INF533 Assessment 4 Part C: Critical Reflection

At the start of this subject I was coming from a place where my work as an educational professional was somewhat at war with the digital environment, or at least with the engagement with it through the technology available in my last classroom-teaching experience. I discussed this with Helen in the forums (Styan, Simon, & Croft, 2018). I knew that integration of information and communication technology (ICT) was a requirement of the New South Wales (NSW) Syllabus (NSW Education Standards Authority, n.d.) and was seen as a key part of the role of teacher librarians (TLs) (Combes, 2016, paras. 42-45), but from hard experience, I had lost my enthusiasm for putting it into action.

My exploration of digital literature in the first half of the session was frustrating at times (Simon, 2018d), but I ultimately found some inspiration as mentioned on my blog (Simon, 2018e). Learning about the historical development of digital literature (Rettberg, 2012) was fascinating and readings from practitioners such as Annette Lamb (2011) and Maureen Walsh (2013) gave me practical ideas for how to evaluate and select pieces of digital literature and use them in classroom programs. I still wrestle with the idea that just because literature is digital it requires new literacies to comprehend it, as I discussed on my blog (Simon, 2018c) and in the forum (Simon, 2018a). Nonetheless, David Leu and his colleagues make a strong case for the importance of acknowledging and explicitly supporting specific skills required when reading digital texts (Leu, et al., 2011; Leu, Forzani, Timbrell, & Maykel, 2015). This new understanding underpins my conviction that it is essential for educational professionals to include digital reading experiences in their lessons and to explicitly instruct students in digital literacy across all levels of instruction.

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INF533 Assessment 4 Part A: Context

Stories from Quarantine tells a combination of historical and fictional stories from the North Head Quarantine Station in Sydney, NSW. It is a multi-modal work based on and extending Inside the Quarantine Station (Simon, 2017). It does not fit neatly into the digital literature categorisations of Walsh (2013) or Lamb (2011), but exhibits characteristics of storytelling such as structure, linearity, connection and character enabled by digital affordances (Alexander, 2011, p. 14).

This project was prepared for use by a primary Teacher Librarian or casual classroom teacher in the North Shore area of Sydney. In both roles, one teaches students across various disciplines from Kindergarten through Year Six (K-6). This resource has the potential to be used across various curriculum areas from K-6. Data from seven schools in the locality show Indicator of Community Socio-Economic Advantage (ICSEA) levels ranging between 1151 and 1194 and National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) reading and writing scores that range from state average to well above state average (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). There are minimal amounts of students needing significant learning support, but students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) account for 23% to 53% of school populations making the learning needs of students learning English as a foreign language important to consider.

The Quarantine Station site is an important landmark on Sydney’s North Shore with historical and geographical relevance on all scales from personal to international/global. In addition to having relevance to knowledge area content across the K-6 spectrum, Stories from Quarantine particularly serves Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Inquiry and Skills outcomes from the Australian Curriculum relating to:

  • data collection through observation and sources provided or located, and
  • exploring points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2016b).

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Digital Storytelling – My perspective, including social media and learning connections

This is a direct cross-post of my answer to the Module 4.1 Discussion Forum stimulus:

What questions/answers have formed in your mind in relation to digital storytelling?

For me what has really stood out is the importance of storytelling in education. The New South Wales (NSW) Quality Teaching Framework includes narrative as a component of the element of significance, recognising that narratives engage learners in content in a significant and meaningful way that motivates and consolidates learning (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2008). As Alexander (2011, p.5) and Malita and Martin (2010, p. 3061) indicate, storytelling has been part of the human toolbox for constructing meaning and communicating throughout history and has adapted to evolving communication technologies.

In terms of using digital storytelling in a classroom context, though, I keep coming back to the question one of my course-mates keeps asking – why digital? What added benefit or different dimension is served by choosing digital technology as the medium for this storytelling occasion? Without a satisfactory answer to that question, I am not convinced that it is worth the potential extra hassle that I have often found it to be in the primary government school classrooms where I have worked. This may be as simple a reason as having the opportunity to integrate technology (as required by the General Capability requirements in the curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016)) and be at the Substitution level of the SAMR framework (Puentadura, 2011). Ideally, though, there would be some integral element of the experience that required a digital interface, according to some of the leading definitions of digital literature (Ciccoricco, 2012, p. 471) and there would be at least Augmentation if not one of the transformational levels of the SAMR framework in play (Puentadura, 2011).

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Thoughts on the ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW

Last Thursday, I joined fellow student Liz Parnell at the ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW. On her suggestion, I also took the opportunity to join the ALIA Proficiency Recognition Program PD Scheme. This requires that I reflect on each PD event that I log for the scheme, so here is my reflection on Thursday night:

This panel discussion looked at the theme “Meaningful and respectful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and heritage”, asking the question, “What more do we need to do?” As a non-indigenous person, some key ideas that struck me were that:
* the worldview and philosophical paradigm of Western culture and indigenous culture are very different
* libraries and other institutions need to look at culturally co-designing spaces, programs, processes, policies and so forth for community relevance
* decisions need to be contexualised within the framework of the community of location and service
* non-indigenous people need to take responsibility for their own cultural (and inter-cultural) competence
* we need to flip the narrative from looking from the perspective of a deficit framework to one that values, acknowledges and builds on what already exists.

As I am now studying and not yet working in a library context, the action points I have taken away from this event are to:
* endeavour to seek out, consider honour and incorporate the indigenous perspective into my studies as much as possible and as appropriate.
* take a cultural competency course.
* find out (and at some point, contact) the indigenous community/representative in my community and the community (ies) where I work.


Australian Library and Information Association. (n.d.). Event details: ALIA Leadership and Innovation Forum 2018 – NSW. Retrieved from
Parnell, L. (2018). Liz at the library: Reflections. Retrieved from

Reflecting on Literature Review for EER500

For the first assignment in the subject EER500: Introduction to Educational Research Methods, we were required to write a literature review on the topic of our choice. The purpose of the review was to identify gaps in the literature with a view towards developing a research question to be developed into a research proposal for the final assessment.

I was interested in looking more deeply into research topics surrounding digital literature with respect to primary schools as the other subject that I am taking this session is INF533: Literature in Digital Environments.

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Planning a research proposal with expert hubby help

First assessments have been returned, marked, and discussed in the weekly online meeting. I am happy with my results and impressed with the amount of feedback given by the instructor, Dr James Deehan.

Now it is time to plan a research project and draft a proposal for it. We are continually reminded that we do not have to actually do the research! It may seem slightly silly, but it can get hard to remember as you go through the process of thinking about how to calculate statistics and analyse data that you won’t actually be collecting any data so you won’t really use the calculators and such. So, the reminders are gratefully received.

It has been interesting to me because this part of the subject is really giving me an opportunity to have a real academic dialogue with my husband about my course. Mostly he is on the receiving end of my tirades about subject materials or is giving me helpful, but discipline-uninformed, feedback when proofreading my papers. This time, though, he is able to pass on his experience and understanding. He is an economist and currently the Head of the Economic Research Department at the Reserve Bank of Australia. So, he knows about research methods and statistical analysis and sound study design. He has been very helpful in suggesting design ideas for my study and explaining why some choices are better than others. He has even run dummy data through STATA at work to reassure himself and show to me that the planned method should yield reliable results!

Now to move on from thinking and planning to actually writing this thing!

Testing access

Updated 15 September, 2018:
This was my post to test three different platforms I was considering for my final digital storytelling project. In the end, I didn’t use any of them, for the following reasons:

Adobe Spark (n.d.) – I was concerned that the requirement for reasonably up-to-date equipment and modern browsers could limit implementation in some public schools – especially as the video would not run on the Department of Education-networked computer in the Year Two classroom where I tested these three platforms.

Google VR Tour Creator (Google, n.d.) – The need to create 360 degree photos was a sticking point for this platform. Also, the limitation on the types of annotations you could include in the tour was frustrating.

Thinglink (n.d.) – I could not access this from the test computer under a student login. Since one way I hope to incorporate this project into the curriculum is to use my piece as an exemplar for student creation possibilities, this was an issue. I did learn how to request that a website be unblocked, but the process takes time and would be a major roadblock, especially for my context as a casual teacher – I cannot postpone a lesson for a week or two while waiting for EdConnect to solve my technical difficulties.

Note: As these were quick test objects, they have not had images fully referenced and cited, but all photos are in the public domain so there is no copyright infringement. I will take down the test projects after this session is completed.


Adobe Spark. (n.d.). Free creativity for everyone on the web and mobile, powered by Adobe. Retrieved September 15, 2018 from
Google. (n.d.) Tour Creator. Retrieved from
Simon, M. (2018a). Stories from quarantine [Video file]. Retrieved from
Simon, M. (2018b, September 1). Stories from quarantine [Annotated image file]. Retrieved from
Simon, M. (2018, September 7). Stories of quarantine [Virtual tour file]. Retrieved from
Thinglink. (n.d.) Ignite student creativity. Retrieved September 15, 2018 from

Exploring innovative digital literature and using socially networked reading sites in classroom settings

This is a direct crosspost from the INF533 discussion forum.
Innovative Digital Literature
          As I have mentioned before (Simon, 2018), I really enjoyed Device 6 (Simogo AB, 2014). It is one of the few (perhaps the only) longer form pieces of digital literature that I have found over the past 6 weeks that I have actually completed. I think one reason for that is the whole immersion vs engagement argument (Skaines, 2010). While I do appreciate immersion and have been known to get thoroughly “lost in a book”, I am also a fan of puzzles and interactive engagement in narrative games (though I do have an irritatingly low frustration threshold).  The blending of puzzle interaction and narrative using iPad affordances, such as gyroscopic sensors to navigate through the text, was the perfect combination for me.
          I am still exploring the hypertext puzzle narrative event Planetarium. Unlike transmedia narratives like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which once they have been released as an event are not able to be experienced in the same gradual release, serial, episodic format again, Planetarium has been around for over twenty years and is still released to each new reader in the same gradual format – with access to a new episode on a weekly basis over twelve weeks. I am enjoying it and am intrigued by it, but I am finding it easy to forget about it and lose track of releases. Time will tell whether it holds my attention until the finish.
           I have had more difficulty in identifying digital literature sites that are innovative, appropriate for use in a primary classroom, and affordable for me to access and use as a casual teacher. I have viewed the first two episodes of Inanimate Alice (The Bradfield Company Ltd., 2005-2018) and briefly glanced at the webcomic that bridges the time between those episodes. While I do believe that Inanimate Alice continues to innovate, the older episodes are more appropriately classified as “innovative for their time”. Being dependent on Flash, they face the possibility of becoming obsolete if not updated. I have not yet paid the price to investigate the more recent offerings, but can see that lack of access to earlier episodes might well have negative consequences for later episodes in the series.

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INF533 Assessment 3: Digital Storytelling Proposal

Proposal topic

The digital storytelling project will tell stories from the Quarantine Station at North Head in Sydney, NSW. It will combine historical materials and short pieces of historical fiction in a multi-modal work based on the article Inside the Quarantine Station (Simon, 2017) and related research.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used

I am still deciding on the best base platform to use, but am leaning towards Google’s Tour Creator or Thinglink. I would be using mostly Adobe tools, such as Photoshop Creative Cloud for image manipulation and Spark for video creation (if applicable), to create my multi-media/multi-modal content.

Rationale for topic focus for the digital storytelling project

In my current role as a casual teacher and in my hoped-for future role as a Teacher Librarian in NSW primary schools I need to be prepared to teach students across various disciplines at levels from Kindergarten through Year Six (K-6). The topic of this project has the flexibility and curricular relevance to be used across various curriculum areas from K-6 in my local area schools.

The Quarantine Station site is an important historical landmark local to the majority of schools at which I teach or am likely to accept future employment. Further, it is a site that has had historical and geographical relevance on personal, local, regional, national and international/global scales. The planned digital storytelling artefact would incorporate both fact and historical fiction; images, audio, and text; and primary and secondary source material.

In addition to having relevance to History and Geography Knowledge Area content across the K-6 spectrum, it particularly targets Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Inquiry and Skills outcomes from the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), n.d.) relating to:

    • data collection through observation and sources (primary and secondary) provided or located (ACHASSI001, ACHASSI018, ACHASSI034, ACHASSI053, ACHASSI074, ACHASSI095, ACHASSI123)
    • exploring points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion (ACHASSI005, ACHASSI022, ACHASSI038, ACHASSI056, ACHASSI077, ACHASSI099, ACHASSI127)

The artefact would be used both to engage students in learning information and to provide a model for their own creation of digital narratives. This would fulfil outcomes from both HASS Inquiry and Skills (ACHASSI010, ACHASSI027, ACHASSI043, ACHASSI061, ACHASSI082, ACHASSI105, ACHASSI133) and English (ACELY1654, ACELY1664, ACELY1674, ACELY1685, ACELY1697, ACELY1707, ACELY1717) Learning Areas (ACARA, n.d.).



Adobe. (2018a). Adobe Spark. Retrieved from

Adobe. (2018b). Reimagine reality. Retrieved from!3085!3!155856311942!b!!g!!photoshop%20creative%20cloud&ef_id=WrIQXQAAA0AvufWy:20180901234920:s

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). F-10 Curriculum. Retrieved Spetember 2, 2018 from

Google. (n.d.). Tour Creator. Retrieved from

Simon, M. (2017). Inside the Quarantine Station. HistoriCool, 29, 20-24.

Thinglink. (n.d.). Ignite student creativity. Retrieved from

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