Tag Archives: literacy

Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling Through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality

Reviewed By: Grace Song, Avery Campbell, Anna Johnson, Carla Axume, Millie Jones

Link to article: http://seminar.net/index.php/volume-6-issue-2-2010/154-developing-voice-in-digital-storytelling-through-creativity-narrative-and-multimodality

Synopsis / Summary (article’s core research question)
In this study, Monica Nilsson explores how digital storytelling has the potential to significantly alter the way children develop literacy and creativity, communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and express themselves. Digital storytelling, in this context, is defined as “a multimodal narrative text comprising pictures, music, speech, sound and script.” Nilsson’s research revolves around a nine-year old boy, Simon, who struggles with reading and writing. When given the opportunity to express himself through digital stories, Simon becomes deeply engaged, which Nilsson argues is because digital storytelling became the trigger for his interest in literacy.
In her research, Nilsson explores this core research question: What impact does digital storytelling have on children’s ability not only to master structural writing techniques, but also “communicate experiences, explore new meaning and knowledge, and perform self-representation and self-expression,” and by so doing develop, “real voice” in their writing?

Research Methods Used
In her research, Nilsson analyzes Simon’s digital stories using multimodality and visual analysis. Machin (2007) defines multimodality as a way to express that “the way we communicate is [not done] by by a single mode…” but rather by a combination of visual, sound, and language (p. x). “Multimedial approaches systematically described the range of choices available and how they are used in context… [and] therefore describes the grammar of visual communication” (ibid. p. ix).
For structure in her analysis, Nilsson uses the three basic requirements of semiotic modes of communication: ideational (“states the affairs of the world” – e.g. yellow stands from sunlight or warmth), interpersonal (“represents and communicates the social and affective relationships towards what is being represented” – e.g. yellow stands for happiness), and textual (“about the coherent whole, genres, and how parts are linked together” – e.g. a color for headings to “show they are of the same order”) (Nilsson, 2010, p. 5).

Findings and Conclusion (of the article)
Digital storytelling provides many opportunities to engage students in different multimodal forms of learning, as in the case of Simon, who was effectively able to learn to read and write through digital storytelling. Although literacy is traditionally understood as learning to read and write, Nilsson describes literacy as “drawing conclusions, making associations, and connecting text to reality.”
From this study, Nilsson found that Simon was learning “interpersonal meta-function,” referring to the interaction between producer and receiver, as well as “textual meta-function,” or the linking of parts and their composition. All of this was possible through digital storytelling. Additionally, Nilsson found that Simon’s digital stories were not “randomly assembled images, music, speech, captions and sound,” but rather “consciously, creatively, well reasoned and well crafted composition(s).” Digital storytelling also furthered Simon’s understanding of literacy as a social and cultural activity.
Nilsson concludes that though digital storytelling is a different process for learning to read and write than traditional methods, expressing, creating meaning, and communication still hold the common value of both and provide a significant way of learning that helps overcome learning challenges.

Questions
As our group considers digital storytelling and the ways it supplements education-related research, we have several questions relating to both the article and digital storytelling in general.
One question regards teaching theory. How can digital storytelling be assimilated into school environments, but not forced upon students? Or should it be assimilated in such a way that students need to complete a graded digital storytelling assignment? In today’s education world, there are many thoughts on the different types of learners and standardization. Should digital storytelling be encouraged for those who are interested and naturally more creative, or should it be used to bring out the creativity of those who may not at first be interested?
Another question for consideration is how can digital storytelling be used in libraries? As libraries are constantly changing and adapting to newer technologies and ideas, librarians will need to provide programs and opportunities for patrons that optimize learning and engagement with library resources. How can digital storytelling be a part of this? As many educational researchers are now putting a great emphasis on early literacy, it is pertinent to consider how technology can be a part of digital storytelling in libraries, too?

Final Thoughts / Conclusion
When considering using digital storytelling in schools, but not forcing it on every student, optional or extra credit assignments may be considered. This option may replace traditional assignments for students who have kinesthetic learning styles, or who are simply interested in exploring a new learning method. Conversely, mandatory digital storytelling assignments are intriguing because they could help students unlock untapped creative potential, unrealized through traditional learning methods. Adding a digital storytelling element to school curriculums would help students think and express themselves in new and creative ways.
Digital storytelling can also help children and youth, like Simon, who attend their local library. The library provides another place, as well as additional resources and materials, for children and youth to effectively learn and become literate. As Nilsson’s argues, libraries promote literacy in children and youth by providing them a place to find their voices and connect to the texts they’re creating.

References
Machin, D. (2016). Introduction to multimodal analysis. London: Hodder Arnold. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mwZfDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=%22Introduction+to+Multimodal+Analysis%22+Machin&ots=84X_VkGPpt&sig=WedPbytmGnWOQJfqxOiZPs8CQZE#v=onepage&q=%22Introduction%20to%20Multimodal%20Analysis%22%20Machin&f=false

Nilsson, M. (2010). Developing voice in digital storytelling through creativity, narrative and multimodality. International Journal of Media, technology & Lifelong Learning 6(2). Retrieved from: https://doaj.org/article/17d2a778143742a78fe9f9d517b92e4d

Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourcing Translation Tool

By Molly Sherman, Jared Fair, Nicole Josephson, Dee Ann Huihui

Link to article: http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/9496

Article synopsis and core research question(s):
One of the main questions Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) described in this article was the need for a cost-effective solution to publish books in local languages and dialects using crowdsourcing. OSULP intends to create a tool that will benefit children ages two to five years old, while still allowing older children to benefit as well. OSULP found that children are taught to read later in their lives and in some cases, such as in Busia, are taught Swahili up until about third grade and then are taught in English from then on. With so many dialects, it is difficult to find a tool allowing for many dialects to be available.

This article discusses how to find or create a tool allowing for users, initially in Africa, to vote on the correct dialect of children’s books in order to make them available. With creating a tool such as this there are many aspects that must be considered such as the tools simplicity of its interface and usability, is there the ability to access it offline, what are the screen limitations, how quick can users vote, can users edit the books’ pages to add a new translation, and also the need for a system that takes the highest voted sections and combines them to create a completely translated text. OSULP created their tool in GitLab in order to keep the tool and its beginnings open only to their staff; hoping to later release it through GitHub for others to tailor it to their own needs.

Methods used to answer research questions:
In addressing how to create a tool that allows multilanguage translation in promotion of literacy for children in Africa, the following methods and applications of practice were used. First a network of libraries called Maria’s Libraries came together with OSULP to discuss technologies for consideration in a resource poor environment. It was decided that the testing methods would be delivered by mobile device interactions through a website using the following open source libraries: Wink Toolkit and Globalize3. Language translations were accessed as multiple database entries into an application called Ruby on Rails.

In creating this crowdsourcing platform the goal was to have a gateway tool for enabling users to translate folk tales and existing children’s books into their own languages and dialects. This practice was implemented with a simple interface offering a choice of languages. A username and password approach for users along with icons symbols and a voting process were part of a simple user setup. In order to support the most accurate translations of single languages and dialects, user abilities were set to allow for new dialect identification.
The following items were also included in the method design:
· Tablet Computers for easy interactivity.
· A simple interface utilizing language choices.
· Display carousel of books marked for translation.
· Easy navigation between book pages.
· A User voting process for each translation.
· A User editing process with original translation comparisons.
As part of the methods used, a voter incentive process based on comparison of translations was set as default. The simultaneously experience for users is to see all translations that have been made and be able to make the most accurate choice.

Findings:
As the article assigned to us; Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourced Translation Tool, was not written within a standard format for academic literature and captured only the first phase of an ongoing project, the findings were less formal and more linear than might be expected.
That said, the project explored in this article found that there were three vital parts that presented significant problems and needed to be addressed: administration; additional crowdsourcing and offline functionality.
The administration woes were two fold: 1) the participants were unable to use the interface to upload stories that contained both images and texts, and, 2) the administrators had no ability to override the participants intentions and this fault left them open to “poisoned” or unreliable records.
Additionally, without further crowdsourcing, many users were unable to recommend new languages and dialects for stories or books to be translated into, rendering some of the work inaccessible.
Finally, authors also suggested that without improved offline capabilities the stories and participants work would be greatly diminished.

Conclusion:
The broad, main intent of this project began as an attempt to help literacy in Africa. They discovered that their tool and research were relevant beyond this intent. Indeed, it held exciting potential to do much more; “We are very excited about the possibilities of the usefulness of the platform as a way of publishing books in lesser-known languages or in regions where dialectic publishing is cost prohibitive.”

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address:
After reading this article, there are a few questions that could be addressed. There is the potential to build a database of sub-dialects with this technology. Will the text be available for export after local translation has taken place? If enough members of a community participate in the translation process and if the texts could be exported into a central database, the potential for published works in each sub-dialect increases.

Will the translations move across the geography in a wave, so each new area has the closest possible translation available from neighboring villages? Or will each linguistic geographical area begin with the same base text? The linguistic preferences of each user will be remembered and set as the default when they log in, but once a book is translated into a specific dialect, will the rest of the tablets in the same geographic area automatically set their defaults to that dialect? Can a mother and child share default settings, while maintaining their own accounts?

What are the consequences of exposing sub-dialect communities to the written text of other areas? Could this tool be used to encourage the building of a shared national language? Are there possible negative consequences of this action, such as the diminishment of local dialects? Are there cultural and ethical questions that must be asked before proceeding? Future research could address the cultural shifts that will take place as a result of introducing written texts for early readers in local dialects to areas that have not previously experienced it.

A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions:
The authors’ stated purpose of fostering early literacy in order to prepare children for school success raises the question of how this tool will actually support students entering classes that are not taught in their local language. One possible solution to investigate may be designing the product as a bilingual tool that displays the stories with text in multiple languages simultaneously — for example, in both the learner’s local language and the official language. In addition, the anticipated use of this product in language studies programs leads to the question of how it may be used to facilitate aural learning. In this respect, further development and enhancement to consider may be the integration of programming that allows contributors to upload audio recordings of translations along with text. And finally, considering the product’s potential as a tool to increase literacy, aid in language learning, and enable wider access to multicultural children’s literature, additional research and development is justifiable. Few things are free, however, and one must ask how future R&D is to be funded. Using the tool itself as an example, perhaps the answer lies in crowdsourced funding.

Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourcing Translation Tool

By Kira Painchaud, Molly Sherman, Jared Fair, Nicole Josephsen, and Dee Ann Huihui

Link to article: http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/9496

Article synopsis and core research question(s):
One of the main questions Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) described in this article was the need for a cost-effective solution to publish books in local languages and dialects using crowdsourcing. OSULP intends to create a tool that will benefit children ages two to five years old, while still allowing older children to benefit as well. OSULP found that children are taught to read later in their lives and in some cases, such as in Busia, are taught Swahili up until about third grade and then are taught in English from then on. With so many dialects, it is difficult to find a tool allowing for many dialects to be available.

This article discusses how to find or create a tool allowing for users, initially in Africa, to vote on the correct dialect of children’s books in order to make them available. With creating a tool such as this there are many aspects that must be considered such as the tools simplicity of its interface and usability, is there the ability to access it offline, what are the screen limitations, how quick can users vote, can users edit the books’ pages to add a new translation, and also the need for a system that takes the highest voted sections and combines them to create a completely translated text. OSULP created their tool in GitLab in order to keep the tool and its beginnings open only to their staff; hoping to later release it through GitHub for others to tailor it to their own needs.

Methods used to answer research questions:
In addressing how to create a tool that allows multilanguage translation in promotion of literacy for children in Africa, the following methods and applications of practice were used. First a network of libraries called Maria’s Libraries came together with OSULP to discuss technologies for consideration in a resource poor environment. It was decided that the testing methods would be delivered by mobile device interactions through a website using the following open source libraries: Wink Toolkit and Globalize3. Language translations were accessed as multiple database entries into an application called Ruby on Rails.

In creating this crowdsourcing platform the goal was to have a gateway tool for enabling users to translate folk tales and existing children’s books into their own languages and dialects. This practice was implemented with a simple interface offering a choice of languages. A username and password approach for users along with icons symbols and a voting process were part of a simple user setup. In order to support the most accurate translations of single languages and dialects, user abilities were set to allow for new dialect identification.
The following items were also included in the method design:
· Tablet Computers for easy interactivity.
· A simple interface utilizing language choices.
· Display carousel of books marked for translation.
· Easy navigation between book pages.
· A User voting process for each translation.
· A User editing process with original translation comparisons.
As part of the methods used, a voter incentive process based on comparison of translations was set as default. The simultaneously experience for users is to see all translations that have been made and be able to make the most accurate choice.

Findings:
As the article assigned to us; Using Open Source Tools to Create a Mobile Optimized, Crowdsourced Translation Tool, was not written within a standard format for academic literature and captured only the first phase of an ongoing project, the findings were less formal and more linear than might be expected.
That said, the project explored in this article found that there were three vital parts that presented significant problems and needed to be addressed: administration; additional crowdsourcing and offline functionality.
The administration woes were two fold: 1) the participants were unable to use the interface to upload stories that contained both images and texts, and, 2) the administrators had no ability to override the participants intentions and this fault left them open to “poisoned” or unreliable records.
Additionally, without further crowdsourcing, many users were unable to recommend new languages and dialects for stories or books to be translated into, rendering some of the work inaccessible.
Finally, authors also suggested that without improved offline capabilities the stories and participants work would be greatly diminished.

Conclusion:
The broad, main intent of this project began as an attempt to help literacy in Africa. They discovered that their tool and research were relevant beyond this intent. Indeed, it held exciting potential to do much more; “We are very excited about the possibilities of the usefulness of the platform as a way of publishing books in lesser-known languages or in regions where dialectic publishing is cost prohibitive.”

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address:
After reading this article, there are a few questions that could be addressed. There is the potential to build a database of sub-dialects with this technology. Will the text be available for export after local translation has taken place? If enough members of a community participate in the translation process and if the texts could be exported into a central database, the potential for published works in each sub-dialect increases.

Will the translations move across the geography in a wave, so each new area has the closest possible translation available from neighboring villages? Or will each linguistic geographical area begin with the same base text? The linguistic preferences of each user will be remembered and set as the default when they log in, but once a book is translated into a specific dialect, will the rest of the tablets in the same geographic area automatically set their defaults to that dialect? Can a mother and child share default settings, while maintaining their own accounts?

What are the consequences of exposing sub-dialect communities to the written text of other areas? Could this tool be used to encourage the building of a shared national language? Are there possible negative consequences of this action, such as the diminishment of local dialects? Are there cultural and ethical questions that must be asked before proceeding? Future research could address the cultural shifts that will take place as a result of introducing written texts for early readers in local dialects to areas that have not previously experienced it.

A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions:
The authors’ stated purpose of fostering early literacy in order to prepare children for school success raises the question of how this tool will actually support students entering classes that are not taught in their local language. One possible solution to investigate may be designing the product as a bilingual tool that displays the stories with text in multiple languages simultaneously — for example, in both the learner’s local language and the official language. In addition, the anticipated use of this product in language studies programs leads to the question of how it may be used to facilitate aural learning. In this respect, further development and enhancement to consider may be the integration of programming that allows contributors to upload audio recordings of translations along with text. And finally, considering the product’s potential as a tool to increase literacy, aid in language learning, and enable wider access to multicultural children’s literature, additional research and development is justifiable. Few things are free, however, and one must ask how future R&D is to be funded. Using the tool itself as an example, perhaps the answer lies in crowdsourced funding.

The language of Webkinz: Early childhood literacy in an online virtual world.

By Christie Cho, Kate Cochrane, Kenneth Lewin, Karen Reuter

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/volume-2/the-language-of-webkinz-early-childhood-literacy-in-an-online-virtual-world/

Black, R. W. (2010). The language of Webkinz: Early childhood literacy in an online virtual world. Digital Culture & Education, 2:1, 7-24.
http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/volume-2/the-language-of-webkinz-early-childhood-literacy-in-an-online-virtual-world/

Introduction:

With the abundance of technological advancements our increasingly digital world is enjoying, new types of virtual worlds are being used for learning in innovative ways. “Shared virtual environments (SVEs) offer particularly compelling examples of the new forms of learning, literacy, and social developments that youth are engaging with online” (Black, 7). Although research efforts exploring the relationship between virtual worlds and knowledge acquisition abound, there is a gap in our understanding of the effect of virtual worlds on children’s learning. Rebecca Black’s article seeks to address this gap in research by offering a case study of Webkinz World (http://www.webkinz.com). Webkinz World is a highly popular SVE targeting children ages 6–13 and attracts roughly 3 million users annually. Using data from participant observation and a qualitative content analysis of the Webkinz World SVE, Black is able to create a map of the site’s contents and help us better understand how users navigate, communicate, and play within this virtual environment.

Methodology:

This study used a qualitative analysis of the the WebKinz website as a starting point for a future qualitative analysis of multiple Share Virtual Environments (SVEs). The analysis focused on mapping the contents of the Webkinz website while also evaluating both the design of the site and its literacy-related features. At the time of the study, the authors had not yet evaluated other SVEs for comparison or for further analysis of the technological and literacy-related features.

Findings:

​The author finds that the Webkinz virtual world inconsistently applies principles of pedagogical design appropriate for the interested demographic. For instance, using vocabulary and content retention speed for an appropriate age level varies from video to video, and even within videos. The author submits that this is somewhat ameliorated by affordances such as characters glancing or gesturing at referenced icons, and printed text appearing along with spoken words, but might suggest a need for developer attention.
The author also makes note of the consumer-centric ethos that pervades the world, specifically mentioning the acquisition of material goods equating to caring for one’s pet. Black asserts that this attitude will have a (negative) impact on impressionable young users’ cultural conceptions. In a similar vein, the author argues that educational potential of this virtual world is squandered by “rampant in-game self-advertising” (Black, 2010, p. 20). The theme of the user being a passive onlooker (reminiscent of dated pedagogical beliefs), rather than an active creative participant in the virtual world, is also expressed. Black references Lankshear & Knobel in this regard, who refer to such passive interaction as “bookspace,” implying a pre-approved interaction with surroundings that stifles creativity and active learning.​

Questions and Directions for Further Research:

Though the Webkinz World site appears on the surface to be replete with new literacies technologies, these technologies, instead of following a true new literacies approach, are used for knowledge acquisition based on conventional forms of learning. Learning and collaboration opportunities using the chat functions are severely limited by the dictionary of words to which children are limited. Though internet safety may dictate these constraints since there are not many ways to ensure safe interaction for young children on the internet, the current messaging system and vocabulary were formulated by adults working in a corporate context who may not understand the interests and values of the young players (Black, R. W., 2010). Increasing the dictionary of available words may also help children communicate more freely while maintaining safety.

Another avenue for exploration may be to assess the impact on learning for children using the free options only vs. children who can pay for the deluxe membership. Questions that may be explored through such a study might include:
–Do socioeconomic status differences impact online learning through sites such as these the same way that they do in schools in many communities?
–Do the limitations to collaboration and static content keep learning differences to a minimum?
The author mentions that ancillary fan sites, not those run by corporations, offer many more opportunities for collaborative, networked learning and interaction that is associated with new literacies (Black 2010). It would be interesting to explore the differences between corporate run sites for children and ancillary fan sites to see how new literacies are used on the different types of sites.

Digital Curation and Education

By Carla Axume, Adrienne Domasin, Mia Faulk, Kai Forsley, and Heather Poundstone

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dce1028_black_2010.pdf

Digital Curation and Education
Black, R. (2010) The language of Webkinz: Early childhood literacy in an online virtual world. University of California, Irvine. Online Publication 31 May 2010.

A- Article synopsis and core research question(s)- Adrienne
In this article the author intends to fill a gap in the research on virtual worlds intended for early childhood populations. Using the popular and frequently visited virtual space Webkinz World as a case study, Rebecca Black analyzes the content in the Webkinz World in an effort to determine the viability of the content as it pertains to language development and childhood literacy, as well as whether the content is appropriate for the learning processes among the intended age groups. Black concluded that the design of Webkinz World is limited in its learning outcomes and literacy learning initiatives due to its profit-driven nature and Internet security safeguards both of which inhibit language development. Black also indicates that the socio-cultural messages promoted within the Webkinz World necessitate a thorough examination because the life lessons promoted in the interface do not engage the daily learning and development of children in a realistic manner. Black seeks to demonstrate the shortcomings of the Webkinz World site in order to inform parents of children interacting in this virtual world of the literacies that are actually being used versus those that are marketed by Webkinz World. The author also seeks to inform educators and literacy researchers of any attitudinal shifts from children interacting in these virtual spaces and their learning behavior in the classroom environment.

B- Methods used to answer research question(s)-Carla
The method employed in this case study approach is based on data gathered from participant observations and a qualitative content analysis. Part of this analysis also deals with a cross case analysis of the literacy and developmental features of several Shared Virtual Environments focusing on early childhood populations. Black was able to gather data by creating a map of the site content and gathering information from the rules, frequently asked questions, tutorials, activities, and the collection of artifacts. From this point, the content analysis was conducted using open ended, qualitative protocol, and literacy related artifacts of the site. The participant observations were aimed at gaining a sense of navigation, communication, and gameplay in the Shared Virtual Environment. Part of the analysis included a game called Webkinz, which are stuffed animals that come with a unique code in order for the player to have access to Webkinz world in the SVE. Here children are able to participate by purchasing items to furnish their pets room, food, toys and clothes. Overall, the online multimodal format of the site provides children with access to new literacy providing language development, social meanings, values and life lessons.

C- Findings and conclusions- Kai
With any new type of literacy, there will be learning curves. Within Shared Virtual Environments (SVE), there are many opportunities to engage the spatial abilities of visitors to the site. Rebecca Black praises the prospect of SVEs being useful communication tools. Specifically looking at online platforms, like Webkinz World, there are some concerns. First, there are benefits including gaining hands-on computer technology experiences in terms of learning how to navigate an online environment and navigating the computer’s hard and software. However the content and interactions with the content seems to be of concern. There are blatant consumerist practices and direct marketing to youth. The term “immersive advertising” is used to describe the constant bombardment of advertising mechanisms to the user. Within Webkinz World, there seems to be a specified correlation between well-being in the virtual world and actual financial expenditures, which Black believes does not activate the best use of a literacy tool effectively. Black seems to conclude that while many positive attributes can be extracted from the model of SVEs like Webkinz World, the overall execution of this one may not be in the best interest of the user. The positives include direct learning in terms grammar, reading and as well as other traditional literacies, as well as contextualized learning that happens as you traverse the scenarios in the game. Nevertheless, Black believes that corporate develops, not educators, are creating content for SVE tools such as Webkinz. This divergence between “useful tool” and “tainted content” seems to be apparent in Webkinz World. She also concludes that the digital literacies employed within SVEs should be actual digital literacies and not simply traditional literacies captured in digital format, thus providing the user with an optimal learning experience.

D-Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address-Mia
More research is needed on, “…how children’s activities, relationships, and immediate social and cultural contexts affect their learning and development” (Black, 8). Today’s young students are operating in a cyberspatial-postindustrial mindset, so:
What will these students need most to be successful within these spaces?
How do adults set about understanding the “social and cultural contexts of these spaces, as well as the tensions between new and traditional literacies as they shape, influence, and even curtail children’s learning” (Black, 9)?
Are these commercialized spaces, with marketing messages, detrimental to kids?
Have we entered a dimension of A Brave New World where children are being conditioned to think within prescribed limits?
Is this a coercive quasi dictatorship, telling kids what they should think vs. allowing them to create and think freely? “While there are ample opportunities for early readers and writers to be immersed in contextualized print, there are far fewer opportunities for early readers and writers to engage deeply with literacy materials and develop expressive language skills” (Black, 14).
Future research should address how to create the best online learning environment for young children that is much more robust, interactive, and engaging, rather than reverting to traditional literacy methods.

E- A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions- Heather
Students will need several things to be able to successfully navigate sites such as Webkinz, the most important being literacy and technology skills. Online tutorials would be helpful to guide students through the various components of the site. Adults must understand the importance of new literacies and their importance in children’s literacy development. They must engage in sites like Webkinz in order to understand how to support students. Sites like Webkinz should exercise caution with the marketing messages they allow so that children are protected. For instance, advertisements that promote junk food should not be allowed. There should be a minimum amount of marketing for the children who have already purchased the stuffed animal. There could be an option to allow children access to the site without purchasing the animal. Webkinz does somewhat condition children to think within prescribed limits due to the safety measures in place that do not allow students to creatively add their own dialogue. This site could expand on its creative aspect by allowing students to create their own animals, attributes, stories, videos, etc. in order to allow them to think and explore freely.

Tags- Webkinz, childhood literacy, virtual worlds, literacy, early childhood, language development, children, social network, learn, play, digital literacy, new literacies, Webkinz World, Shared virtual environments, SVE, SVEs, direct instruction, online gaming, consumerism, digital learning, internet safety, child development

“In Our Own Words”: Creating Videos as Teaching and Learning Tools

https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/2007#.Vip–X6rSHs

Technology has enabled filmmakers to create ‘in-house’ videos, and post them online for the critical mass of viewers who regularly consume videos online – mostly for entertainment, but increasingly for education and learning. In academic settings, few libraries have created their own teaching/learning tools, beyond screen casting videos.
However, in Summer-2010, two York University librarians, Norda Majekodunmi and Kent Murnaghan, created an instructional video series called, “Learning: In Our Own Words.” The goals of these videos are to: (i) trace “real” experience of new students and their literacies skills (research, writing and learning) during their first year of college; and, (ii) create instructional videos for librarians/instructors to engage students in critical thinking/discussion.
This article outlines the authors’ experiences in creating those videos and accompanying teaching guides, and screening them in a classroom setting. They discuss lessons learned, so that more libraries will develop their own teaching/learning videos.
The approach of Majekodunmi and Murnaghan is student-centered. The main project principles focus on the “student voice,” and that the students “should be considered experts in their own right” (p. 3). Students are asked to share about their previous experiences influencing their understanding of how to engage in research.

The authors researched literature on planning and production of teaching videos and methodologies, but found little material relevant to their project. What they did find was Paivi Karppinen’s review of theoretical literature, and as a key part of their methodology, they worked to create videos that embodied his six characteristics of meaningful learning. That is, the videos were: active; constructive and individual; collaborative and conversational; contextual; guided; and, emotionally involving/motivating. They chose these criteria as benchmarks for their end product, and for assurance that they would succeed in creating a successful teaching/learning video.
The authors here discuss technicalities required to produce videos, such as interview timeframes, scheduling and location, as well as post-production team staffing, and budgeting.
The paper’s core research questions are:
1. Can information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format lead to in-depth learning?
— According to the authors, citing Karppinen, information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format will not automatically lead to in-depth learning. However, Karppinen goes on to state that, based on his review of the theoretical literature, a toolkit of meaningful learning embodies 6 characteristics. (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 3, citing Karppinen, p. 235).

2. Do videos support active learning on their own?
— No. The authors make clear that preparation is key to successfully teaching with videos, which can be used effectively if paired with such relevant learning activities as student self-reflection, one-minute response papers, hands-on searching, and group activities (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 8). It also is essential to contextualize the video: (a) Why are the students are watching the video?, and, (b) What are the expectations that follow — what activities would occur after viewing the video? (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 10).

3. Can student-centered videos, with integrated teaching guides enhance academic learning by speaking to students in their own voices, with students as “experts”?
— Yes. Because the videos are student-centered, viewers are likely to feel a personal connection to their peers in the video — more so than if a librarian or instructor were talking to them. Also, online videos as a medium appeal to most first-year students (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 9).

The authors conclude with a brief summary of findings that closely align with new literacies initiatives in academic settings.
Due to the lengthy filming and video production process, they propose that similar projects in the future include sufficient preparation for each production stage, with flexible timelines occurring during a less busy time of year.
The researchers also conclude that “videos do not support active learning on their own, but they can be used effectively if paired with relevant learning activities” (p. 10).
When surveyed, 78% of participating students reported that they appreciated the exposure to other students’ experiences, and another 78% agreed that the videos were engaging. Student levels of engagement were reported to have increased when the videos were appropriately introduced and contextualized, when expectations and subsequent activities were discussed, and when students were encouraged to decide whether or not they personally agreed with the messages in the videos.
The authors also explain the value of instructors as facilitators instead of traditional lecturers. They conclude that librarians must continue to consider the “academic world” from the unique perspectives of students in order to improve instruction and develop meaningful learning tools. A project such as this one “speaks to students in their own voices, positions the students themselves as “experts,” and works toward transforming the student experience” (p. 11), and they would like to see the videos used in a wider variety of courses and classroom contexts (p. 10).

The central premise of this video project involves “students as experts, instructors as facilitators” (p. 10-11). The article describing Majekodunmi and Murnaghan’s project shows that by creating student-centric videos, instructors are able to design a better learning tool.
In the future, it would be great if incoming students were regularly interviewed with questions similar to those asked in this project, even when filming is not available. Then, instructors would be able to use the interview results as baseline data to update the curriculum from the students’ standpoint.
Using these videos interviews in the classroom allows instructors to engage with students more actively (p. 10). Within teaching guides, the constructive and individual process is a key methodology (p. 8).

In the future, what other kinds of ways can instructors help students construct their academic progress? Instructors should keep an open mind as to emerging literacies because there are always new ways to communicate through technology.

References

Karppinen, Paivi. “Meaningful Learning with Digital and Online Videos: Theoretical Perspectives.” AACE Journal, 13.3 (2005): 233-250. Web. 20 Aug. 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.editlib.org/d/6021
Majekodunmi, Norda and Kent Murnaghan. “Learning: In Our Own Words.” Web. 20 August 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/learning-commons/2011/11/08/learning-video-series/