PLAYBACK: Literature “Born Digital”
12.13.10 | Digital novels; Google’s new e-book store; why we need librarians now more than ever; online learning during snow days; and how games can help you write your next term paper.
Inanimate Alice—More Than Just a Creative Response to Literacy
Writing at GETideas.org, Laura Flemming, a library media specialist from River Edge N.J., describes her experiences using the multimedia book “Inanimate Alice” in the classroom. Published by the BradField Company, the book uses text, sound, images and games to tell the story of Alice and her imaginary digital friend Brad.
Spotlight recently featured Flemming in our story on the future of the book. Flemming says Alice is important because it has not been adapted from another medium, but was “conceived, written and created entirely within the digital domain.”
As our cultural relationship with text shifts to include more complex multilayered forms of literacy, Flemming argues educators need to figure out how to use these new storytelling forms in the classroom.
Digital novels can help our students be connected to, engaged with, and increase their ability to make meaning from, text. As educators, we have a responsibility to embrace innovative reading forms and recognize that they are increasingly critical pedagogical tools. More than just a creative approach to literacy, electronic, multimedia, and transmedia texts should now be recognized as an essential part of literacy teaching and learning.
“Inanimate Alice” was written by Kate Pullinger, a writer and researcher in creative writing and new media at De Montfort University in the UK where she co-founded the Transliteracy Research Group. Writing on her website, Pullinger says of transliteracy that “as more people, from more fields, find the concept useful in their own work, the definition is growing and changing.”
You can watch all the episodes of “Inanimate Alice” here. But be warned, you just might get hooked. As one young reader said:
“After [the first episode] I was burning with curiosity to see and read the other episodes in the series. … Inanimate Alice is heart-pounding, exciting, and adventurous and I enjoyed them. You should watch Inanimate Alice, NOW.”
Largest E-Book Collection in the World? Google made its long-awaited jump into the e-book market last week. With more than three million available titles by authors from Jonathan Franzen to Charles Dickens, Google claims to have the largest e-book collection in the world. Browse the collection here. There’s also a large selection of books available for mobile devices or e-readers, with the exception of Amazon’s Kindle. And kudos to Google for working with the independent booksellers.
Why We Still Need Teacher Librarians: We loved this profile in the Christian Science Monitor last week of Cynthia Dobrez, a librarian in Michigan who’s winning awards for combining new technologies and librarian intuition to hook middle school students on books. Dobrez, who thinks e-books can be used to attract reluctant readers, told the Monitor she uses everything from “MP3 audio books to scavenger hunts to ‘Stump the Librarian,’ in which kids who don’t like to read dare her to find them a book.”
“A school librarian today,” writes the Monitor’s Yvonne Zipp. “is a guide to finding information, an ethicist on everything from plagiarism to cyberbullying, an adviser, a teacher, and, in Dobrez’s case, a dispenser of ‘bibliotherapy’ – matching the right book with the right kid.” Dobrez says she hasn’t been stumped in 20 years.
Plus, Bookworms Use Social Media: If you’re in the library, use Foursquare. The location-based social networking tool just unveiled a book badge to the delight of social networking bibliophiles who’ve been lobbying to get rewarded for their visits to libraries and bookstores the same way users who check into bars and airports do. Users who unlock the badge, see a text that reads: “You Nerd!”
Game That Research Paper with Bibliobouts: It’s finals time at universities across the county and if a group of researchers at the University of Michigan School of Information have anything to say about it, undergraduate students there will soon be spending a lot more time gaming.
Tis the Season for Online Learning: Snow days! The love of every student, the frustration of educators. This year, though, some school districts are getting creative in ensuring their kids don’t fall too far behind because of frequent snow days by using social media. Ewan McIntosh in a blog post entitled “What makes an online community explode during snow days?” offers several important lessons in creating a successful online hub to keep kids engaged on their days off. McIntosh helped create eduBuzz.org in East Lothian, Scotland and is working on a national effort there to engage teachers online.
The idea, he writes, “is to provide a hub for the relationships of the individuals within each classroom and each school. … It’s not about being there to suck down content or to pick up homework that teachers have dropped off for you. It’s about seeing your mates.”
His idea seems to be working. “25,000 visits a day, 1827 posts and 2477 comments were left throughout the three or four days of closed school this week on eduBuzz.org,” McIntosh writes. The site works, he says, because it’s “a place where people choose to go.” They also created a familiar “wall” like that on Facebook ” and in designing the space, they kept two audiences of teachers and students in mind.
McIntosh argues for making access as easy as possible with easy-to-remember URLS and limited or no password protection. The space should feel like an “online microcosm of that one kid’s classroom, where the teacher has curated materials and resources and the students make up the vast majority of discussion, more often than not leading it.”
And congratulations to McIntosh. He and his wife are also celebrating the birth of their daughter … on his blog. Where else?
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