, and the success.
The way technology evolves will always be an issue. What’s possible today wasn’t even available two years ago, and who knows what options students will have in the near future? Apps can become defunct. Finding effective mechanisms for storing and sharing stories can be difficult. All students should have equitable access to technology that works as it is intended.
Digital literature can be embraced in myriad ways. As its popularity grows there will be more choices and more complex texts, so educators will need to be selective (Dobler, 2013) to ensure students engage with high quality literature. INF533 has taught me the range and value of digital texts, and encouraged me to analyse them while considering diverse learners and rapid changes in technology.
Dobler, E. (2013). Looking Beyond the Screen: Evaluating the Quality of Digital Books. Reading Today, 30(5), 20.
Dockter, J., Haug, D., & Lewis, C. (2010). Redefining Rigor: Critical Engagement, Digital Media, and the New English/Language Arts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(5), 418-420.
Francus, M. (2013). Pride and Prejudice Goes Interactive: ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’. Paper presented at the Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial, Schuster Hall. Retrieved from http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/celia_pride/conference/october11/5/.
Rivera, A. (2014) Transmedia is a word for old people. Retrieved from http://www.alisarivera.com/transmedia-is-a-word-for-old-people/.
Smartcopying. (2014). Creative Commons Information Pack. Retrieved from http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/creative-commons/creative-commons-information-pack/.
Skains, R. L. (2010). The Shifting Author—Reader Dynamic: Online Novel Communities as a Bridge from Print to Digital Literature. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 95-111.
Weigel, M., & Gardner, H. (2009). The Best of Both Literacies. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 38.