The possibilities and challenges of popular culture artefact selection…(Ryan)

Popular culture artefacts are those things we regularly consume  – texts, films, video games, YouTube clips, popular music, perhaps even Internet usage or ‘web surfing’ itself, and board games, these are the most common that come to mind. In the sense of a school library the most prevalent popular culture artefacts are texts, however the rest are still important and their consideration for inclusion in a library should be carefully considered.

The selection of popular culture artefacts must be based around two decisions – does the artefact have educational merit? Is the artefact appropriate for my library users? A collection development policy is paramount in addressing these questions. A collection development policy is ‘a formal written statement of the principles guiding a library’s selection of books and other materials, including the criteria used in selection, de-selection, and acceptance of gifts. It may also address intellectual freedom, future goals, and special areas of attention (Johnson, 2004, p. 311). Ideally a collection development policy will be created with input from the library community and thus the guidelines and decisions will be indicative of the communities wants and needs. However, it is crucial that decisions are based on careful consideration of the likely users and the educational merit of the artefacts.

With special regard to texts, The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), in collaboration with the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) assert that an excellent teacher-librarian (TL) should…

  • Foster an environment where learners are encouraged and empowered to read, view, listen and respond for understanding and enjoyment

The OECD’s report on Literacy in the Information Age: Final Report of the Adult Literacy Survey (2000) correctly asserts that individuals with low levels of literacy are often faced with an increased likelihood of being unemployed, have greater risk of developing health problems and have shorter life expectancies. Thus, it is imperative that teacher librarians demonstrate an upmost commitment to incorporating popular culture texts in their library, with the hope that these texts result in students being interested and engaged in reading. Reading is a fundamental pillar of lifelong learning and popular culture texts provide a powerful means through which to get young people into the library and borrowing books.

The ALIA and ASLA professional standards have specific implications for the selection and development of popular culture texts in a school library. A TL needs to know what texts young people are interested in and actually engaging with, so that they might make informed selection decisions that ultimately result in students borrowing and hopefully reading popular culture texts. However, I wouldn’t be so naive as to believe that popular culture text selection is as simple as that, and there are distinct challenges associated selecting texts that will hopefully lead to students reading for pleasure and enjoyment. How does a librarian actually determine what is popular? What is going to be borrowed? Does the considered piece of literature provide recreational interest to my library community? What is the didactic value of the text to the collection? Is the cost of the text appropriate to its quality? Is the language and subject matter appropriate for staff and/or students? What happens if my selection decisions are challenged? Further, popular culture texts in a library should be representative of the different cultural and religious groups of the library community. The most important thing here is that answers to these questions are made with the book’s intended and prospective readers in mind.  These questions underpin the importance of professional judgement in all popular culture selection decisions and the importance of a collection development policy.

References

Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher-librarians. Retrieved October 27, 2012 from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm

Johnson, P. (2004). Fundamentals of  collection development and management. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2000). Literacy in the Information Age: Final Report of the Adult Literacy Survey. Retrieved from the OECD website, October 27, 2012 http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/24/21/39437980.pdf

 

Reviewing a popular picture book…(Ryan)

When I was completing my SPP I asked my mentor TL which picture books were popular with students – a large pile of these books were compiled and given to me. When I had some time I read the books she suggested and Dust by Colin Thompson was my favourite. I thoroughly enjoyed it for its rawness and emotional power. This post is a review of that popular text and includes reasons for why it should form part of a school library collection. 

Image courtesy of Harper Collins Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.harpercollins.com/harperimages/isbn/large/6/9780733320736.jpg

Dust is a powerfully confronting and emotional picture book that was a recipient of the 2008 Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Category. Thompson’s work is a narrative of an African child who recounts the final few hours of his and his Mother’s lives before their preventable death from starvation. The inspiration for this story lies in the situation that occurred in Niger, Africa, in 2005, where a drought resulted in the death of thousands of people. Dust was created ‘to raise money to help those who cannot help themselves’ (Thompson, 2007). Dust is a collaboration with thirteen renowned international and Australian illustrators.

Dust is a matter-of-fact, simple, unsentimentally brutal, and powerfully tragic text. The text reads like a report, recounting what happened (or crucially didn’t happen) leading up the the fictional characters’ deaths. The text is simple yet the subtle complexities are extremely powerful. As when the narrator states that ‘tomorrow we will be back in the dust, gathered by the wind and spread across the world’ (Thompson, 2007). It is this matter-of-fact tone, not remarking on the particularly troublesome circumstances associated with his and his Mother’s deaths, that allows the reader to be particularly conscious of the response the narrative demands and the narrator’s portrayal of the events.

The illustrations and the words supplement each other in this story in quite a powerful way and it is the connections the reader makes between the two that allow for the entire meaning to be derived. So when the child declares, ‘I had no years to fall in love, no weeks to laugh, no days to learn that two and three make five’ (Thompson, 2007) the reader knows that this child’s life was taken far too early and that he did not have the opportunity to enjoy those things that are basic human rights and that we take for granted. Kim Gamble’s accompanying illustration here depicts the child-like drawing of two African children as part of a rich tapestry of images including a war-torn African village with house and cars on fire, fruit, bread, books, a tap with running water, a light globe, pencils, and an idyllic coastal front town. Ultimately, it is the connection between both the illustration and the narrative that results in a stark reminder that there are people who, because of factors outside their control, are dying too young and are not fortunate enough to have those necessary items such as food, power, running water and an education.

Image courtesy of Dee Texidor Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://dee.texidor.com/blog/51-dust-shortlisted-for-best-picture-book

 

The illustrations are hauntingly powerful and beautifully constructed. The collaboration of fourteen different illustrators, including Colin Thompson himself, allows the story to hold my attention in ways that are not otherwise possible with a picture that has only the one illustrator. The illustrators are vastly different and each has contributed a unique interpretation of the words from which their illustration was to be accompanied. The illustrations vary widely in form and medium and range from Emma Quay’s stunning white chalk on black depiction of the spirit-like transparency of the nameless child and his Mother’s death, to the realism of David Legge’s ironic evocation of a man pushing his food scraps into the garbage bin on top of a newspaper’s world news section photograph of a starving child with his mouth open holding out an empty plate.

Image Courtesy of The Overall Picture Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.overallpicture.com/artist_portfolio/20-David-LEGGE

 

Thompson (2007), on the back cover, states: ‘in a perfect world this book would not exist. But we do not live in a perfect world. Even if we all learn to live in peace, there will still be millions of people who need our hel’. It is this this concern with compassion, social justice and inequality that is the text’s most alluring thematic concern. This popular text urges the reader to sympathise with the young child and his Mother and this in turn acts as a kind of ‘call to action’ to raise awareness of and provide help to those in third-world countries. It is for these reasons that I think this is a good example of a popular text that should form part of a school’s collection.

This is a brutal and unsentimental book and one which is particularly memorable, moving and powerfully emotive. However, it is for these same reasons that the book is also particularly confrontational, upsetting and at times even a little scary. It is true that the book’s ‘darkness may disturb some readers’ (Library Services’ Resource Evaluation, 2008). Chris Mould’s illustration of the Grim Reaper leading small African children into a bone-yard is likely to disturb some nascent readers and probably won’t  be forgotten for some time. Similarly,  as one of the illustrators, Dee Texidor, notes ‘I understand that for some this is a very sad book, however, it touches on a reality of life, and I felt it was rather gentle in introducing this stark subject to children’ (Dee Texidor, 2008, para. 2) Consequently, Dust is a book that is perhaps not suitable for the really young children. However, this popular text is suitable for anyone (and everyone) from around ten yours upwards, particularly individuals that may need a friendly and subtle reminder that there are others who are far less fortunate. As Thompson (2007) notes in the preface, Dust ‘is not just for the children. I hope to see a copy on every coffee table everywhere. If you don’t drink coffee, buy a copy and put it on your bedside table or kitchen bench or dashboard or surfboard’.

References

Dee Texidor. (2008). ‘Dust’ Shortlisted for Best Picture Book! [Image] Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://dee.texidor.com/blog/51-dust-shortlisted-for-best-picture-book

Harper Collins. (n.d.) Dust. [Image]. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Dust-Colin-Thompson/?isbn=9780733320736

Library Services’ Resources Evaluation. (2008). Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Titles. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://education.qld.gov.au/library/resource/currtopics/cbca-2008.html

The Overall Picture. (n.d.). David Legge’s Portfolio. [Image]. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.overallpicture.com/artist_portfolio/20-David-LEGGE

Thomson, C. (2007). Dust. Sydney, NSW: ABC Books.

 

We all must observe and ask questions…(Substantial Post – Ryan)

The plethora of new and emerging digital and media technologies has brought with it many changes to the way we socialise, work, learn, and ultimately how we live our lives. Interestingly, schooling has by and large remained stubbornly resistant to the changes resulting from the advent of these new technologies (Burnett & Merchant, 2011; Cook, Pachler & Bachmir, 2011; Dowdall 2009). The work of teachers is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the ways students think, learn, and participate in the 21st century digitally mediated world (Buckingham, 2007). Through the use of new digital technologies children now have increasing power to exert agency over the texts and content they produce. New digital technologies do leverage powerful ways for social participation and the term ‘participatory culture’ has been used to capture the essence of these new communicative practices  (Jenkins, 2006, p. 3). As educators, we have a professional responsibility to develop innovative teaching and learning programs that better reflect the kinds of informal learning activities that young people are engaging with, in and around these new technologies. If you are like me then this seems like a huge ask. However, I urge you to take solace in Davies and Merchant’s (2009) suggestion, when referring to digital technologies incorporation with and enhancement of teaching and learning, that we should work on small successes in our progress towards a more ambitious vision. We should start our work towards developing pedagogical moments that are relevant and responsive to the ways students live their lives by observing what and how young people spend their time, asking questions of their engagements, and getting in and having a go with the types of tools they are using.

It is argued here that even a small success with the application of digital technologies into the classroom starts with observation and asking questions – what are the information and communications technologies that young people are engaging with? What are the affordances of these technologies and how are they related to the formal school curricula? How do these popular new technologies affect the ways young people think and learn about the world? These questions assume that the asker has acknowledged that at presently, in whatever place the asker might be, the learning experiences provided aren’t relevant to the ways that students learn about the world and themselves in the world. Similarly, the asker has acknowledged that popular culture and new digital media does affect the way students actually think and learn.

Teresa Rizzo (2008) in her stimulating article, YouTube: the New Cinema of Attractions, posits that the YouTube phenomena can, to a large degree, be explained in terms of the role that spectators once played in early cinema. Using Gunning’s (1990) The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde as her framework Rizzo asserts that viewing YouTube in this way can help us to explain YouTube’s popularity. It is not uncommon to see students engaged in viewing clip after clip searching for ‘moments of novelty, curiosity, or sensationalism that invites them to stop and stare’ (Rizzo, 2008, para. 15). A similar situation can be observed of students’ fascination with memes in their search for a visceral response, a laugh. Employing the type of observation and asking questions argued here – would allow us to first recognise this phenomenon and then we might ask the questions: does this necessitate an increase in students that are partial toward visual learning? Does this affect the depth with which students analyse what they view, read, or engage in more broadly? Are students critical of the way they are positioned to respond to such clips of attraction, i.e a ‘media literacy’ perspective (Burnett & Merchant 2011, p. 54)? How is a student’s attention span affected by their rapid consumption of short clips that only aim to arouse some emotional response? How and in what ways might these clips be used as a hook through which we might initiate students’ attention and draw them into a unit of work? If students are participating and posting comments via the affordances provided by the ‘dialogical nature of the video-sharing sites’ (Rizzo, 2008, para. 26), are they aware of the implications of their digital footprint? How might we devise and implement learning programs that target safe and responsible use of such sites? These questions and observations allow us to position youth popular culture and digital technology as distinct pedagogical moments in their own right. Dewey (2010, p. 19) argued, when writing in 1906, ‘it is the goal of education to make our schools an embryonic community life active with the types of occupations that reflect the life of the larger society’. Observing and asking questions of the kinds of occupations students are engaging, as are advocated here, might go a long way in the realisation of Dewey’s admirable goal.

Critical observation and perhaps even the asking of questions might result in recognition of the importance of mobile media to the way students think and learn. Beach and O’Brien (2008) exemplify the type of observation and asking of questions advocated here. They suggest that young people desire to be constantly connected, ‘but they also express cravings and feelings of discomfort and isolation when they are not connected, via the Web, cell phones, text messaging, and IMing’ (Beach & O’Brien 2008, p. 778). How then are students expected to learn when they are experiencing discomfort? Further, Beach and O’Brien’s (2008, p. 778) observation here has profound implications for the way schools approach what Jenkins (2006, p. 3) refers to as ‘the participation gap’. This phenomenon states that unequal access to the kinds of skills, knowledge, and attributes that are developed from the use and engagement with digital technologies will result in young people that are not fully prepared for participation in the social and vocational world of tomorrow (Jenkins 2006, p. 3). Certainly the removal or banning of the devices that support the development of the critical skills required for successful life in tomorrow’s world will greatly increase the participation gap. The converse is similarly true, and the incorporation of technologies into pedagogy that support connection can be powerful ways through which to raise student interest and engagement and make schooling more relevant to the lives of our students.

Observation and asking questions could result in an understanding of the importance of young peoples’ engagement with various technologies of communication and the popular-culture texts they allow access to. Observation and conventional wisdom would suggest that students are accustomed to multitasking with digital tools and it is not uncommon for teenagers to study on a laptop, whilst listening to their iPod, in front of a television. Beach and O’Brien (2008, p. 778) refer to scientific research that has demonstrated that childrens’ brain structure is actually changing to allow for better efficiency in this multitasking with digital media, what they refer to as ‘multimediating’. This has profound implications for the way that students consume popular-culture texts and create multimodal texts and teachers’ continual reliance on print-based texts must be challenged. Similarly, the ‘multiple mediations for constructing ways of knowing and valuing the world’ through popular-culture texts means that learning programs must foster the development of media literacy. Aufderhire (as cited in Koltay 2011, p. 212) states that ‘a media literate person – and everyone should have the opportunity to become one – can decode, evaluate, analyse and produce both print and electronic media’. An awareness of the ways that we both use and are used by popular-culture texts is something that we must develop in order to address what Jenkins (2006, p. 3) has referred to as ‘the transparency problem’. This problem suggests that pedagogical interventions must be designed that address ‘the challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world’ (Jenkins 2006, p. 3).

Teachers must acknowledge the gap that currently exists between the inside and outside school lifeworlds of students. This post has advocated that teachers must be willing to observe and ask questions of the engagements of young people. Employing critical observation skills into our practice could help us to recognise the gaps in current practice and to devise learning programs that reflect the informal learning activities that students engage in. Similarly, teachers need to question their role in society where ‘learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity’ (Siemans 2004, para. 33). The advent of new digital technologies and young peoples’ high usage of these devices requires teachers to address issues associated with unequal access to the skills that students will need in order to participate in society. Finally, teachers must look to devise pedagogical moments that help young people to see the ways that popular-culture texts and the media shape their perceptions of the world around them.

References

Beach, R., & O’Brien, D. (2008). Chapter 27: Teaching popular-culture texts in the classroom. In Coiro, J. et al., Handbook of research on new literacies (pp. 775-804). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Buckingham, D. (2007). Beyond technology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Burnett, C. Merchant, G. (2011). Is there a space for critical literacy in the context of new media? English, Practice and Critique, 10(1)4157

Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(3), 181-195.

Dewey, J. (2010). Works of John Dewey. Retrieved from http://ez.library.latrobe.edu.au:2071/(S(f0ptwr3nsgcqlzg3uzugwngw))/Reader.aspx?p=543078&o=155&u=1EEztg9Q0x%2f%2fnZNgcyGeoQ==&t=1338962869&h=FCF60D29B4DD46CCE15BB3516EA7B1D08BEDA3C1&s=6110969&ut=492&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n

Dowdall, C. (2009). Masters and Critics: Children as Producers of Online Digital Texts. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: social learning and classroom practices (pp. 43-61). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison., & Weigal, M. (2006). Confronting the Chanllenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from  http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2108773/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id=%7BCD911571-0240-4714-A93B-1D0C07C7B6C1%7D&notoc=1

Koltay, T. (2011). The media and the literacies: media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. Media Culture & Society, 33(2). Retrieved October 25, 2012 from http://abk.szie.hu/files/docs/ikt/mcs.pdf

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. elearnspace. Retrieved October 23, 2012, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Rizzo, T. (2008) You Tube: the New Cinema of Attractions. Scan, 5(1). Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://scan.net.au/scan/journal/display.php?journal_id=109

 

What are young people reading and what does that mean for the school librarian? (Ryan)

I have been spending some of my SPP time at the school that I am on leave from and when I wanted to find a few students to interview regarding what they are reading this is where I turned. When I was completing my SPP I quickly realised that it is always the same few students that are coming into the library and that are borrowing books – so I approached a couple of these students and asked for some of their time. I made cognitive note to work hard when I am employed in a school library to devise strategies to get the students in that wouldn’t normally dare step inside a library. The two students that I interviewed state that they love to read and that Helen, the librarian, was always suggesting and offering them books that she thinks they might like. I think the exercise of interviewing students, perhaps in a less structured manner than was employed here, is an excellent way of finding out what authors and books students are actually reading and this could certainly go a long way in making appropriate book selection decisions and consequently getting students reading.

The first student I spoke with was Sam, a Year 9 boy that, according to the librarian, is always in the library and regularly borrows two, three, or even more books at a time…

So, Tom what is your all-time favourite book? That’s easy (laughs), definitely Eragon by Christopher Paolini, in fact I like the whole Inheritance series

Image courtesy of Random House Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/competitions/win-christopher-paolinis-the-inheritance-cycle-series

Oh…so you like fantasy? What do you think it is about Eragon or the Inheritance series that appeals to you? Yeah fantasy/action is great…I like books that hook you in and keep you turning the pages. I also like that fact that when it finishes I can just go straight on to the next one.

What do you think of the selection of fantasy and action that is available here at the library? Yeah it is good, although I have read most of them now (laughs). Helen knows what types of books I like to read and she always lets me know if she gets something new in that will interest me.

So you are reading another title from the inheritance series at the moment? No, I’m reading I Am Number Four and I have also just started The Golden Door. 

Image Courtesy of Southern Broadcasting Company Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie/10822/I-Am-Number-Four-

Oh wow, two great authors thereHave you seen the film of I Am Number Four? No not yet, but can’t wait to. I always like to read the book before the film though.

So who is your favourite author? Ummm tough one but I would have to say Christopher Paolini. I also like Robert Cormier – I absolutely love The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese. 

I really like Robert Cormier too! Great choice. What is the funniest book that you have ever read? Can I say the Garfield Comics? They always make me laugh, yeah it would have them.

Image courtesy of Clicks & Comics Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://www.2-clicks-comics.com/comic-book-characters-letter-g/garfield-comics.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course you can say the Garfield Comics. Where do you like to read? Well anywhere really, it’s more about having the time. I have so much homework these days that is actually hard to get a chance to read. When I do have some spare time, I love to sit in the backyard in the sun and read.

I definitely know what you mean by not having time to read! What a shame it is. Final question, have you ever been inspired by a book? Umm tough question…let me think about that…well after I read The Ranger’s Apprentice I then wrote a piece of writing in that style.  

Thanks very much for talking with me Tom.

The second student I spoke with was a Year 8 girl, Grace, and she is also a regular library user.

Hi Grace, what is you favourite book? Probably Hunger Games, this is a real action-packed page turner and I just loved it!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games

Indeed it is a very popular one too. Do you have a favourite genre? Umm no not really but at the moment I am loving action and action/romance (laughs).

What do you think of this school’s library? It has some pretty good books and the librarian helps me to find books that are interesting.

That’s great. What are you reading at the moment? Well, I just finished Gracie the sequel to Dougie (which we read in class). I am about to get another book out over the next couple of days actually.

I haven’t actually read Dougie, but I have been meaning to for some time now. Who is your favourite author? I actually have a couple…Suzanne Collins. Actually, who wrote Twilight again? Well her,

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl

Stephanie Meyer, that is it. I also love Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl, I like him too, a lot…a very interesting writer. Where do you like to read Grace? In bed for sure! There is not better place (laughs).

Image courtesy of Allen & Unwin Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=397&book=9781865089997

Ok, last question. Have you ever been inspired from a book? As in the book made you change the way you thought about or acted towards something? Umm…I’m not sure…when I was reading Parvana’s Journey, in one part there were rats under her bed, so I stopped reading and cleaned under my bed (laughs).

Haha, that’s exactly what I meant. Thanks for your time Grace.

Clearly the books that young people do play an important part in students’ lives (Hall, 2011). I was taken aback by the way they spoke about their favourite books and how seriously they took their pursuit of finding and enjoying good read. It would have been interesting if I interviewed a person about that wasn’t a regular library visitor to get their opinions on reading, texts, and authors. I think there is significant scope to use popular culture texts to inspire students and Tom’s inspiration of writing in a similar style to a book he read is something I look forward to trying in my classes. Similarly, conducting this interview has helped to give me a better understanding of some of the popular culture texts that some students are engaging in and this could be used in the classroom as a powerful way to get all students to contribute and feel comfortable participating. Hall (2011, p. 302) asserts that youth use popular culture texts to ‘shape their discussion and inform their understandings about academic texts’ and consequently, as a librarian, providing access to popular culture texts are important for allowing students to achieve this. After completing these interviews I realised how important it is to understand the school community and what and who its members read. I think this is an important part of making informed selection decisions. When I am employed in a library I am going to make sure that I talk with and find out what students’ and staff are engaging with in order to make sure that my library is responsive to their recreational and scholastic needs. Similarly, I am going to work hard at promoting the importance of reading in our lives. I also plan to make sure that I set aside some of my time to read more often!

References

Allen & Unwin. (2012). Parvana’s Journey. [Image]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=397&book=9781865089997

Clicks & Comics. (2012). The Garfield Comics. [Image]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://www.2-clicks-comics.com/comic-book-characters-letter-g/garfield-comics.html

Hall, L. (2011). How popular culture texts informa and shape students’ discussions of social studies texts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(4), 296-305. doi: 10. 1002/JAAL.00036

Random House. (2012). Win! Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. [Image]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from  http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/competitions/win-christopher-paolinis-the-inheritance-cycle-series

Southern Broadcasting Company. (2012). I Am Number Four. [Image]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie/10822/I-Am-Number-Four-

Wikipedia. (2012). The Hunger Games. [Image] Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games

Wikipedia. (2012). Roald Dahl. [Image]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl

 

The Positive Effect of Gamification on Education – Week 9 (Substantial post – Therese)

Karen Bonanno coined the term “Gamification” at the Creating Future Libraries conference (22/10/12). Bonanno stated that using games as educational tools would allow students to “develop high cognitive ability in being able to make decisions and be responsible for the outcome of those decisions”.  This statement is backed up by Williamson (2009, p. 6) with research conducted in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009.  The initial decisions on the research study were debated in the previous year (Williamson, 2009, p. 7).

I discovered an Education Queensland (EQ) gaming information site during my research.  I started to think that using games in an EQ school was more widely spread than I thought.  I would appear that through resent budget cuts the project is no longer being maintained.  As I navigated my way through the site I discovered that many pages led to errors, or page no longer having information.  This was disappointing.  This follows an observation that I have made at my school that games are seen as “fun” and not having educational value.  Only a few teachers are using any games in my school and when they do it is generally a reward not related to class work.

Games though, in the main are not new.  I have used games and making game boards for assessment.  I am sure that games could be used in many Key Learning Areas (KLA’s) within the education field.  Engaging with computer games have an added appeal, especially well created games that have definite goals, multi-levels and an ability to progress through levels and save and compare with other players.  It has only been in recent years that the limited educational benefits of gaming has been challenged (Williamson,  2009, p.9).

Many see games as being as unsafe a review, as reported in the Byron Review in Williamson (2009 p. 9) states that children should be supported in knowing the risks involved rather than protecting from it all together. The Byron Review in Williamson (2009, p. 9) purports that parents and significant adults need educating with media literacy to promote the safe use of games with children.  Williamson then reports on how games are persuasive in their nature (2009 p. 12).  “To think of games as persuasive therefore means recognising that games have the power to influence people’s thinking, and to make them think about things in certain ways.” (Williamson, 2009, p. 12)

 

Thinking is a large part of game play.  Players make a move then depending on the move they make they are responsible for what happens next in the game.  The players take risks and must deal with the consequences of the action.  Through this action the player is learning.  Gee (2003) suggests that playing a game “represents a process” that allows skills to be learnt

Using games for educational purposes can, it is argued, allow learners to adopt the identities and practices of professional innovators in a variety of fields (Shaffer in Gee, 2003, p. 14).  If students are given the opportunity to create their own game electronically, they are able to create a multi-faceted, multi-levelled game.  The experience in creating this type of game students can bring what they know of technology outside the school context and create something in school that emulates real life. Another positive about computer games and electronic games is that they can be team games.  For students that are not altogether the most physical of beings they may not have many opportunities to build team relationships.  Working on a computer gaming project can allow students to learn how to work together and problem solve while building their game (Gee.  This is a very useful ability to have, working in a team, when adulthood is reached and the working world demands teams working and creating together.

Playing games also allows students to experiment with problem solving.  As Gee explored in his own experimentation with playing games  he made some discoveries about his own learning and applied it to what students do at school(1999, p. 1). Playing complex computer games actually make you think about your actions and what choices you make in the game. “Humans actually enjoy

learning, though sometimes in school you wouldn’t know that” (Gee, 1999, p. 3).

 

Gaming in schools has a long way to go in becoming a meaningful addition to the school curriculum.  Technology has allowed for playing of games but there are innovations that will need to be created to allow for more students to create their own games. Stone in Williamson states that “‘Play’ is therefore seemingly a new way of doing work, and playing computer games is preparing young people for new ways of working” (1999, p. 18).  The future of our students is unknown as to what they will need to know when they enter the workforce, but what they will need to be able to do is to work with others to solve problems and create solutions.  Playing games will assist them in fulfilling this need.  With insight by the powers that control funding for projects that assist teachers with gaming and ICT in schools will allow for funds to be put back so that these projects can assist the students of today for their place in society in the future.

 

References

Bonanno, K. (2012) Beyond the Inquiry: Community and Knowledge creation. Keynote speech from Creating Libraries of the Future Conference 22/10/12.

Gee, J.P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kopelke, K. (2008). Games in Learning Project. (viewed: 22/10/12) http://learningplace.com.au/defaulteqa2.asp?orgid=35&suborgid=614

Williamson, B. (2009). Computer games, schools, and young people: A report for educators on using games for learning. Futurelab. (viewed: 22/10/12) www.futurelab.org.uk/projects/games-and-learning.

 

 

The smart phone trojan horse (Sharon – Substantial Post)

Phones are a nuisance in class, or so I thought.  A common view is that they are at best distracting, at worse their lurking cameras are waiting to record something about your teaching that is best not emailed around.  Or uploaded to youtube with your name attached and a link sent to your colleagues… or Principal…or the media.

This subject challenged me to reconsider this attitude and had me rethinking my entire conception of what the future of teaching and school relationships with students could be in the not-too-distant future.  Despite the misgivings surrounding the use of mobile devices – mostly phones, but also tablets and smaller laptops – in schools, the impact these will have on learning is enormous yet perhaps in ways that exceed much of the commentary within the literature.  In part this is because mobile devices are not just tools, but a student-controlled link to a massive array of programs and relationships that will disrupt schooling in significant and perhaps poorly understood ways.

Mobile devices can simply be a means of getting computing and internet search tools into a class that can’t afford them – the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model. This model sees parent-supplied mobile devices being a substitute for school-supplied devices.  Apps cater to specialised functions of teaching and even assessment, quizzes and so on.  Phones are also cameras and basic editing devices, and allow students to do any number of other media and communication tasks.  Yet in this limited view, mobile devices are just another tool.

However, thinking of mobile devices as tools under-sells the affordances that these technologies – and more to the point, the relationships that these devices engender – have on the school.  Crook (2012, p.64) would place mobile phones with other internet-enabled tools which mean users produce rather than just consume media: they are part of a “participatory web” (ibid).

One interesting  contribution to the debate comes from Cook, Pachler and Bachmair (2011) who argue that mobiles need to be understood as part of a “socio-cultural ecology of mobile learning” (p.184). Mobiles within learning are in part shaped by technical and institutional structures, student agency and cultural practices.   Cook et al (2011) argue that the interaction of these must be understood if mobile devices’ potential for learning is to be realised.  Student agency is enhanced in such a participatory culture which has “the potential to support new or extended forms of participation and collaboration that could promote learning” (Burnett and Merchant, 2011, p.41) via social media and other online formats.  Schools can marshal media to extend educational experiences beyond the class.  Apps such as ko-su.com or Socrative  give teachers capacity to give quizzes via mobile device – a sleeker if simpler extension of simple email ‘homework’.  This view is still based on the perception that mobile devices are tools, albeit ones harnessed to “anywhere, anytime learning” (Shuler, 2009, 17) within social contexts.

The research it seems, has just begun to grapple with the possibilities that might come from students having their own very powerful tool as well as being engaged in individualised ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ relationships to media. The research tends to discuss affective improvements in student attitudes to learning.  Cook et al (2011) discuss a new “habitus of learning” , a term that invokes the Bourdieu concept of habitus as “dispositions structured by experiences” (Bennett and Maton, 2010, p.326).  The radical implications of this idea have not really been grasped though.  Much of the literature, such as Castells (in Bennett and Maton, 2010, p.326) or Lankshear and Knobel (2006, in Merchant, 2009) discusses social media that emphasises new patterns of sociability based on individualism. The application to schools of this new socially mediated activity has been seen as problematic with at best social media being subjected to critical enquiry or used as a kind of crowd-sourced self-help forum.  Schools take from student social media skills and knowledge and apply these to their own curriculum.

The radical development will be when student learning autonomy is applied to schooling not just as a selective school-run add-on, but as a primary form of the student-school relationship.  This will mean that schools will have to accept external, non-school sources of instruction and guidance as a legitimate and valid part of their students’ learning.  This will mean that the processes and engagement that comes from social media will be applied to the different forms of “pedagogized” (Singh 2002, in Bennett and Maton, 2010, p.327) discourses and knowledge operating within schools.  Yet it won’t be schools that access students’ informal social media resources: students will bring externally sourced, mobile device mediated educational resources to school in parallel, even in competition to school authorised ones.

This means that schools have to concede that school-based learning is not just produced or curated by them for student use: students will (with third parties) start to augment learning with content, resources and support they independently source.  Parents often purchase learning apps for use at home to support learning but these have the potential to support students within the class.

Older students can employ learning apps for content support.  Thinking skills can be supported too.  This is a sort of Web 1.0 kind of support in class.  Web 2.0 interaction is the radical part: when students engage with external learning support within the class via mobile devices.   Imagine if students discuss classroom tasks not with their class teacher, nor their peers, but with an online tutor. ESL applications might be first. For instance, students may seek instant native language explanations of complex tasks or topics that the classroom teacher just can’t provide. The student may be streaming a camera shot of the text so that the tutor can discuss its meaning.  Imagine learning support that is ‘live’ for students to get tasks explained or reformulated on demand in ways that the classroom teacher cannot or has too little time to properly scaffold or differentiate for different learning needs.  This is not so far away: online translation services already exist as do on-demand human support for tutoring services which could readily be used for in-class support.  The use of off-shore, cheaper tutors makes this a relatively affordable option.

Mobiles thus encourage informal, a-synchronous learning that could stimulate changes to pedagogical approaches from undifferentiated, teacher-led ones, to a more collaborative teacher-student relationship that incorporates greater individualisation in learning.  Yet one of the aspects that the course readings did not mention was how phone cameras and audio recording possibly mark the end to the traditional power discourses operating within schools.  Has the ability of parents (or their agents) to use their children’s phones to record classrooms meant that the monopoly of surveillance Foucault identified has been reversed, with parents able to regulate class activities using independent mobile devices- regulations that traditionally were controlled by schools?

Some extreme teacher misbehaviour  has been secretly recorded in this way already: will the minutiae of teacher implementation of individual education plans be next?  Will parent teacher evenings be more about the parent informing the teacher of their performance rather than the teacher describing the student’s?

This all suggests there are major implications for schools within this understanding of mobile devices: the locus of control has shifted from a socially authoritative institution (the school) to the individual, perhaps a child.  As Cook et al note, “mobile devices are mediating access to external representations of knowledge in a manner that provides access to cultural resources” (Cook, et al, 2011, p.187).  This course has therefore left me wondering if we need to consider how mobile devices do more than just provide other ways of getting information or encouraging students to feel engaged through device-mediated social learning.  Perhaps we could revisit theorists such as Foucault and see how the mobile device does not just disrupt traditional power discourses and epistemologies (Deacon, 2006, p.183) but in fact replace them.  This means we should seek theories which do more than those that attempt to “unravel, or deconstruct, those power structures which serve to maintain the unhappy conditions in schools, [so]  we can begin to create a society and an educational system which is more just, fair and democratic” (Critical Pedagogy Forum, 2012). We should be asking whether mobile devices, their affordances and the new, disruptive relationships that they engender, will produce other – as yet unconsidered – power relations and inequalities.

 

References

Bennett, S. and Maton, K. (2010 ) Beyond the ‘digital natives’ debate: Towards a more nuanced understanding of students’ technology experiences ‘ Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2010), 26, 321–331

Burnett, C. & Merchant, G. (2011). Is there a space for critical literacy in the context of new media?English, Practice and Critique, 10, 1, 4157.

Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media 8(3), 181-195.

Critical Pedagogy Forum (2012) Michel Foucault. Retrieved 22 October, 2012 from http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/Michel_Foucault.htm

Crook, C. (2012). The ‘digital native’ in context: Tensions associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting. Oxford Review of Education. 38(1), 63-80.

Deacon, R. (2006) ‘Michel Foucault on education: a preliminary theoretical overview’. South African Journal of Education. Vol 26(2),177–187.

Merchant, G. (2009) ‘Web 2.0, new literacy and the idea of learning through participation’, English Teaching: Practice and Critique, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.107–122.

Shuler, C. (2009). Pockets of potential: Using mobile technologies to promote children’s learning. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

 

School 2.0: no really, it will be new. (Sharon – Substantial Post)

One of the most startling things this course has shown me was that schools, and libraries, really will be in for a dramatic period of change with widespread implications for how we understand literacy education.  While I never believed the doomsayers who argued that we were wasting our time with new technology, I also did not see a revolution around the corner.  Just as VHS videos, electronic whiteboards and the internet made their appearance and were assimilated into literacy-based classes, I thought mobile devices and the apps and programs that power these were just another of these that would prove to be quite useful, though not radically so.  I had read the early findings of 1:1 laptop integration in schools that found “little or no sustained and scaled effects on teaching, learning, and achievement” (Weston and Bain, 2010, p.8) and “no trend over the last decade that shows that technology in the classroom improves test scores, and in some cases, test scores have fallen” (Lenz, 2011).  These seemed normal problems with dealing with new technologies: it takes time to assimilate these things well into classes, but they would be assimilated and things would go on pretty much as they had.  The only change was how literacy education now had new delivery methods and new text types.  Surely schools could integrate this technology and the literacies associated with them, just as they had in the past?

But this view that new technologies produce just incremental change missed some important developments.  In part this was a result of the application to new media of prior views of literacy as social and cultural practices.  The dominant model of literacy emphasised the operational: technical skills of communication, the cultural: capacity to use these skills meaningfully in various contexts and the critical: the capacity to “critique the tools and practices of literacy . . . that better serve social justice” (Facer, 2011, p.226).  This was bread and butter stuff for Queensland English teachers in particular who were encouraged to use  (see Santoro, n.d) Luke and Freebody’s Four Resource Model  (see Luke and Freebody, 1999).   Yet not much had changed in schools except the text types and critical approaches to text analysis it seemed.

Yet the pace and nature of mobile devices and the ubiquity of web 2.0 communication and relationships mean that schools will change, and not just incrementally.  It will not be possible for schools to maintain a ‘socio-cultural’ separateness that constrains the use of web 2.0 practices and associated literacies  in schools as Crook (2012, p.63) observed – the changes will force a change.  The mismatch between how schools develop knowledge and how students do this in private realms will be difficult to bridge. Schools use knowledge that is ordered, arranged and related to other knowledge whereas informal everyday knowledge is contextually specific and directed to specific goals – vertical vs horizontal, in Bernstein’s conceptualisation (Bernstein, 1999 in Bennett and Maton, 2010, p.327). Schools are adept at stifling children’s use of new technologies and their “unprecedented power and authority as publishers and disseminators of text” (Dowdall, 2009, p.45).  Students realise schools do not authentically incorporate web 2.0 activities, even to the point where ‘diligent’ students eschewed web 2.0 practices in schools because it was seen as a distraction (Tan, 2008, p.10). Change is thus going to be hard.

The change agent for literacy education will therefore not be change due to top-down theory, nor will it come from private student practices colonising school classrooms.  The change will come from changes to the real economy and the broader culture beyond social media and private entertainment forms of the web 2.0 mediascape.   Schools cannot ignore new literacies. New “post-Fordist” or “fast capitalist” (Gee, 1994, in Cope and Kalantzis, 2000, p.11) corporate and institutional ways of working demand this.  As a result, schools are being asked to develop not just literacy in and of the new media (and a critical evaluation of the social and cultural factors that shape these), but a broader set of literacy competencies that “emphasises unpicking, exploring and transforming the power relations housed within and around texts, as well as an interrogation of the interplaying economic and cultural forces that act upon texts”  (Dowdall, 2009, p.47).   Perhaps greater elaboration needs to be given to expanding these ideas to incorporate a critical interrogation of the power relations that influence the practices and even the forms of web 2.0 literacies and their associated ways of working.

These new literacies reflect how new technologies are “changing the nature of “perennial” skills valuable throughout history, as well as creating new “contextual” skills unique to new millennium work and citizenship” (Dede, 2010, p.53).   The language used here is important: skills are not the same as literacies but a critical literacy of these very skills and their associated power relations necessarily brings the two concepts together.

Some of these new literacies are beginning to be developed, although the editors of the NMC Horizon Project Short List: 2012 K-12 Edition noted that “ A detailed review of the literature found almost no research in this area, and a paucity of examples or demonstration projects related to practical assessment of 21st Century Skills” (Johnson, Adams and Cummins, 2012).  Yet there are some initial elaborations of these. The 21st Century Fluency Project develops the kind of literacies explored above with creativity and skills in collaboration and problem-solving.

 http://www.fluency21.com/fluencies.cfm

In a similar vein, Learning.com’s 21st Century Skills Assessment aims to provide a grasp of critical 21st century skills and to develop students’ creativity, innovation, information fluency, critical thinking, decision-making and digital citizenship.  The University of Melbourne is developing a project sponsored by Microsoft, Intel and Cisco called ATC21S  which “is developing methods to assess skills that will form the basis for 21st-century curricula, with an emphasis on communication and collaboration, problem-solving, citizenship, and digital fluency”.  And from 2015 PISA testing will start to assess these new competencies such a collaborative problem–solving  (Griffin, 2012).  The significance that is placed on Australia’s performance in these tests will drive calls for schools to rapidly adapt to this focus on 21st century skills. These literacies or fluencies emphasise far more than ‘text user’ skills elaborated in Luke and Freebody’s literacy model.  These literacies are inseparable from broader communicative practices and relationships that are heavily technologically mediated.  The danger is that so much emphasis is given to the formulation of these literacies that insufficient thought is given to equipping students to critically assess the nature of neither the texts produced nor the processes through which they were constructed.

These changes to assessment will drive changes to classroom practice in a way that both exceeds the use of critical literacies of texts or the co-option of students’ private literacy practices into schools.  Literacy in our classes must therefore juggle the need to assimilate new skills and literacies (and many technologies) with an ability to examine the underlying power and institutional structures that influence the selection and use of these literacies.    The real challenge for schools will be to see if our additive model of school change will be able to cope with this massive shift in not just what students learn but how they do so or whether a radical reorganisation will be required for us to do this properly.

 

References

ATCS (2012) Innovations.  Retreived 13 October, 2012 from www.atc21s.org/index.php/resources/white-papers/

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: literacy learning and the design of social futures. London: Routledge.

Crook, C. (2012). The ‘digital native’ in context: tensions associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting. Oxford Review of Education. 38(1), 63-80.

Dede, C. (2010). Comparing Frameworks for 21st Century Skills. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt, Eds, 21st Century Skills, pp. 51-76. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Dowdall, C. (2009). Masters and critics: Children as producers of online digital texts. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (eds) Digital Literacies: Social learning and classroom practices. (pp. 43-61) Los Angeles: Sage.

Facer, K. (2011). What futures for digital literacy in the 21st century? In L. Stergioulas & H. Drenoyanni (Eds.). Pursuing digital literacy in compulsory education (pp. 223-240). New York: Peter Lang.

Griffin, P. (2012). Changing tests and the PM’s 2025 goal for schools. Retrieved from http://theconversation.edu.au/changing-tests-and-the-pms-2025-goal-for-schools-7280

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

learning.com (2012). 21st-century-skills-assessment. Retreived 15 October, 2012. http://www.learning.com/about/index.htm

Lenz, S. (2011). Data, critics question value of technology in the classroom. Deseret News. 6 September, 2011. Retreived 13 October 2012 from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700176771/Data-critics-question-value-of-technology-in-the-classroom.html?pg=all

Luke, A. and Freebody, A. (1999).  ‘Further Notes on the Four Resources Model’ Reading Online, www.readingonline.org.  Posted August 1999

Santoro, N ( n.d )  Using the four resources model across the curriculum, Retreived 18 October 2012 from  http://education.qld.gov.au/literacy/docs/four-resource-model.pdf

Tan, Jennifer Pei-Ling and McWilliam, Erica L. (2008) Digital or Diligent? Web 2.0’s challenge to formal schooling. In Proceedings Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) 2008 International Education Conference, Brisbane.

Weston, M.E. & Bain, A. (2010). The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(6). Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/jtla/article/view/1611/1458 

 

 

 

Are you M.A.D.? (Substantial Post – Michelle Nye)

Retrieved from http://blog.msbcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Make-a-Difference.jpg

Undertaking tertiary study whilst working full time has been a roller coaster ride – I have chosen to continue the journey of life-long learning and strive to make a difference (M.A.D.).  In an era where technology is changing at such a rapid rate it is an exciting time to be an active participant just like the youth of today.  Henry Jenkins’ web blog discusses that “convergence represents a shift in cultural logic, whereby consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections between dispersed media content” (2006, Para 4) and this is where significant difference can be made. Reflections on this particular unit can be categorised into three areas:

  1. Popular culture impacts texts that youth participate with
  2. New media/smart technology enables new library systems to develop
  3. Curriculum connection is the key to being connected and relevant

IMPACT

Jenkins states in his Ted Talk  that “with great power comes great responsibility” (2010). The youth of today are in a position of great power as digitally mediated people who actively participate in the creation of innovative and exciting new “produsage” (Kapitzke, 2009) where the lines of production and usage are blurred. The responsibility to teach authentication with respect to copyright is now even more important “because copyright stands at the intersection of access to learning, literacy, culture, knowledge, and technology today, it comprises a site for the renewal and regeneration of school library media centers” (Kapitzke, 2009, p. 105). ACER eNews reports that “99% of Australian students have a computer in their home” (2012 p. 1) which provides unprecedented access to a wider range of activities, opinion, information and ultimately texts. The popular culture of today is surrounded in new and ever changing methods of communicating and text use. This “technology has opened up the ways we think about a text as a communicative act and as an artefact” (O’Sullivan, 2012, p. 207) and this demands that our pedagogy is impacted too. One response to this is to support students with access to a new range of tools that include web based technologies and rich language experiences. Online reading comprehension skills are described as being complex and that the “internet is now a central source of information, and learning is dependent on the ability to read and comprehend complex information at high levels” (Leu et al., 2011, p. 11).

ENABLES

New types of media and smart technology available have changed the ecology of learning. Cook, Pachler and Bachmair include mobile devices as “cultural resources that operate within an individualised, mobile and convergent mass communication” (2011, p. 181). Laptops, iPads, smart phones and the like are increasingly becoming a virtual library for information and resource needs. Virtual libraries, eBooks and other multimedia options have changed the way we read. Choice surrounds us when reading today; choice of device, choice of a book, eBook or a screencast etc. It has been proven that there are no disadvantages to reading from electronic devices – a result from the world’s first study undertaken by the Research Unit Media Convergence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Some people prefer the reassuring, feel-the-weight, take-your-time, tactile relationship a hard book brings, others favour the use of electronic text for its ease and portability. The new digital environment has created some new issues of ethics in regards to ownership, copyrights and plagiarism. We are able to access online collections and data bases from across the world and have adopted an “always on” culture where we can have information pushed onto us at anytime and anyplace providing you can find connectivity to Wi-Fi. This is an exciting time as adopting these new technologies enables new networks to be created in this internet-based education paradigm. We have the potential for almost unlimited learning where information, knowledge, discussion, debate and research can all be carried out online. It could be argued that the ecology of information and learning are both undergoing a radical redesign.

CONNECTION

With access to online learning environments there is an almost unlimited ability to create connections with other groups of learners who can all build upon each other. With email, twitter, blogging, Skype, Hangout and other game based and virtual ways of communicating, collaborative learning is now more powerful than ever before. The internet brings connectivity and this opens up the potential for innovation and inspiration for gaming to be embedded into the curriculum. With the cultural changes in information and learning our curriculum and assessment needs are also changing. James Gee (2011) views games as an opportunity to learn and do, whilst being immersed in creative problem solving. The educational benefits are low risk, where a “can try”  attitude towards thinking is adopted and exploration of knowledge and collaboration is enhanced. Aspects of this could play a key role in developing curriculum that is motivating for our students. The benefits of connecting gaming with curriculum would ensure that the game would be the tool and learning and experimenting would support the educational outcomes. The focus on teaching and learning is paramount and not the technology.

Beach and O’Brien suppose that the reforming of “school curricula to teach students the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognise and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms” (2008, p. 779) are the new requirements needed in this digitally medicated world. This world is  filled with popular culture where reading and literacy development are key to authentic learning. The opportunity to teach others how to manage this new found power of understanding ethics with integrity is the challenge. The interconnected global society provides a new chance to know each other in a direct or indirect manner where the process of critical reflection is valued. There is empowerment in the process of thinking, considering, discussing, deciding and reviewing. Are you Making A Difference? I am, as I have been challenged to remix education, action and advocacy.

References:

ACER (2012). Australian students ranked 2nd in digital reading. E-news. http://www.acer.edu.au/enews/2012/05/australian-students-ranked-2nd-in-digital-reading-literacy

Beach, R. & O’Brien, D. (2008). Teaching popular culture texts in the classroom. In D. Leu, J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear (Eds.). Handbook of research on new literacies (pp. 775-804). London: Routledge.

Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media 8(3), 181-195.

Gee, J. (2011, February 13). Digital Media – New Learners and the 21st Century Retrieved from http://video.pbs.org/video/1767377460

Jenkins, H. (2010, March 6). TEDxNYED-Henry Jenkins . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFCLKa0XRlw

Jenkins, H. (2006, June 19). Welcome to convergence culture. Post on The official weblog of Henry Jenkins. http://www.henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html

Kapitzke, C. (2009). Rethinking copyrights for the library through Creative Commons licensing. Library Trends. 58(1), pp. 95-108

Leu, D. et al. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy  55(1), 5-14.

O’Sullivan, K. A. (2012). Books and blogs: Promoting reading achievement in digital contexts. In J. Manuel & S. Brindley (Eds.) Teenagers and reading: Literary heritages, cultural contexts and contemporary reading practices (pp. 191-209). South Australia: Wakefield Press/AATE.

 

The future of being literate – (Therese – Substantial post)

Being able to comprehend text goes beyond books.  It has already happened.  It is not something that can be ignored.  Digital technology is a strong force that if used wisely will enhance educational opportunities.  The essential reading of week 8 from Youth, Popular Culture and Texts by O’Sullivan explores what it means to be literate in the 21st Century.  Also knowing how to deal with the digital medium and teaching students how to reference appropriately from the internet is just one component of being literate.  Valuing the written information from the Internet and referencing the author will alleviate the dilemma illustrated below.

Shinall (2010)

Knowing how to recognise valid information and referencing correctly is just one example of being literate in the 21st Century.  “Communication is public and published” and use of the material using an electronic medium means that your information that you post has the potential to be seen by a “limitless audience” (O’Sullivan, p 192).  Once you place something on the internet, whether it is a website, wiki or blog your information is out, open to the public.  You then trust the public to acknowledge the source.

When you locate information on the internet you also need to have ways of identifying if the material is valid information. Teaching students how to recognise valid information is a necessary component of being literate today.  This takes time and creating a minimum standard, for example locating the author of site, whether it has referenced other information, looking at the date of the information and whether it has been updated are all areas to test validity of the information.

Reading information in a book of English origin is a logical left to right process. You may need to understand how a contents page works or and index to locate information in a book. To be able to read information on the web you need some more skill.  You might have to navigate and search through multiple pages and links to locate what you require.  A blog for example might have multiple posts on different pages.  Hopefully there will be category headings and tags that will assist you in quickly identifying if a post is relevant to what you want to read about.

O’Sullivan (p. 196) gives examples of uses of blogs to provide up to date information that the reader may want to use in another area.  For example information on new books available with online reviews.  I can see the usefulness of using a blog in this way to promote new material in the library. Students may, from the comfort of their classroom or home, view a school library blog and read reviews for new resources or ideas. This may engage students to venture into the library and borrow resources.  Students may also comment on the blog after they have read the material on review in the blog and therefore promote the material to other students.  It’s a way of keeping current with information and informing students and teachers.

The use of pseudonyms on blogs helps maintain confidentiality within the web. O’Sullivan (p. 197) suggests that many teenagers are aware of reasons to maintain privacy and safety on the web.  Something that is important to teach students about is the need to not share personal details with unknown people on the Internet.  This is something that I build into lessons in the library when using the Internet.  Explaining why you keep details to yourself and the digital footprint that you leave as you navigate through web pages.

Something that might engage students is to create a blog that they can comment on.  This might be information about a particular subject that you want students to write about.  Creating something online that the students can collaborate on and discuss is sure to engage most students.  I would like to use a blog with students to enable them to use a different medium to just paper and pencil as assessment with writing.  Learning how to write on a blog will be important for their future learning and employment opportunities.  Moving forward with technology will provide a stronger educational advantage for the students.  The opportunity to write and have the freedom to participate without fear of being wrong is very beneficial (O’Sullivan, p. 200).

Creating blogs and commenting on blog posts allows for creativity of ideas to flow.  To engage with an audience that is interested in the same or similar ideas as yourself.  It is a great forum to use to learn. I feel I have learnt how successful blogs can be with education by using a blog to engage with fellow students.  We are able to comment on each other’s posts and learn more as we go.  I feel much more confident now as I near the end stages of this subject and I feel much more prepared in putting what I have learnt into practice with students in school.

 

References

O’Sullivan, K., (2012). Chapter 12 : Books and Blogs : Promoting Reading Achievement in Digital Contexts in Manuel, Jacqueline and Brindley, Sue, Teenagers and reading : literary heritages, cultural contexts and contemporary reading practices, Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press/ AATE, pp.191-209.

Shinall, A., (2010). Internet facts cartoon. The University of Southern Mississippi http://aubrieannshinall.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/end-of-term-for-my-information-literacy.html Visited site: 21/10/12

 

Accessible or not (Therese)

I visited my local library in person and online to get a feel for similarities and differences between my school library and my local.  I love entering library spaces and comparing with what I know.  What I love about my local library is that it is linked with all the other public libraries in my city via an ecat. I can go online before I enter the library and see if the book or other resource is available to borrow.  This is very different to my school library to a point.  I can use any computer in the school to view the library catalogue but not from home.

I reviewed popular culture texts available at my local library using the ecat to see what was available.  I chose to investigate three authors that I know we do not have within the school library catalogue.  I wanted to see how many resources were held at the local library and where they were held.

Stephanie Meyers (Twilight series), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games series) and Robert Muchamore (The Cherub series) are the three authors I chose to investigate.  I discovered that the local city council library ecat had a variety of all three authors in those series, presented in book (paperback and graphic novel) and audio (either CD or downloaded).  As my school library had none of these I had to think of reasons why they had not been included in our collection.

I teach in a Prep to year 7 school so the upper age of students is approximately 13 years.  With this in mind and the books and authors that I investigated were catalogued under Young Adult (YA) fiction in the main, this is probably one reason why they are not in the school collection.  I completed some hours at a local P-12 college as part of my SPP and discovered that they had all these authors and titles available.  These books were not available to P-year 5 students but they could be borrowed to year 6 and year 7 students with parent permission.  Students in year 8 to year 12 were able to borrow these books.

Another reason that really became a focus this year was budget cuts and curriculum needs.  This year, as opposed to years before, the library budget was able to source resources for enjoyment and not just curriculum.  This year the budget was reduced and most of the budget went on purchasing resources for Curriculum to Classroom (C2C). I am wondering what this means for the future library budget.  I predict though that books aimed at the YA market will not the shelves of the P-7 library in the future given that by 2015 it will be P-6 school with the upper age being 12 years.

Images – Reference

Twilighthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(novel) viewed 22/10/12

Hunger Gameshttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/ viewed 22/10/12

The Cherub Serieshttp://www.fanpop.com/spots/cherub/images/23585514/title/cherub-book-covers-photo viewed 22/10/12