What makes a good digital text
Despite Goodreads’ narrow interpretation of a book as being something with an ISBN number, “the book as a physical object with paper pages is now only one version of what a book might be” (Hancox, 2013, para. 7). As many have discussed before, a digital text can take many formats and permutations (James & de Kock, 2013; Parker, 2013; Sadokierski, 2013b; Walsh, 2013).
Various criteria exist as to what constitutes a good digital text. Its ability to engage, enhance, experience, elucidate, explain and entertain (James & de Kock, 2013; Miller, 2011); the use of multiple media and a single unified story without redundancy between media (Phillips, 2012; Walker et al., 2010); a linear yet enhanced reading experience, engaging multiple literacy and learning styles with intelligent, flexible and intuitive design with longevity (Parrott, 2011). To this can be added the potential to cater for different ability and facility with language and technology and preferred multi-sensory behaviour while bridging participatory skills and social needs with academic skills (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Roskos, Burstein, Shang, & Gray, 2014; Walker et al., 2010). Finally a good text, digital or otherwise will immerse and absorb the reader while allowing them to interact with the world and others, or an alternate reality, vicariously and integrate new knowledge and understanding into their existing schema or worldview (Fuhler, 2010; Ryan & Ryan, n.d.).
Compare experience digital versus print
In any comparison of the print / digital experience it should be emphasized that neither has moral nor educational superiority, but rather fulfil different functions and meet different literary, literacy and learning needs.
The most obvious difference is the format, though the non-linear nature of digital media is often commented on with its potential to disrupt the reading process and the need to have a strategy to stay on track and the necessity of learning and incorporating new conventions and practices in experiencing digital literature (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Chuk, Hoetzlein, Kim, & Panko, 2012; Francus, 2013; James & de Kock, 2013; Roskos et al., 2014; Skains, 2010). Digital features can create an enticement to buy, assist with the appreciation of literature, facilitate interpretation and understanding or motivate adjunct composition (Unsworth, 2006).
Experimentation with digital literature will, after a while, create a sense of discomfort in a self-aware educator as it becomes obvious that “their” pedagogical functions of elucidation and enhancing understanding of literature are usurped by the medium which can offer these benefits in a manner that fits with a learners’ preferred learning style and mode at a personalized pace. However, one’s role as a curator, guide and co-collaborator in all literary and literacy aspects of learning is enhanced (Lamb, 2011; Leu et al., 2011; Mills & Levido, 2011). Finally, the teacher can use the digital affordances to enhance student’s 21st century literacy skills as they come to grips with understanding the codes and conventions, functions and aspects of all semiotic systems (Anstey & Bull, 2012; Bowler, Morris, Cheng, Al-Issa, & Leiberling, 2012; Malita & Martin, 2010; Walker et al., 2010).
Incorporation of a text into a learning program
One of the digital texts I most enjoyed was ‘First World War: the story of a global conflict‘ (Panetta, 2014a).
The scope of this interactive documentary is such that it could be used in a variety of classroom settings, however the one I would choose would be the unit on “Memoir writing” in the Grade 7 English Unit where students are encouraged to explore a variety of compelling narratives and to create their own story (UWCSEA-East Campus, 2013). The students are from many different countries and cultures, including around one third from India, and the documentary, in particular the “Empire” chapter could form the basis for curating works of literature, poetry, music and art created in times of conflict and war. Students could bring examples of narratives and art forms from their own cultures that either relates to World War 1 or other conflicts to supplement material introduced by the teacher such as examples from the “The Disasters of War, 1800-2014,” show (Rubin, 2014). This would align with the concept of the teacher being a facilitator and curator who shares and highlights aspects of the curriculum in a multi-modal and social context allowing students to extrapolate to their own learning and literacy (Fuhler, 2010; Mitra, 2013; Serafini & Youngs, 2013) and ties in with the concepts of design thinking in education where “The focus is on processes – producing, assessing, developing, creating, revisiting, revising. Learning content becomes secondary to developing the how-to skills for how to be a learner in the 21st century” (Gerstein, 2014).
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2012). Using multimodal factual texts during the inquiry process. PETAA, 184, 1–12. Retrieved from http://chpsliteracy.wikispaces.com/file/view/PETAA+Paper+No.184.pdf
Bowler, L., Morris, R., Cheng, I.-L., Al-Issa, R., & 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 Science, 53(1), 32–48.
Chuk, E., Hoetzlein, R., Kim, D., & Panko, J. (2012). Creating socially networked knowledge through interdisciplinary collaboration. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(1-2), 93–108. doi:10.1177/1474022211426906
Francus, M. (2013, October 22). Pride and Prejudice Goes Interactive: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Video presented at the Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial, Paper 5. Retrieved from http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/celia_pride/conference/october11/5
Fuhler, C. J. (2010). Using primary-source documents and digital storytelling as a catalyst for writing historical fiction in the fourth grade. In B. Moss & D. Lapp (Eds.), Teaching new literacies in grades 4-6: Resources for 21st-century classrooms (pp. 136–150). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Gerstein, J. (2014, August 27). The Educator as a Design Thinker [Web log post]. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-educator-as-a-design-thinker/
Hancox, D. (2013, December 13). When books go digital: The Kills and the future of the novel. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://theconversation.com/when-books-go-digital-the-kills-and-the-future-of-the-novel-20098
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), 107–123. doi:10.1080/10131752.2013.783394
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12–17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Leu, D. J., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., … Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5–14. doi:10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1
Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3060–3064. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.465
Miller, L. (2011, June 15). “The Waste Land”: T.S. Eliot takes the app store [Review]. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://www.salon.com/2011/06/15/the_waste_land/
Mills, K. A., & Levido, A. (2011). iPed: pedagogy for digital text production. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 80–91. doi:10.1598/RT.65.1.11
Mitra, S. (2013, February). Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud [Talk Video]. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud
Panetta, F. (2014). A global guide to the First World War [Interactive documentary]. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/jul/23/a-global-guide-to-the-first-world-war-interactive-documentary
Parker, J. (2013, December 18). When stories are more than paper: Transmedia trends in Young Adult Literature. Presentation presented at the YALSA 2012 YA Literature Symposium, St. Louis, MO. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/l0j03_mb1dma/when-stories-are-more-than-paper-transmedia-trends-in-young-adult- literature/
Parrott, K. (2011, July 18). 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Apps and Ebooks [Web log post]. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2011/07/5-questions-to-ask-when-evaluating-apps-and-ebooks/
Phillips, A. (2012). A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling: how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Shang, Y., & Gray, E. (2014). Young Children’s Engagement With E-Books at School: Does Device Matter? SAGE Open, 4(1). doi:10.1177/2158244013517244
Rubin, A. (2014, August 28). Horror Is a Constant, as Artists Depict War [Review]. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/arts/design/horror-is-a-constant-as-artists-depict-war.html?emc=edit_th_20140831&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=69344483
Ryan, S., & Ryan, D. (n.d.). What is literature? Retrieved August 31, 2014, from http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/siryan/academy/foundation/what_is_literature.htm
Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071
Serafini, F., & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading Workshop 2.0. Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401–404. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=92711892&site=ehost-live
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. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713
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UWCSEA-East Campus. (2013, August). Program Outline – Middle School English – Grade 7. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from https://sites.google.com/a/gapps.uwcsea.edu.sg/east-ms-english/header-3/unit-planners
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Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181–194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).