Posted in Digital Citizenship, Social Media, Technology in Education

Teens, social media and wellbeing:  5 statistics parents & teachers should be aware of

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Australian teens spend a significant amount of time on electronic devices and screen time is something many parents raise as a concern.  Because of the increasingly ubiquitous nature of technology, more and more activities are being carried out on devices and when teenages are online, it is possible that they are watching TV, videos or Youtube, reading, listening to music, gaming, using social media, talking to friends via messaging or video chat or doing school work and homework.  A large scale study by Common Sense Media, a US-based organisation dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology revealed that “on any given day, American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework. [American] tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) use an average of about six hours’ (5:55) worth of entertainment media daily” (2015, p.15).

While no such study has yet been undertaken in Australia, the Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2015, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), included a number of questions for teenagers about their social media experiences. The findings from these questions (summarised in the infographic below) are of interest to those of us concerned about issues of digital health and wellness.  As outlined by Ribble, this is one element of digital citizenship that needs to be taught to young people so that they can protect their physical and psychological well-being in a digital world (2011, para.8).

social media (1)


Australian Psychological Society. (2015, November 8). The nation’s distressed turning to risky behaviours for stress management [Press release]. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from

Common Sense. (2015). The Common Sense census: Media use by teens and tweens (Rep.). Retrieved November 10, 2015, from Common Sense Media Organisation website:

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Posted in Book Review, Books & Reading, CSU, Digital Literacy, English Literature, INF533, Reading, YA Literature

Book Review: Whitechapel Real Time by The History Press

This review was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

Whitechapel real time (@WChapelRealTime) is a historical retelling of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ mystery.  The story, published by The History Press, is delivered via micro-blogging in a Twitter feed and supported by additional content on the publisher’s website and Facebook page.  This project was written in 2013 between the 24th of August and the 11th of November to mark the 125 year anniversary of the first ‘Jack the Ripper’ murder.  The History Press state that all content for the story was thoroughly researched in order to accurately portray Victorian society during 1888 (2013a, para.1).  It can be identified that this story is a digitally originated literary text and due to elaborations in the form of factual information, non-fiction artefacts and links, this text can be categorised as an interactive story (Unsworth, 2006, p.3).  The success of Whitechapel real time is its ability to engage readers through literary devices, interactive opportunities and thoughtful design.

Whitechapel real time is a complex narrative that contains a number of literary elements including a fast-paced plot, character development and an evocative setting.  The content of Whitechapel real time is the result of work by historians, some calling themselves ‘Ripperologists’, who researched primary and secondary sources to produce a historically focused story (Dangerfield, 2013, para.26).  The plot follows events that unfolded over four months in 1888 and is delivered via first-person tweets.  Characters are identifiable by hashtagged names at the start of tweets.  By retelling these events from the perspectives of local people at the time, such as reporters, dock workers and policemen, the feed develops characterisation, allowing the reader to feel empathy for those touched by the crimes.  These tweets are interspersed with photographs and artefacts from Victorian London (as seen in the examples below) that create setting and build atmosphere as the plot progresses.  The use of these artefacts and visuals demonstrate synergy between the digital features and literary elements of the story (Walsh, 013, p.189), and is a strength of the publication.


Whitechapel real time is not the first instance of The History Press experimenting with Twitter to publish a story.  They had previously received praise for the Titanic real time project that was published in 2012 and amassed over 111, 000 followers (Brown, 2013, para.14).  Kasman Valenza and Stephens state that such experimentation with new forms of reading is a trend among authors who aim to appeal to young readers that have grown up surrounded by digital media (2012, p.2).  These platforms promise to engage users by offering them opportunities for interaction and feedback.  Such interaction is evident in Whitechapel real time when the reader is offered the opportunity to follow links to further historical information about the events and people identified in the story.  There is evidence that readers of Whitechapel real time retweeted, replied to tweets and quoted tweets and as such were engaged in the interactive structures offered. Thus, the Twitter steam grants the reader of Whitechapel real time choice and control over the text and provides a space for discourse between the author and reader (Skains, 2010, p.98).

WCRT interaction

Using a micro-blogging environment to tell a story has design implications for the reader.  One such design effect of using Twitter to read a story is the impact of fragmented delivery.  On this point, opinion is divided about the ability of Twitter literature to capture the reader through a narrative that is revealed gradually.  Franklin states that tweeting a story line by line doesn’t work because “attempting to follow a live narrative on Twitter makes readers hyperaware of the down time between tweets (2014, para.10).  Yet, Fitzgerald states that reading a story live on twitter builds suspense because the reader has no control over when they can read them (2013, para.6). Furthermore, Davis argues that the compulsory short, sharp nature of micro-blogging results in works that are “oddly poetic on both a visual and conceptual level” (2008, p.14).  A good design decision of The History Press was to deliver the story of Whitechapel real time via one Twitter handle.  If the story had been delivered via multiple handles or hashtags, readers would have experienced difficulty in assembling the pieces later (Franklin, 2014, para.9).  Interestingly, because of the nature of social media, the experience of reading this book live was only possible during the ten weeks of publication.  Within this reading, the reader was reliant on waiting for new tweets to move ahead in the plot.  Subsequent readings of the story do not necessitate down time between tweets but do require the reader to scroll backwards to the beginning of the Twitter feed and work their way through the tweets. Consequently, the design of a Twitter feed narrative such as Whitechapel real time has different impacts for different readers.

Conclusively, Whitechapel real time is an example of an interactive story published on a Twitter feed.  This story combines literary elements, interactive structures and design features to engage readers in history, in particular the events of 1888 during which the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders took place in Victorian London.


Brown, E. (2013, August 22). ‘Whitechapel Real Time’ Twitter project marks 125 years of multiple murders [Web log post]. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Dangerfield, A. (2013, August 23). Twitter real-time explores Jack the Ripper murders. BBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Davis, O. (2008). Twittered texts. Meanjin, 67(4), 14. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from;dn=078749604341308;res=IELAPA

Fitzgerald, A. (Director). (2013, July). Adventures in Twitter fiction [Video file]. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from

Franklin, R. (2014). Character development: It’s been touted as a revolutionary platform for expression, but does Twitter literature really have a future? Foreign Policy, November-December, 104. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013a). White Chapel Real Time. Retrieved August 15, 2015, from

The History Press. (2013b). The History Press Publisher [Facebook Page]. Retrieved from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Kasman Valenza, J., & Stephens, W. (2012). Reading Remixed. Educational Leadership, 69(6), 75-78. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Skains, R. L. (2010). The shifting author-reader dynamic. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 96-111. doi:10.1177/1354856509347713

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

@WChapelRealTime. (2013, August 24 – November 11). WhiteChapelRealTime [Twitter feed]. Retrieved from

Posted in Teaching and Learning

Book review: Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

BacklashBacklash by Sarah Darer Littman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a cautionary tale that delves into the very topical issue of cyberbullying. It is the story of Lara, who befriends a boy she doesn’t know personally. Full of insecurities, Lara is very flattered when this “hot” boy from a nearby school asks to be her friend on Facebook. His attention increases, and Lara finds herself fantasising about meeting him until he rejects her in a very public post and many of the kids at Lara’s school ‘like’ the post.

The repercussions of inappropriate online behaviour and relationships are widespread and these are explored throughout the novel. The consequence is that Lara’s life spirals out of control and this affects her health and emotional wellbeing. The further implications for Lara’s friends and families are also significant.

The storyline is structured in four parts: Part 1 – now (the present); Part 2 – two months earlier; Part 3 – now; and Epilogue – twelve months later. This structure allows readers to appreciate how such events can come about.

The strength of this novel lays in the characterisation and the reader can relate to the feelings and actions of the teenagers in the book. None of the characters are perfect and the flaws of teens and adults alike are realistic and thought provoking. The message in this book is very powerful and it will appeal to many young teenagers who are living the reality of social media and digital lives.

View all my reviews

Posted in C21st Learners, Digital Citizenship, Technology in Education

Digital Lifestyle = Public = Digital Citizenship = Digital Learning Environment


A digital lifestyle

The Students I work with live digital lifestyles. They attend a BYOT school that requires them to own a laptop. Additionally, the majority of them also own personal mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Some of them also have wearable computers such a smart watches and fitbits. They use social media and belong to online communities. They are often texting, downloading, updating and searching and they are always looking for Wi-Fi and chargers. Come to think of it, this same lifestyle is lived by their teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches and employers. It’s just the way life is for many in modern society.

Public roles as media makers & community participants

Modern society requires people to take on “increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants” (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2006, p.3). Preparing students for the modern workplace and academia requires adding non-traditional skills, knowledge and cultural competencies to our curriculums. To be best prepared for their futures, students will need to:

  • understand right behaviours and build the practical skills required to use technology in healthy, responsible and safe ways;
  • be able to learn from and build knowledge with peers and teams of people, often whom they may never meet face-to-face;
  • value intellectual property in order to use the work of others legally and ethically and also to license their own work appropriately;
  • be critical users of information so that they choose authoritative sources and are aware of the ways that media shape perceptions of the world; and
  • understand how to contribute to the collective in order to develop meaningful solutions.

Digital citizenship education

In Australia, the Digital Education Revolution saw laptops put into the hands of students. As this initiative has reached its conclusion, schools across the country are implementing BYOD policies (Smith, 2014, Para.2). Given this, it is time for education to shift the focus from the equitable provision of digital access to the equitable provision of opportunities to use technology to develop the social, academic and cultural literacies required for digital participation. Furthermore, teachers who simply use devices as electronic notepads or textbooks will fail to provide opportunities for students to build digital citizenship competencies and attitudes such as those outlined by Mike Ribble (2011, p.11):


Digital learning environments

Authentic digital citizenship education requires digital learning environments. By enabling students to communicate, create, collaborate, disseminate, store and manage information in these environments digital citizenship knowledge and skills are not a choice for students and teachers to adopt, they are a necessity. Schools that are preparing young people for 21st century pathways understand the need for such environments and their responsibility to “develop the skills needed for critical evaluation, online collaboration and communication and behaviours which support safe, responsible and ethical use of digital technology” (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010, p.8).

What does this mean for my students?

That brings me back to my students and what I need to consider for their learning. One of the things that I think is important for authentic digital citizenship education is for students to engage in environments beyond the Content Management System (CMS). This means we need to use Web 2.0 tools and social media in our classrooms. By doing so, we can lead our students towards positive digital footprints. Furthermore, if we don’t guide students to participate in authentic online environments and communities, we risk the proliferation of ignorance about the consequences and permanence of their online interactions.


Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2010). Digital learning statement. Innovation and Next Practice Division, Melbourne. Digital Learning Statement [Fact sheet].Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2014, February 21). End of free laptop program means it’s BYO device now for many high school students. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 14, 2015.

Image attribution

Stokpic, Person Abstract Ipad No Face Sky Clouds Man, CC0 Public Domain

Posted in Teaching and Learning

RSS feeds for school libraries


How can RSS enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users? 

What is an RSS Feed?

Feeds allow websites to deliver content and updates via a subscription to users. These feeds may be delivered to a reader, a portal or even email. For the organisation behind the website, this is a great way to keep their community updated. For the user, RSS feeds are great because they aggregate information from a variety of favourite sources into one convenient location. RSS feeds streamline both transmitting and receiving news and information. (Google, 2015)

How might libraries use RSS feeds?

Libraries would find RSS feeds beneficial for two reasons: the collection of information from valued sources; and, the passing on of this information together with their own updates to their customers. The collation of resources and information has always been a key role of libraries and like other curation tools, RSS feeds can simplify this task which has become increasingly complicated in the Information Age. Libraries might in turn encourage customers to subscribe to their RSS feeds to promote services and library news, to customise information delivery to targeted audiences and to enhance the user experience.

What are some examples of libraries using/potentially using RSS feeds?


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The Inside a Dog site publishes information about books for young people and is provided by the State Library of Victoria. Their blog roll provides users with updates about new titles, authors and awards. The blog roll provides the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed. This feed URL could be added to a user’s reader such as Feedly or even embedded into a user’s blog with a widget. As a secondary school library, such a widget would be a very convenient way to promote YA fiction to students.


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The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) library embed an RSS feed from their blog onto the library website – this connects users to their blog and displays the titles of recently published articles. By doing this, they are linking their virtual spaces and ensuring the website transmits university and library news and updates to visiting patrons.


RSS feeds are valuable tools for libraries to consider and the school library is no different. The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) tells us that school libraries have community responsibilities that include sharing knowledge and promoting library and information services to the school and the wider community (2004). RSS feeds would be one of the methods school libraries could use towards achieving this goal. By encouraging students to use RSS feeds, Teacher-Librarians would also be supporting them to develop the information skills necessary for successful digital citizenship.


Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved December 29, 2014, from

Google. (2015). Feed 101. Retrieved January 14, 2015, from

Queensland University of Technology. (2014). QUT Library Home. Retrieved January 14, 2015, from

State Library of Victoria. (2014). Inside a dog. Retrieved January 14, 2015, from

Image Attribution

Nemo, Rss News Feed Blog Web Icon Symbol Www, CC0 Public Domain

Posted in Teaching and Learning

The Internet from Web 1.0 to 3.0 in 25 years


The general public first experienced The Internet as a place to browse or surf for information. They could read material on static web pages but without coding knowledge could not otherwise participate online. The Internet changed from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 when users began to be able to upload and create content. Forums, blogs, wikis and YouTube are all examples of Web 2.0 platforms that allow user generated content. The introduction of social media platforms took Web 2.0 to another level because they allowed users to communicate with each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are all examples of social media platforms. (Schwerdtfeger, 2013) The following video provides a concise explanation of this evolution of The Internet.

What’s next?

The Internet in currently evolving into Web 3.0 and this will bring with it new platforms that bridge the gap between the off-line world and the on-line world. These platforms will provide a filter of information between the user and reality. This is referred to as augmented reality (Schwerdtfeger, 2013). These platforms will also bridge the gap between the off-line and on-line world by moving beyond computing devices to incorporate other objects in what is being referred to as The Internet of Things.

The following two videos provide a concise introductory explanation of Augmented Reality and The Internet of Things:

Augmented Reality explained by Common Craft (2010):

The Internet of Things explained by Mashable (2014):

In a presentation for the Edtech National Conference held in Brisbane on 3rd June, 2014, Judy O’Connell shared her insights into how Web 3.0 will impact learning environments. These insights have been shared on the following presentation:


Common Craft. (2010, June 10). Augmented Reality – Explained by Common Craft (Free Version). [Video file]. Retrieved December 13, 2014, from

Murphy, S. (2014, June 25). What Is the Internet of Things? | Mashable Explains. [Video file]. Retrieved December 13, 2014, from

O’Connell, J. (2014, June 01). Preparing for the impact of Web 3.0. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from

Schwerdtfeger, Patrick. (2013, Mar 17). “What Is Web 2.0? What Is Social Media? What Comes Next??” [Video file]. YouTube.  Web. 13 Dec. 2014.>.

Image Attribution

Computer artwork of internet communication. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.