YouTube: Lizzie Bennet and the Library

YouTube was barely a year old when Teresa Rizzo’s article, YouTube: The Cinema of Attractions, was written. It went live in February 2005 (Walker, 2012) and it is constantly changing, with 72 hours of video uploaded every minute (Walker, 2012), up from 48 hours earlier this year (Marwick, 2012). For someone who had never seen or heard of YouTube, the article does a credible job of explaining memes (though they weren’t called that at the time), typical clips, and the tendency to create new media from existing material. (Rizzo, 2008, p.5) YouTube is so ubiquitous now, it’s hard to imagine the internet without it.

The article equates the characteristics of vlogs (video blogs) and YouTube clips with those of the cinema of attractions:  the exhibitionist tendency, exoticism, public performance, remediation, and a blurred line between public and private spheres (Rizzo, 2008). Cinema of Attractions also makes the point that the medium of cinema is not new, and that is true – YouTube is essentially a storytelling medium.

What has changed is the creators of “cinema.” Anyone with a camera and an internet connection can create and upload content to video-sharing sites like YouTube. Viewers can choose to watch anonymously, or sign in to get the full experience of ‘liking’ videos, commenting, creating playlists and – if they choose – uploading content to their channel.

YouTube Success Stories

Tiffany Alvord

Tiffany Alvord – This is Just the Start
Screen grab from YouTube

YouTube sensation Tiffany Alvord recently reached one million subscribers, and she celebrated by writing a thank-you song for her fans. She is well aware that her subscribers have made her amazing journey possible, because, in her words: “Started with a Kodak in my room, but now I’m HD with an 8x zoom.” – Tiffany Alvord, This is Just the Start

A creative group of writers, actors, and producers have taken the bold step of retelling Pride and Prejudice via YouTube. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern adaptation in serial form, uses the video sharing site as its home base. What makes this retelling remarkable? It’s a “consistent fictional world,” as described by Gunning (1994, as quoted in Rizzo, 2008). The characters do not simply exist on the dedicated YouTube channel. The writers have created Twitter accounts, Pinterest boards, Facebook pages, a Lookbook and a Tumblr – all of which are “run” by the characters, and enable fans to interact with them between episodes.

LizzieBennet ep 1: It is a Truth T-shirt

LizzieBennet ep 1: It is a Truth T-shirt
Screen grab from YouTube

“How do you tell a classic story rooted in a specific culture and time period and not only modernize it, but retell it in a format that’s barely six years old while building immersive/interactive elements across different platforms? It’s an amazing challenge, and I love it.”
– Bernie Su, co-creator
(The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Press Release)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has created a viable piece of pop culture by bringing together engagement opportunities with their audience across a slew of channels, and on-demand viewing. It’s possible that Jane Austen fans make up the bulk of their audience, but then again, some of the YouTube comments indicate that viewers are slow to catch on to the source material. If that is true, Austen is being introduced through digital media.

Implications of Screen Culture and YouTube for Libraries

If the library has the space and resources, it would be possible to hold an ongoing program where other classic (or popular) novels are written, acted, and serialised for YouTube. Libraries can use the popularity of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in a multitude of ways, such as:

  • Austen-themed teen events
  • YouTube content creation workshops
  • A discussion group that compares the book to the online series

Technical challenges can bury a library workshop. Flaky wifi, audio/video issues, the number of available computers… BYO laptop can’t always solve these problems because staff may need to help patrons with unfamiliar software. Training youth to use  online tools has added challenges: online safety, content filtering and safe searches, and age-appropriate content.

On the positive side, technology and media workshops for youth are popular programs at the library. They’re current, they encourage digital literacy, and they provide access for those who don’t have laptops or fancy software at home. Brisbane City Council runs Visible Ink, a youth program with events and spaces for learning and play. Computers and rehearsal spaces are just a few of the resources available. (Brisbane City Council)

With equitable access, encouragement, and the opportunity to become digitally literate, library patrons could learn to create their own videos and build a subscriber base. YouTube is a great sandbox for creative youth. There are so many teaching and learning opportunities that could be supported by the library and digital cultural centres like Brisbane’s The Edge. Technical skills and confidence behind (or in front of) a camera don’t come naturally, but they can grow.

Recommended Readings

As an essential reading for CLN647, I think Teresa Rizzo’s YouTube: The Cinema of Attractions article misses the mark. It does provide library and education students with food for thought, but it is outdated and too narrow in focus. The author leans heavily on Gunning’s works – admittedly, five of them – and the literature is from 2006 and earlier.

I searched for other texts that might be more current than Rizzo and would provide a more balanced view of YouTube and screen cultures. Here are two recommended readings:

Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning by Margaret C. Hagood, Donna E. Alvermann, and Alison Heron-Hruby (2010, Teachers College Press)

Hagood is Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the College of Charleston, where she directs research of the Center for the Advancement of New Literacies. According to the book description, Bring it to Class features “a strong theoretical grounding and many practical examples, the authors speak to both skeptical instructors who favour traditional canonical literature and to technology enthusiasts who already use popular music or video in their classrooms.” (Google Books, n.d.)

Reading YouTube: The Critical Viewers Guide by Anandam Karoori (2011, Peter Lang Publishing)

Karoori is Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The book “develops a conceptual language for students to use as they engage with the complex, interactive texts of YouTube and digital culture more generally.” (Amazon, n.d.)



Alvord, T. (2012, October 8). This is Just the Start. [Video file]. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from

Boyd, B. (2012, April 19). Literacy and the New Media Landscape. [Web log post]. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from

Brisbane City Council. (2012). Youth Programs. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from

Google Books. (n.d.) Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning. Retrieved October 25, 2012 from

Marwick, A. (2012). Reading YouTube: The Critical Viewers Guide. New Media & Society, 14(5), 888. [Excerpt]. Retrieved from

Rizzo, T. (2008). You Tube: The Cinema of Attractions. SCAN Journal of Media Arts Culture 5(1), 1-6.  Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (n.d.). Press Release. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (2012). The Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube Channel.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (2012, April 9). My Name is Lizzie Bennet – Ep. 1. [Screen grab].

Walker, R. (2012, June 28). On YouTube, Amateur is the New Pro. Retrieved October 25, 2012 from


Manga and Digital Literacy in Schools

The National Year of Reading is still going strong in Australia, and on October 24, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an event. Crossing Boundaries with Reading is a literacy program at a Queensland high school.

The program is funded by QUT with an Engagement Innovation Grant, and Logan City Libraries are partners of the program. It’s a collaborative effort that brings educators and librarians together with pop culture to teach digital literacy. The official site features a student-drawn logo and news on the program. Here’s a snippet from the project’s About page:

Drawing on the popularity of digital technologies and Manga in youth culture, the project will enable Year 8 and 9 students to cross boundaries with reading in various ways designed to engage their interest and learning. Boundaries will be understood as spaces of opportunity rather than limitation.

Digital literacy isn’t something that “born digital” teens automatically have. Some students don’t have equal access to technology at home or school, and many haven’t learned how to use digital tools to create content. The project aims to promote reading, equip youth with digital literacy skills, and explore manga and digital storytelling as a way of “crossing boundaries” with reading.

Crossing Boundaries students

Students drawing manga and learning digital literacy skills

The students split into five groups and cycled through the activities scheduled for the morning. QUT lecturer and information literacy researcher Mandy Lupton and Dr Anna Lundh, a researcher and teacher at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the University of Borås (SSLIS), staffed the Blender room. I helped with the workshop, where students worked collaboratively on TV-sized PC screens. There was also the option to draw with coloured pencils. Some of the students are really gifted – they just sat there quietly, and all of a sudden, they’d show you a piece of art.

The PC screens were connected to the Internet, with different word games at each station. Students rotated between tables every ten minutes. Magnetic Poetry and Free Rice were the favourites, and there was some definite competition going on! At least 2500 grains of rice were donated to the World Food Programme. Because of its popularity with students and the bonus of charitable donations, the school will consider using Free Rice in the classroom.

The event concluded with a combined session and two short presentations. Dr Hilary Hughes of QUT spoke about manga, and Mimi Tsai shared examples of digital stories. It was a great day, and I hope to apply concepts I learned today in future digital literacy programs.

Major Post Two: A Cultural Ecology for Mobile Learning

From     ets2.png


As a Masters student in library and information science, I imagine my future career will be defined by technology. I know that my job as a librarian will involve applications, software and hardware and the various ways to use them to achieve the ultimate enjoyment and satisfaction for the user. Providing users with the necessary tools to develop skills and knowledge and to ensure that the library remains an engaging and dynamic place for users will definitely be one of my priorities. Unfortunately, it seems that mobile technology still has a distinctly negative stereotype attached to it, especially within educational settings. Cook, Pachler and Bachmair’s 2011 article Ubiquitous Mobility with Mobile Phones: a cultural ecology for mobile learning was particularly enlightening when uncovering why this stigma is attached to mobile technology in the first place, as well as why, with the right attitudes and pedagogy, mobile technology can become an essential tool in educating young people. As Smith et. al (2011) states, “mobile learning is a harbinger of the future of learning” (p. 9).

From   psitory/2005/11/Technology-Computer-Tablets.jpg

I think firstly it is important to acknowledge the reason why educators and policy makers seem to be so against the use of mobile devices in school settings, and why schools and other educational institutions seem to lag behind information institutions such as libraries or museums in implementing mobile technology. One of the major reasons involves the entanglement of mobiles with the worldwide culture of entertainment and banal mass communication, with its superficial modes of communication such as SMS and the small-talk nature of most phone conversations (Park, 2011). In this way, educators simply aren’t recognising the value in mobile technology for encouraging student participation or allowing them another avenue to express themselves creatively in an educational context, and dismiss the technology as frivolous. Another negative viewpoint towards mobile technology includes the fact that these devices seem to have spawned new forms of bullying among young people. There are a number of cases throughout the web where students have recorded violence within the school grounds on their smart phones and uploaded these videos to YouTube, and the bullying here only increases (Park, 2011). Cook, Pachler & Bachmair (2011) believes it is a legitimate consideration to use the school as a form of protection against distraction from the necessary habitus and attitudes for serious and successful learning. They don’t, however, believe that this concern is large enough to warrant the exclusion of mobile technology from schools altogether. What is needed is an understanding of how mobile technology can enhance and further develop learning and key literacy skills, and how this can be done in unique, interesting and engaging ways.


In order to develop policies and strategies for implementing mobile technology within educational settings, one must gain an understanding of the underlying concepts within it. Mobile technology involves the use of portable digital devices where the ‘user’ can generate their own content with a mobile phone or another digital device (Park, 2011). Mobile devices are resources that are available worldwide in everyday life for communication, reflection, conversation, informal learning and entertainment, or for consumption (Cook, Pachler & Bachmair, 2011). Such devices include mobile phones, Apple iPads, smart phones, palmtops, and handheld computers, tablet PCs, laptops, and personal media players etc. which allow users to create content and publish it almost immediately on the Internet. This new ‘mobile mass communication’ is part of what Cook, Pachler & Bachmair (2011) call a ‘mobile complex’. The mobile phones and other mobile devices discussed here represent only the visible tip of the iceberg of a technological and cultural transformation, with mobile technologies themselves becoming cultural resources within the cultural media ecology of schools and the classroom.


Recent innovations in program applications and social software using Web 2.0 technologies have meant that user-generated content can be published via media platforms such as Flickr (for annotated photographs), Twitter (for microblogging or ‘diary-like’ social messages that are no longer than 140 characters), Facebook (a social networking site) or YouTube (for video clips and comments) (Cook, Pachler & Bachmair, 2011). This is a system of individualization, mobility, media convergence and provisionality in which mobile devices, among other things, act as communicative, conversational resources. Students can develop and improve upon digital, media and visual literacies through using these applications, and take control of their own learning (Park, 2011). Mobile learning refers to the use of mobile or wireless devices for the purpose of learning while on the move. This type of learning is not just about the use of portable devices but also about learning across contexts.  In order to integrate mobile phones and other mobile devices into school instruction and learning, arguments are required that move beyond the simple enhancement and augmentation of learning and teaching by mobile media (Cook, Pachler & Bachmair, 2011). Given the increasingly digital world that we live in, being able to access the internet and the information within it where ever you are is becoming increasingly important. Children and young adults, as digital natives, are no different to the rest of society and as such, it is our role as information professionals to design and implement policies whereby the use of mobile technology and devices is put into educational contexts.


Cook, Pachlar and Bachmair (2011) have also noted that this new mobile mass communication is increasingly impacting upon traditional learning of the school in this process of ongoing cultural transformation. As mentioned previously, mass media are witnessing a paradigm shift in which the ‘user’ can generate their own content with a mobile phone or another digital device (Park, 2011). It is extremely important  to consider the interrelation of mobile devices and learning with the agency of children and young people in the school and in their lives outside school. Possibly the best way integrating mobile technology into a school setting is to integrate learning in informal contexts into the already established formal learning practices of the school. As Cook, Pachlar and Bachmair (2011) state, this can be achieved by taking into account the following:

  • the changing socio-cultural and technological structures, among them individualised mobile mass communication and social fragmentation into different milieus;
  • the changing agency of the students; among others, these include the different habitus of learning and different attitudes towards media. The new habitus of learning is one of the characteristics of at-risk learners;
  • the mobile and convergent media practices of everyday life.


Obviously, Mobile Technology can be invaluable for schools and, as a result of the reading I have conducted throughout this unit, I believe that it is only a matter of time before more schools will be adopting various forms of mobile technology into their individual curricula. Adequate forms of teaching and learning which are remote from traditional instruction need to be developed as new technologies come into play, particularly those that are regularly used by young people outside of the classroom. Boundaries that the social world sets around the texts, contexts and social relations between users should be and will be contested as new technologies and new cultural practices collide with old ones (Cook, Pachler & Bachmair, 2011).



Cook, John; Pachler, Norbert; and Bachmair, Ben (2011). Ubiquitous Mobility with Mobile Phones: a cultural ecology for mobile learning. E–Learning and Digital Media, Volume 8 Number 3. pp 1-15.

Park, Yeonjeong (2011). A Pedagogical Framework for Mobile Learning: Categorizing Educational Applications of Mobile Technologies into Four Types. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from

Smith, C., Bradley, C., Cook, J. & Pratt-Adams, S. (2011) Designing for Active Learning: putting learning into context with mobile devices, in Anders D. Olofsson & J. Ola Lindberg (Eds) Informed Design of Educational Technologies in Higher Education: enhanced learning and teaching. IGI Global.

Major Post Two: The Future of School Libraries

Moreau (2012)

As a primary school educator in the midst of these uncertain times, I am actively committed to working within the rapidly changing information-rich society impacting upon the teaching and learning of young children today. This unit; Youth and Popular Culture has opened my eyes to a society which continues to transform, mobilise, digitalise, reduce in size but also expand in knowledge at the same time. Children of today are different to those from generations of the past. A convergence of popular culture texts now plays an extremely important role in the lives of children and adolescents (Hall, 2012). As Buckingham (2007) suggests, a young person’s media experiences today are fluid, non-linear, individualised, diverse and entwined as a core component of their daily lives. Therefore it is imperative that traditional teaching environments and pedagogy changes to meet these new demands. School libraries are the core of this evolution and the cornerstone of learning in a changing society.

Contemporary popular culture resinating through advancing technology has become equally as powerful and important to the individual, as the traditional discourse of schooling and education (Beach & O’Brien, 2008). Students are now accustomed to “multimediating”; engaging in new literacy practices through a combination of print, visual, sound and tactile texts (ibid, p.778). However school libraries are yet to fully embrace the opportunities these 21st century innovations could bring to student learning.  This reluctance is a result of unfamiliarity with new texts, uncertainty about the operation of new technological gadgets  (Zickuhr, Rainie, Purcell, Madden & Brenner, 2012), the preparation time associated with changing current practices, the assumed negative social and psychological effects on students (Buckingham, 2007) as well as the belief that popular culture texts are illegitimate forms of learning. Some futurologists even ask whether libraries still have a place in schools, now that we have the phenomenon of Google. As Boyd (2012) suggests, this shift in attitude is not an easy transformation to make, in institutions which were originally only designed to prepare young people for factory and office work.

As we embark on the global information and technological society of tomorrow, librarianship is entering a golden age of prominence. School libraries are now responsible for empowering learners with valuable 21st century skills and dispositions which will equip young people for successful functioning in a society where values, goals, employment practices and family patterns are very different to what we are traditionally used to (Facer, 2011). However this cannot be done alone. School librarians should be working alongside teachers and other school support staff to enhance the learning opportunities available to students. Mann (2011) and Luhtala (2012) suggest that providing learning opportunities that will empower students to become enthusiastic readers, lifelong learners, critical and creative thinkers, skilful users of technology and active seekers and creators of information; are paramount for the future success of today’s students. For this to occur, change to traditional library infrastructure, collection and personnel is required.


Parkins (2012)

21st Century Library Infrastructure

The design of the traditional school library needs to transform to suit trends in teaching and learning. Silent libraries should be an entity of the past, as contemporary learning has shifted towards more team-based work where communication with individuals is vital (Schatz & Williams, 2010). This will require a reconfiguration or replacement of individual workstations with movable furniture that can be grouped together to enhance and promote collaboration among patrons. Wireless networking will also alleviate the rows of hardwired computers in the centre of the library, creating more space for users to more comfortably use either their own, or borrowed mobile computing devices in a space of their own choice (ibid). Niegaard (2011) agrees and suggests this flexibility should be echoed through the shelving fixtures available as well, as these will not be disappearing; just reconfigured spatially.

Home Trends (2012)

21st Century Library Collection

With the rise of digital content, the future of the traditional school library collection has to change. As Niegaard (2011) suggests, the contemporary library should be a holistic space where printed, physical and traditional materials are blended alongside new digitalised and virtual resources. With information now ubiquitously available through such an array of mediums, libraries need to promote the importance, flexibility and availability of these contemporary learning options. Books are still a core component of the modern library and are not being completely replaced. However, these are increasingly appearing in multimedia formats, including ebooks, audio books and online interactive books (ibid). Media channels including; blogs, wikis, videos, podcasts, webinars, RSS, forums, discussion groups as well as social media are now also complementing what was once only available in print (Williams, 2010).

McNamara (2012)

21st Century Librarians

With the abundance of information available today, the school librarians’ role is now more important than ever before. Librarians have always been regarded as experts in the area of matching books with student needs; however their traditional role is being redefined by mobile technologies and the flexibility this brings to accessing information (Luhtala, 2012). Librarians are now responsible for empowering students to use these devices productively and teaching them how to collect, organise and preserve the most current content effectively (Mann, 2011). This includes promoting the ethical use of this information by adhering to copyright laws and fair use guidelines (ibid). Students need to be taught how to take ownership of this information and transform this to suit their own learning needs. Librarians now also have the ability to extend student learning outside of the immediate school environment by establishing connections and building partnerships with experts in the field, around the world, during real time (Luhtala, 2012; Mann, 2011; Williams, 2010). In addition to this, Luhtala (2012) believes that it is also important for students to be taught how to publish their work for real world audiences using the growing array of mediums that digital technology now provides. The school librarian should promote digital citizenship practices and educate students about online content and the digital footprint that is left behind after each click of the mouse. As a result, it is imperative that school librarians are proactive and forward thinking in their own learning as well as committed to lifelong learning about emerging technologies and how they can be best implemented to promote success for all.

It is now evident, that an effective school library in the 21st century is more than just a fixed, single location where students go to read and borrow books. To keep up with and accommodate for the increasingly rapid changes occurring within society; school libraries are being forced to make traditionally offered services more flexible, mobile and innovative. School librarians are at the forefront of this changing educational practice. No longer will their role be solely the preservation of resources and collections. Today librarians have a pivotal role in curating a blended environment and designing learning opportunities that will encourage a love of lifelong learning. With support from educators like myself, these learning opportunities, improved infrastructure and contemporary collections will provide the knowledge, guidance and access to success in 21st century society.



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

Boyd, B. (2012, April 19). Literacy and the new media landscape [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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

Facer, K. (2011). What futures for digital literacy in the 21st century? In L. Stergioulas and H. Drenoyianni (Eds.), Pursuing Digital Literacy in Compulsory Education (pp. 223-240). New York: Peter Lang.

Hall, L. A. (2012). How popular culture texts inform and shape students discussions of social studies texts. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(4), 296-305. doi: 10.1002/JAAL.00036

Home Trends. (2012). Modern schools with colourful designs [Image]. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Luhtala, M. (2012, August 2). Five key roles for 21st century school librarians. eSchool News. Retrieved from

Mann, S. (2011). 21st century school librarians: Envisioning the future. School Library Monthly, 28(2), 29-30. Retrieved from

McNamara, D. (2012). Is your digital footprint squashing your reputation [Image]. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Moreau, A. (2012). Kids and technology: Finding balance [Image]. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Niegaard, H. (2011). Library space and digital challenges. Library Trends, 60(1), 174-189. Retrieved from

Parkins, J. (2012). Aussies lead in school design [Image]. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Schatz, M., & Williams, J. F. (2010). The 21st century library. Contract, 51(5), 68-70. Retrieved from

Williams, K. (2010). School librarians – Getting qualified for the 21st century school library. School Library Monthly, 27(2), 46-47. Retrieved from

Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L., Purcell, K., Madden, M., & Brenner, J. (2012). Libraries, patrons and e-books. Retrieved from

Major Post One: Game-Based Learning

Who knew that during the time I spent playing video games and computer games when I was younger, I was actually learning? Obviously not my mother!

Accepting the learning potential of digital games has been a challenging discourse for me. An idea that I have had to completely realign and reconstruct, thanks to the endless arguments I had with my mother during my childhood. “Games are a waste of time!” she would say. However, could it be that the ‘waste of time’ turned out to be the argument itself? Game-based learning is becoming a significant learning task in many school classrooms today. It is important for all educators alike, to embrace this change and look towards the possibilities of the future.

Phan (2011)

Playing computer games has become a phenomenon worldwide. No longer is it solely an activity for the ‘nerdy’ male teenager, instead Williamson (2009) has found that 97% of 12-17 year old teens from the United States of America have made it a habit. Similar findings from the United Kingdom show 55% of males and 45% of females are active gamers. This is a direct result of the media culture that children today are growing up in. As Buckingham (2007) suggests, children spend more time interacting with media than participating in any other single activity, apart from sleeping. Children are natively attuned to intertwining speed, excitement, words, pictures, sound and film to acquire and construct information (Williamson, 2009). Therefore a traditional classroom which highlights the slow, uncolourful and out-dated mono features of yesterday, is not only irrelevant for the students of today, but is widening the technological gap between school and home environments significantly (Buckingham, 2007; Williamson, 2009). Recent Research from Buckingham (2007), Beavis and O’Mara (2010), Prensky (2006) and Resnick (2008) all suggests that incorporating digital games within the classroom environment is a powerful and dynamic paradigm which could not only close this technological divide, but offer the students of today with real educational benefits, instead of resistance.

“When young people play video games they do so as embodied subjects whose identities are shaped by the cultures in which they are situated, the circumstances of their lived experience, and the particularities of their dispositions, abilities and interests.” (Bradford, 2010)

Research by Williamson (2009) outlines four educational benefits of incorporating game-based learning into the classroom environment.

  1. Games are pervasiveThey influence people’s thinking and shape the way people act in the world. This is a result of the routines, rules and actions that are required to be successful in playing the game.
  2. Games support the construction of knowledge – They invite people to be active, not passive recipients. As active users, people will be encouraged to try out new ideas, make decisions, communicate with others and make meaning of new worlds.
  3. Games are authentic practicesThey encourage individuals to use problem-solving skills, make decisions, take risks and experience failure within environments which are safe and familiar. It is suggested that game designers usually create games that gradually build up the complexity of these skills throughout the process of play and invite individuals to practice skills constantly.
  4. Gaming can promote media literacyVideo games can support the learning and understanding of media as well as reasons behind how, why and for whom it was produced.

Each of these are 21st century skills which we, as educators, need to ensure students, as well as ourselves are mastering in our classrooms. We do not know where our world is going, or how it is going to change in the next ten years but as Prensky (2006) believes, digital games “offer up the most realistic vision of how everyone, young or old, will be learning and working in the decades to come.” Bringing gaming into our classrooms will ensure that students our students are active participants both within and outside of the school environment in the 21st century.

Throughout my research however, I have come across many theorists suggesting that educators should be taking this game-based learning one step further and encouraging students to design their own digital computer games in the classroom. Gershenfeld (2011) suggests game making is a rich, authentic task which requires a complex set of higher-order skills and links directly to the Critical and Creative Thinking general capability dictated by the Australian Curriculum. By designing characters, game rules, dialogue and visual design; students are expected to inquire, explore and develop questions relevant to their digital content (Resnick, 2008). This encourages the development of peer collaboration linked to the ability to process information, look at options, possibilities and alternatives. Problem solving is also an essential skill to game making as students work on logic with cause and effect in the design of a game as well as next step creative solutions (Dalal, 2011).

Betcher (2010)

Scratch is one game making software increasingly evident in schools. Scratch is a visual programming language which enables easy creation and sharing of digital interactive media (Scratch, 2012). Through exploration and experimentation with this software, children learn to snap together graphical puzzle pieces to create video games, interactive stories, animations and music (Resnick, 2007). These projects can be shared online through various communities and galleries on the Scratch website (Monroy-Hernandez & Resnick, 2008). From engaging in Scratch, young people can learn important mathematical and computational skills but also develop 21st century skills including, creative thinking, systematic reasoning, critical analysing and collaborating (Resnick, 2008). Beavis and O’Mara (2010) confirm this thinking, and suggest Game Maker is another piece of software with similar educational benefits. This platform of learning encourages young people to shift from passive media consumers to active media producers and ultimately gives them the power to control content of the online world and successfully join the participatory culture of today’s society, more fully than if they were just playing the game (Monroy-Hernandez, 2009).

Click to find out how Scratch can develop Critical and Creative Thinking in Children.

Although the prospect of incorporating game-based learning into all classrooms sounds exciting, there are important issues and implications that need to be considered before this can logistically become ‘best practice.’ These may  include; preparation time, licensing issues, lacking IT support in schools, inadequate classroom space, expense of software, lacking relevance to curriculum, inappropriate content and difficulty catering for all abilities in the classroom (Williamson, 2009). Apperley and Beavis (2011) also suggest that teacher competency and lack of appropriate professional development could also act as a setback for some schools that will need to be addressed.

As our world continues to change, the powerfully interactive nature of these new texts will need to continue to gain prominence in education, if we are to minimise this new digital divide between home and school. What I have come to realise is that we do need to reformulate the school curriculum, but this does not mean abandoning traditional literacies altogether (Beach & O’Brien, 2008). Incorporating computer and video games into the classroom environment will draw on the basis of these traditional literacies but position students in a world of 21st century learning. As educators we need to remain open minded to these possibilities, as they will socially position learning and encourage individuals to use their imagination to make sense of the rapidly changing world around us (Thomas and Brown, 2011).



Apperley, T., & Beavis, C. (2011). Literacy into action: Digital games as action and text in English and literacy classroom. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 6(2), 130-143. doi: 10.1080/1554480X.2011.554620

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

Beavis, C., & O’Mara, J. (2010). Computer games – pushing at the boundaries of literacy. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 33(1), 65-76. Retrieved from

Betcher, C. (2010). Teaching kids to think using Scratch [Image]. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Bradford, C. (2010). Looking for my corpse: Video games and player positioning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 33(1), 54-64. Retrieved from

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

Dalal, N. P. (2011). Using educational technologies to further critical thinking, creative thinking, and wisdom. Paper presented at 2011 IEEE International Conference on Technology for Education. doi: 10.1109/T4E.2011.64

Gershenfeld, A. (2011). Levelling up from player to designer. Knowledge Quest, 40(1), 55-59. Retrieved from

Monroy-Hernandez, A. (2009, March). Designing a website for creative learning. Paper presented at WebSci’ 09: Society Online. Retrieved from

Monroy-Hernandez, A., & Resnick, M. (2008, March-April). Empowering kids to create and share programmable media. Interactions. doi: 10.1145/1340974

Phan, J. (2011). Marathon gaming session has fatal consequences [Image]. Retrieved October 23, 2012, from

Prensky, M. (2006). Don’t bother me Mom, I’m learning!: How computer and video games are preparing your kids for twenty-first century success and how you can help! St Paul, Minn: Paragon House.

Resnick, M. (2007). All I really know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. Paper presented at 6th ACM SIGCHI Conference on Creativity and Cognition. Retrieved from

Resnick, M. (2008, December/January). Sowing the seeds for a more creative society. Learning and Leading with Technology. Retrieved from

Scratch. (2012). Scratch: Imagine, Program, Share. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown.

Williamson, B. (2009), Computer games, schools and young people: A report for educators on using games for learning. Retrieved from

Major Post One: Books and Blogs – Promoting Reading Achievement in Digital Contexts

Throughout this unit, I have learned a great deal about youth popular culture and applying this theory in an educational context. As a Masters student in LIS (Library and Information Science) however, I am most interested in web 2.0 technology and how it has re-shaped the landscape of youth popular culture. I am particularly interested in seeing the evidence of how web 2.0 applications have positively impacted upon digital and visual literacy in young adults and in their emotional and psychological health.




The reading from week six, Books and blogs: Promoting reading achievement in digital contexts by K. O’Sullivan(2012), was very effective in illustrating how blogs in particular have positively impacted upon digital and visual literacy in high-school aged youths. We live in an increasingly digital world and the rapidly expanding repertoire of information and communication technologies has bought about significant changes to our daily routine (O’Sullivan, 2012). O’Sullivan’s article points out that teenagers are not immune to these changes – in fact, they seem to be one of the demographics most affected by it. So much so in fact that the term ‘digital natives’ was coined to refer to this new generation of people who have grown up with digital technology, find it second nature to effectively use and navigate, and are incredibly adaptable to new updates with software and technology. Where once literacy was traditionally entrenched in competency with print and the written word, today students have access to a world enhanced by electronic modules filled with audio and visual material. Literacies for reading these multimodal texts require new interpretive, creative and communication skills which sometimes are ignored within an educational setting (O’Sullivan, 2012). Diverse options for communicating with others are available with these new applications, and the options available for communicating with others are seemingly endless – through email and SMS messaging, through websites, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, chat features on social networking sites, updates on social networking sites, and microblogging applications such as Twitter. Students actively engage in these new and alternative literacies largely outside the classroom, through games, robotics and social networking (O’Sullivan, 2012). They are actively creating blogs, zines, avatars, and comics using digital and electronic media outside of the school environment as well. Students can present aspects of themselves and their lives to a wide community through all of these mediums, and being literate in these applications and in all of these formats is increasingly becoming a necessity (O’Sullivan, 2012).


From: ://


Of particular importance is the notion of authorship and identity within the blogging environment. O’Sullivan’s article discusses this in quite a lot of detail, but the result is very effective. Representations of personal identity may be different electronically than they are in the physical world (O’Sullivan, 2012). These identities are shaped through selective use of form and style within the blog itself, as well as the design of the blog, the themes chosen to shape the blog’s appearance, and the content of the blog itself. These are obvious opportunities for a writer to express their identity to the audience at large. A blog itself is really a more public online version of the traditional diary or journal that gives a teenager a place to express their views, their lives, their favourite activities, and to share their interests. Blogs in this way become an extension of the blogger themselves and allow for self-reflection, experimentation and self-expression as well as validation from people who follow and read the blog (O’Sullivan, 2012). Given that teenagers in particular are in a phase of their emotional development where they seek to set themselves apart from their parents and create their own identities, blogs can be very effective in this way (Marshall & Sensoy, 2012).


There is also considerable evidence that students engage more enthusiastically with assignments through digital contemporary technologies given the dynamic communication possibilities these applications offer (Graham, 2012; Lachney, 2012). Creating a blog, even within an educational context, allows a student to take charge of the ways they present and share their views and the knowledge they have obtained, and at the same time, they can reach a wider audience with ease. It allows them to be creative, to add content in unique and individual ways, to put their own individual stamp on what they are learning and how they have learned it. Blogs also provide students with the opportunity to further develop their digital and visual literacy skills; to create videos, to use CMS and HTML coding, and to develop skills with digital art, photography and design. According to O’Sullivan (2012), the pedagogy of using blogs assists students’ learning because the public nature of a blog opens up a lot of possibilities to go beyond the confines of  school. It seems to be a motivational factor to students to think of their work as exposed and available outside of the literal walls of a classroom. As O’Sullivan (2012) states, it is interesting to consider what may be revealed about an author through the use of a particular blogging tool, the insights the student conveys,  and to which audience these insights are addressed. On the whole, O’Sullivan has written a professional, well-written article that is quite easy to read. The arguments are made succinctly, and proven through use of examples from other professional sources. I’ve discovered a completely different dimension to blogging and how the act of blogging can both educate young people academically and enhance their development as individuals. I’ve learned that even the most seemingly simple web 2.0 applications can have far-reaching and complicated effects on their users in the long term.



Graham, Andrea (2012). Trending in Youth Culture: The Best Blogs and Sites for Youth Advocates. [blog] Voya Inc. Retrieved from

Lachney, Michael (2012). Pop culture criticism as a 21st century skill. [blog] DML Central. Retrieved from

Marshall, Elizabeth, and Sensoy, Özlem (2012). Rethinking Popular Culture and Media. Rethinking Schools Online Magazine. Retrieved from

O’Sullivan, (2012). Books and blogs: Promoting reading achievement in digital contexts. Wakefield Press, pp. 191-209.

Video Games as Texts and Immersive Experiences

As a library and information science student, I try to be impartial to the ‘container’ a text comes in, and focus on the content. It’s easy to consider a paper book vs. an e-book, but other mediums do not translate as easily. When I read Clare Bradford’s article Looking for my corpse: Video games and player positioning, I learned something of youth culture and video games as a medium. I understand getting involved in a book, but I’ve never understood how others can be equally involved in video games. I learned that gaming culture is entwined with youth culture, that immersion is key to a positive gaming experience, and that video games are considered textual forms.

Clare Bradford’s discussion of three games – PC-based World of Warcraft, Nintendo DS Pokemon, and Wii/PS3’s Bully – combines a review of the games with a review of her experiences as a player. Bradford adds an academic view of the worlds, language, and interactions encountered by players. She comes to gaming as a novice, which gives her a fairly unbiased opinion and allows her to question ingrained gaming norms.

What struck me most was the discussion of games as a medium. James Gee’s assertion that games cannot be assessed with the same tools as books and films (cited in Bradford, 2010, p.55) was particularly insightful. Although there are comparable elements – narration, character and world development, and the “knowledge, experience and values that shape the engagement” (Bradford, 2010, p.55) – games add the wilful positioning of the player inside the world their actions control the game, and sometimes, the game limits these actions. It’s important to note that Bradford refers to engagement, not activity. Gaming is not simply something to do to pass the time, but something to involve yourself in.

Readers are unlikely to finish a book if they don’t feel invested in the story, and gamers’ experiences are similar. The narrative and gameplay must engage the player and hold their interest. Alexander Galloway refers to this as “the game’s total world of narrative action” (cited in Bradford, 2010, p. 56). Typically, game designers attempt to achieve this through compelling storytelling (both in the premise and the cut scenes), music, visuals, achievable yet challenging level design, and the overall experience of moving the character through the game.

Youth are also driven by achievement, either by raising their own high score or competing against other gamers. Competitive gameplay and online scoreboards can be a turn-off, or they can be a motivator. As the author notes, novice gamers can get left behind if they take too long to respond to a quest in WoW (Bradford, 2010, p. 59). The social aspect of these games – joining a quest, or participating in online multi-player games – changes the environment, and can positively or negatively affect the player’s experience. Unlike reading a book or watching a film, the players are actively engaged in narrating the story.

I would describe myself as an occasional gamer. The only Playstation game I have completed is Ico, a highly popular action-adventure game. Ico was released in 2001, and received three game developers awards. It is an excellent example of the type of game that cannot be analysed with traditional tools. The developers succeeded in creating a game that is considered art by some reviewers, and is known to provoke emotional responses in the player (Go!GamingGiant, 2009). Ico employs a minimalist approach to the gameplay, which brings the story and setting to the forefront of the experience.  As in WoW and Bully, the player guides the protagonist’s actions. In this way, players become immersed in the game. Bradford refers to immersion as “those episodes or moments when players experience the avatar as ‘I’ and are drawn into the action of a quest or an exchange with a non-playing character” (2010, pp. 57-58).

Youth bring their experience with them when they begin to play a video game. Bradford says, “players behave like readers and film audiences in that they negotiate meanings dialectically, so that no two experiences of a game are exactly the same.” (Bradford, 2010, p. 54) In books, the narrative is linear, and the text never changes, but readers approach texts with their own lived experience. Games that allow players to control their characters may ultimately bring the hero to the same place, but in a different order, or on a harder setting, or with a different aim. Bradford concludes that games “activate new forms of textual pleasure and new forms of sociality” and “like other kinds of texts, their possibilities are never exhausted or their meanings ever absolute.” (2010, p. 63) A text should draw you in and compel you to enter its world. A very good text can invite you to re-read it or play it again, simply for the experience.



Bradford, C. (2010). Looking for my corpse: video games and player positioning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 33(1), pp. 64-64.

Go!GamingGiant. (2009, August 31). “Will Games Ever Make Us Cry?” Retrieved October 18, 2012 from


Happy Hunger Games

I first read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy in the late 2000s, as they were released. They’re action-packed, thought-provoking, gritty, violent, and showcase an absurd balance of excess and poverty. The series ranked third on the American Library Association’s 2011 list of challenged books. Some parents and teachers have pushed for the books to be banned, claiming they are “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; [with] offensive language,” (The Week, April 10, 2012) among other things. Despite the negative press, the books have grown into a franchise.

Hunger Games Barbie Doll

Photo by J. Garnett

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are not superheroes, wizards, or demon hunters, yet they aren’t from our world, either. Collins’ dystopian setting is a compelling one, and her characters have grabbed the attention of pre-teens and teens (and more than a few adults). As books, The Hunger Games trilogy was a force to be reckoned with; the addition of movies has spun the series into overdrive. Jennifer Lawrence, the actress behind Katniss, has said how terrifying it was to portray such a beloved character. “It’s not very often that you play roles that are famous before you even get there,” Jennifer said in a PopSugar interview.

The merchandise on offer is quite impressive: t-shirts, jewellery, nail polish, bags, socks, pillowcases, laptop decals, and a Barbie doll. There are countless fan-made YouTube trailers and clip reels. Phrases from the books and films have filtered into pop culture, including “May the odds be ever in your favour,” spoken by Effie Trinket.

The Hunger Games reaches its fans with a female character who’s strong, honest, hardworking, and believably flawed. It has demonstrated intertextuality in a big way. The influence of The Hunger Games isn’t limited to merchandise – archery is on the rise as an activity. Merida in Disney’s Brave and Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers have pushed this trend even further. It’s been announced that Mockingjay will be split into two films, so this phenomenon is likely to pervade youth culture until at least 2016.

 References (2012). You Win For Best Principal Ever. [image] Retrieved October 20, 2012 from

PopSugar. (2012, April 17). Jennifer Lawrence Interview On Josh Hutcherson Rating Her Kissing Skills & Hunger Games. [Video file]. Retrieved October 20, 2012 from

Staskiewicz, K. (2012, July 10). ‘Mockingjay’ to be split into two movies, release dates announced. Retrieved October 20, 2012 from

The Week. (2012, April 10). Should school libraries ban The Hunger Games? Retrieved October 20, 2012 from

TweenTribune. (2012, April 23). Hunger Games makes archery cool. Retrieved October 20, 2012 from

Digital Storytelling

As my minor project for my Masters degree, I’m currently undertaking a project where I’m designing three workshops that will teach years 8 and 9 students about creating their own digital stories. The school being used for this project currently has its own manga club, so students are being encouraged to use their manga art to tell a story digitally. Hopefully, learning these skills will increase their digital and visual literacy skills.

I thought I might share a few of the resources I’ve been studying for this project to provide a sample of what kind of research is being done in this area. My resources are a mix of how to create a digital story, how to teach digital story workshops, and theory behind digital storytelling, digital literacy, and how digital storytelling can be used in educational contexts.


Adams, Gilly et. al (2008). A Guide to Digital Storytelling. BBC Capture Team, Wales. Retrieved from

Australian Communications and Media Authority (2009). What is digital media literacy and why is it important? Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 25th July 2012 from

Brown, Lucianne (2012). Digital Storytelling – Workshop Overview. Library of Congress Teaching Resources and  Governors State University. Retrieved from

Brown, June; Brown, Ted; & Bryan, Jan (2005). Twenty-first century literacy and technology in K-8 Classrooms. Innovate Volume 1, Issue 3. Retrieved from                                                                                

Hague, Cassie and Williamson, Ben (2009). Digital Participation, Digital Literacy, and Schools. Futurelab. Vol 8. Issue 10. Retrieved 2nd August from

Kaffel, Nicole (2007). Digital Storytelling: How to Create a Digital Story. University of Illinois. Retrieved from

Lambert, Joe (2010) Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Center for Digital Storytelling, Digital Diner Press, California. Retrieved from

Lascia, J.D (2006). Digital Storytelling: A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps: Expert Tips on Creating a Polished, Professional Digital Video. Retrieved from:

Matthews-DeNatle, Gail (2008). Digital Storytelling – Tips and Resources. Educause and Simmons College. Retrieved from

Ohler, Jason (2007) Storytelling and new media narrative. [blog] Retrieved from

Pratt, Susie (2010). Digital Storytelling Guide. University of Wollongong, pp. 1-24.

Pierson, Melissa E. & Robin, Bernard R. (2005). A Multilevel Approach to Using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. University of Houston Press, pp. 1-8. Retrieved from

Terrell, Shelly (2011). Digital Storytelling. Technology 4 Kids. Retrieved from http://technology4kids.pbworks/w/page/244605567/DigitalStorytelling


Library Spaces for Youths

According to Feinburg and Keller (2010), “children’s and teen spaces need to reflect the library’s philosophy of service and be designed as an integrated entity with a consideration of and an attraction for young patrons.” The designing and building of such spaces requires an examination of the aims and roles of the library and how the library utilises space to satisfy the needs of the community. In particular, the library should focus on the needs of families and youths, from infancy through to young adulthood.

When visiting the Caboolture Public Library, it is quite obvious that a lot of thought and effort has been put into creating engaging and comforting spaces for both children and young adults. Both children and young adults can visit the library and discover entertaining and educational materials, as well as technology designed especially for their age groups. The way that parents act within these spaces will also determine how children will act and feel within the library setting.

The Caboolture Hub


The Caboolture Public Library is situated inside the Caboolture Hub, which is a large building on King Street that encompasses the library and an art gallery on the ground floor, and a number of business and conference rooms on the upper floor. The library itself is large and open, full of natural light and light, bright colours.


The children’s area is separate from the adult and young adult sections of the library and contains all of the related materials, including picture and chapter books, non-fiction books, children’s dvds and cds, toys, puzzles and games, so that children need only visit their area of the library. Everything in this section is awash with bright lime green, as can be seen in the picture above. The space is full of areas for children to sit and play, including soft green couches, tables and chairs, and carpeted areas on the floor. Flat-screened televisions are also mounted to the walls so that children can watch movies or TV programs, or play games through xbox, playstation or other gaming consoles. A number of computers are also provided for children to use for play or for school homework.


The children’s area also provides an area for children to play while they learn. A specially designed ‘tree’ was built in the middle of the carpeted area for children to play in, read, and escape from the noise outside. It has proven to be very popular with its young visitors.


The space designed especially for teenagers is also made enticing. The space is more muted in colour, with oranges, whites, and browns. More computers are provided for youths in this section, as the older children are far more likely to use them, whether or fun or for educational purposes. This space also has more couches for youths to sit and read or just to hang out. Flat-screened televisions are also provided on one wall of the space, with gaming consoles also available for use. All of the young adult materials are also available next to this space, including young adult novels, manga and graphic novels, audio books, magazines and non-fiction and reference books.


All in all, Caboolture Library has provided spaces where children and young adults can be comfortable while they play, read, learn, and engage with their peers. The library has no policy where children and young adults have to be silent, so they are able to socialise and enjoy their time in the library. The spaces are very popular and always seem to be in use. Caboolture Library have definitely adhered to Feinburg and Keller’s ideals of how libraries should approach the design and implementation of children’s and youths spaces.