Use of digital literature in the classroom can definitely be challenging in terms of access to technology and digital information for staff and students who are up against firewalls, restrictions and resourcing constraints. With time and increased investment in the power of digital tools, hopefully many schools will see a shift in this area and be better equipped to open up those lines of information.
I really loved hearing the insights from a range of professionals and experts in the field of digital technology and learning in the “Learning 2030: From books and screen” panel discussion. The enablers, barriers and possibilities explored during this discussion were interesting to hear. One reoccurring point was the need for teachers to be upskilled – for some sort of professional development to occur when implementing new ways of working with technology in the classroom (The Agenda with Steve Paikin, 2013). I see this need daily. Some teachers are very fearful of using technology because they feel they will lose control of the classroom; whether that be in terms of behaviour management and control of what the students are accessing or control of the teaching because it becomes more student driven. Some teachers are just unfamiliar with the devices or adverse to change due to the constant changing nature of the profession. There must be substantial investment, sector-wide, in developing teachers’ skills and confidence in using digital mediums as effective teaching tools.
I discovered a great article (New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad) that covers many of the opportunities and challenges of using digital tools in the classroom. Ultimately, to get the most of digital tools (including digital literature) we need to integrate it into the curriculum not simply use it as a substitute for our current ways of teaching and learning. The study found that the use of iPads in the classroom didn’t just have impacts on engagement and learning but had flow-on effects for students on a social level, where peers changed how they perceived each other according to their digital interactions and digital behaviours (Flewitt, Messer, and Kucirkova, 2015).
Another great read, which I’m still trying to get my hands on (can’t seem to access the full article), is Hypertext, Hypermedia by Raine Koskimaa. It sounds like it would be an excellent resource that looks at highly interactive digital literature and its different forms. Koskimaa’s early work The challenge of cybertext: teaching literature in the digital world, even though now 10 years old, highlights some important and still relevant points about teaching literacy through these new and emerging modes. Koskimaa suggests that we should acknowledge the challenges that digital literature may bring to teaching but ultimately, we need to embrace these changes and look at the potential for growth that is on offer.
Flewitt, R., Messer, D., & Kucirkova, N. (2015). New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(3), 289-310. doi: 10.1177/1468798414533560
Koskimaa, R. (2007). The challenge of cybertext: teaching literature in the digital world. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 6(2), 169-185. doi: 10.1177/1474022207076826
The Agenda with Steve Paikin. (2013, October 4). Learning 2030: From Books to Screen [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=215NPpHsQPk&feature=youtu.be