Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blog Task #1 - state of current knowledge

Blog Task #1

Using your readings and interaction with the subject to date, develop a statement about your current knowledge and understanding of concepts and practices in digital literature environments, tools and uses, within the context of your work or professional circumstances.
In this post I would like to reflect on a starting point of my knowledge and understanding (or lack thereof) about digital literature.  Reading and literature has an impact on my life - in my roles as a parent, a librarian, an educator and a reader and learner.
When embarking on this course, I considered what was meant by digital literature.  The first part – “digital” is possibly the easiest and most intuitive, as it speaks of the medium.  To answer this, various categories or types of digital formats or reading environments have been suggested, including e-books and e-readers (Doiron, 2011), e-stories for early readers, linear e-narratives, e-narratives and interactive story contexts, hypertext narratives, hypermedia narratives and electronic game narratives (Unsworth, 2006 cited in Walsh, 2013) or e-books, interactive storybooks, reference databases, hypertext and interactive fiction, and transmedia storytelling (Lamb, 2011).
In its definition of “E-lit”, the Electronic Literature Organization, emphasizes the literary aspect of Digital Literature (Electronic Literature Organization, n.d.), while James and de Kock ask about the role of the digital format in fiction (James & de Kock, 2013) -  this appears to be the exception.  Many other authors in the field appear to focus on the literacy aspect, and write about literacy and reading (Doiron, 2011; Edwards, 2013; Foley, 2012; Leu et al., 2011; Levy, 2009; Unsworth, 2008; Yokota & Teale, 2014),  e-learning (Walker, Jameson, & Ryan, 2010), and story-telling (Alexander, 2011; Malita & Martin, 2010; Yokota & Teale, 2014).
Just like there is endless pedantic discussion on the definitions, nuances and overlap between information, knowledge and wisdom, so too is there a blurring of the lines between what is meant by literature and at what point fiction, narrative text, novels, and storytelling becomes literature. I’ve noticed a presumption on the one hand that “literature” is the highest form, but on the other that “any reading is good” because parents, teachers and librarians want to “hook” children on reading.
I think where some of the confusion arises, is that like in my own family and with my own students, each individual is somewhere on the literacy / literary continuum – from beginning reader to being capable of a deep understanding and analysis of complex literature, and somewhere on the digital participation continuum –consumption, communication, collaboration and creation. In this course we are overlapping the two, and this coincidence can occur at so many different points we need to be able to cater for all alternatives and permutations.  We would be doing any learner a disservice if we did not meet them where they are and find a way guide them further.
It is an interesting process. I have one child who is fully engaged digitally and where I often bemoan him not sitting down with a book, and him retorting that I have no idea how much reading he’s doing each day, but that it’s just not in the traditional form.  I have another who prefers to be curled up with a book, if at all possible, an old musty edition of a “classic” from my youth, and who I continually have to remind of the treasures in information augmentation and enhancement that is available digitally.   I straddle the two, preferring some text digitally, and some in print.
So after the first few weeks of this course I think perhaps the name of the course is a slight misnomer, but that as other contenders – such as digital literacy – have their own meaning and body of research, I’m happy to ride with it and keep it as broad and all encompassing as it is.


Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations (Chapter 1). In The new digital storytelling: creating narratives with new media (pp. 3–15). Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
Doiron, R. (2011). Using E-Books and E-Readers to Promote Reading in School Libraries: Lessons from the Field. In Student access to new and emerging technologies. Puerto Rico.
Edwards, J. T. (2013). Reading Beyond the Borders: Observations on Digital eBook Readers and Adolescent Reading Practices. In J. Whittingham, S. Huffman, W. Rickman, & C. Wiedmaier (Eds.), Technological Tools for the Literacy Classroom: (pp. 135–158). IGI Global. Retrieved from
Electronic Literature Organization. (n.d.). What is E-Lit? Retrieved August 13, 2014, from
Foley, C. (2012). Ebooks for leisure and learning. Scan31, 6–14. Retrieved from
James, R., & de Kock, L. (2013). The Digital David and the Gutenberg Goliath: The Rise of the “Enhanced” e-book. English Academy Review30(1), 107–123. doi:10.1080/10131752.2013.783394
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology39(3), 12–17. Retrieved from login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Leu, D. J., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., … Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy55(1), 5–14. doi:10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1
Levy, R. (2009). “You have to understand the words...but not read them”: young children becoming readers in a digital age. Journal of Research in Reading32(1), 75–91. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.01382.x
Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences2(2), 3060–3064. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.465
Unsworth, L. (2008). Multiliteracies, E-literature and English Teaching. Language and Education22(1), 62–75. doi:10.2167/le726.0
Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture (Ch. 15). In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp. 212–224). New York, NY: Routledge.
Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181–194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).
Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture Books and the Digital World: Educators Making Informed Choices. The Reading Teacher67(8), 577–585. doi:10.1002/trtr.1262