New Literacies, Digital Media and Classroom Teaching Conference

I am convening a conference on September 3 and 4 which I am very excited about – click below for the conference flyer.


UPDATE: Here is a tv news spot about our conference:

and here is some assorted media coverage from the conference:

New Literacies conference media

Research Seminar: Children’s Multimodal Authoring

My colleague Ruth Fielding-Barnsley and I are presenting our research at an upcoming research seminar. All welcome!

Research Seminar Series 2010

26th August 2010 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Education Video Conference Rooms:
Launceston: NH.A221c.Video Hobart: SB.Hytten325.Video
Cradle Coast: CC.A119.Video

The format of these presentations is one that will leave plenty of time for discussion, so please come prepared to exchange ideas.

Resistance to Literacy Intervention
Presented by Ruth Fielding-Barnsley

A total of 752, 5 year old children were screened on measures of phonological awareness and expressive language and of these the lowest 20% were included in an intervention program. The two approaches to intervention included a language based program and a phonological program. The language program was based on Marian Blank’s four levels of language and the phonological program was based on Hatcher and Hulme’s Sound Linkage program. Each child received a total of 16 hours of intervention in small groups including 8 hours of phonological awareness and 8 hours of language enrichment, in addition the 20 resisters received 4 hours of alphabet instruction and 4 hours of building cvc words.

Children’s Multimodal Authoring
Presented by Angela Thomas

Currently I am half way through an ARC (Australian Research Council) project, which I am working on with Professor Len Unsworth from the University of New England, and Linkage partner, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. Our project is titled “Teaching effective 3D authoring in the middle years: multimedia grammatical design and multimedia authoring pedagogy”. Aims of the project include: 1) To provide an account of children’s innovative, transformative and critical multimodal stories; and 2) To develop a transformative pedagogy for multimedia authoring, with the teaching of explicit multimodal metalanguage. In this presentation I will showcase some of the teaching materials developed in collaboration with the ACTF and ABC, present some of the data collected to date and discuss the mode of analysing the data.

Game On 2.0 Talk

I’ll be presenting a public lecture on education and virtual worlds as part of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s Game On 2.0 speaker series. Come along if you’re in town :)

UPDATE: Here is a newspaper article related to my public lecture:

Augmented Reality: Storytelling will never be the same again!

I am really excited to discover that the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in Australia is actually just a few minutes walk from my office at UTAS!!

Here’s a description of its function:

HITLab AU brings virtual/mixed reality technologies to the Launceston campuses with a focus on design, visualisation, simulation and games. A key development will be collaborative teaching and research programs with schools and disciplines including Computing & Information Systems, Architecture & Design, Visual & Performing Arts, Human Life Sciences, Nursing, Education, Human Movement, and the Australian Maritime College.

I am very keen to develop some kind of collaboration with the HITLab and to learn about the kinds of projects already underway. I’ve been interested in Augmented Reality and where it could be going as far as education is concerned for a while now. Here is a video demonstrating simple applications:

I want one of those iMagic books!!
I would very much like to research how augmented reality affects reading. I sense another research project coming on!!

Images of Caliban

I’m loving working with a group of secondary English education students this semester and tomorrow’s workshop will be explorations of The Tempest. We’ll be doing some close readings of selections of text, some dramatic work, and a range of experiences to encourage visual, aural and kinesthetic interpretations of text. One of the tasks will be to create images of Caliban and make notes on the kinds of decisions that might be made with Caliban’s costume and make-up for a production of the play. Students have to consider Trincolo’s speech as he mocks Caliban:


What have we here?

a man or a fish? dead or alive?

A fish: he smells like a fish; a very ancient and

fish-like smell; a kind of not of the newest Poor-

John. A strange fish! Were I in England now,

as once I was, and had but this fish painted,

not a holiday fool there but would give a piece

of silver: there would this monster make a

man; any strange beast there makes a man:

when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame

beggar, they will lazy out ten to see a dead

Indian. Legged like a man and his fins like

arms! Warm o’ my troth! I do now let loose

my opinion; hold it no longer: this is no fish,

but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a


To this end, I have gathered a few of my favourite images of the character:

New Media Consortium 2010 Summer Conference

I am excited to announce that I will be running a portion of the 2010 NMC conference! I will be running a sub-sub-theme on Digital Literacies, and was granted funding from the Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy to collaborate with some of my favourite colleagues on this theme as follows:

Focus: Are informal activities like video games, social websites and virtual worlds suited for learning at school? From broad, nation-wide surveys and research reports to microanlayses of single texts, this full day workshop and follow-up special issue of Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy will showcase the discursive, social and literacy practices of young people as they engage informally in online spaces, and provide analytical evidence of the kinds of learning that actually occurs. It will also capture the ways some schools across three countries (Australia, United Kingdom and the United States of America) are attempting to leverage this informal learning into formal classroom contexts, and report on the issues and attitudes which have impacted upon learning, Finally it will draw from media practitioners who will offer advice for best practice as we consider the future of education and the ways educators might best prepare young people for successful social futures.


Dr Angela Thomas (University of Sydney, Australia)

Dr Ilaria Vanni (University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Professor Guy Merchant (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

Dr Julia Gillen (Lancaster University, UK)

Professor Barbara Guzzetti (Arizona State University, US)

Dr Kathryn Pole (Saint Louis University, US)

Ms Kaitlin Heller (Del Ray, Random House Inc. Publishing)

Ms Jessica Hammer (Teacher’s College, Columbia University, US)

Ms Gillian Andrews (Teacher’s College, Columbia University, US)

Ms Jenn Scott-Curwood (University of Wisconsin, US)

Ms Damiana Gibbons (University of Wisconsin, US)

The conference is being held in California, with the University of Southern California as this year’s host. It’s actually being held in the Disneyland hotel, so its amusing to see the expressions of my friends when I say I am being paid to go and hang out in Disneyland for a week :) So… come and join us there for a magical time!

DIY Media: Creating, Sharing and Learning with New Technologies

I have a book chapter in this hot-off-the-press book, co-authored with Nicole Tufano, called “Stop Motion Animation”. The description of the book (from is as follows:

Schools remain notorious for co-opting digital technologies to business as usual approaches to teaching new literacies. DIY Media addresses this issue head-on, and describes expansive and creative practices of digital literacy that are increasingly influential and popular in contexts beyond the school, and whose educational potential is not yet being tapped to any significant degree in classrooms. This book is very much concerned with engaging students in do-it-yourself digitally mediated meaning-making practices. As such, it is organized around three broad areas of digital media: moving media, still media, and audio media. Specific DIY media practices addressed in the chapters include machinima, anime music videos, digital photography, podcasting, and music remixing. Each chapter opens with an overview of a specific DIY media practice, includes a practical how-to tutorial section, and closes with suggested applications for classroom settings. This collection will appeal not only to educators, but to anyone invested in better understandingand perhaps participating inthe significant shift towards everyday people producing their own digital media.

I had great fun researching my chapter, and speaking with a number of members of the online stop motion animation community, a number of youtubers who regularly posted SMA, and I even communicated with the Hollywood animation archives people. I also spoke with marvellous Martin Waller about his work with “orange class” at a Primary school in the UK.

I’d love to hear about any Tasmanian schools doing exciting things with new media in their classrooms!

Changing Directions

It has been forever since my last post, but today I have a special announcement – I am relocating to Tasmania! The move is really motivated by personal reasons but I am pleased to say I have an exciting new position at the University of Tasmania which I’ll be starting in March. The University of Tasmania, or UTAS, is where I started my career, and I’m looking forward to returning and to working with some of my favourite colleagues and old friends once again. Once I am settled I hope to get back to regular blogging once again! Stay tuned :)

Technology in Teaching: A Podcast with Chris Best and Angela Thomas


Hello there! Whilst in London, I spent an afternoon with Chris Best (a former student of mine who has been teaching there ever since he graduated, and who now produces a series of podcasts about technology in teaching). We did a podcast – quite informally – about what was happening in my world and why I was in London and the like. Here is a link to go to the podcast: I am “Episode 18″. Chris and I giggled a little as we were working out how to do the podcast, but we eventually settled down and discussed the state of our respective contexts and how our work needs to develop as teachers to account for new social and discursive practices of online communities.  Let me know if you have questions or comments!

“Chaos is a friend of mine” (Dylan)

Check out this workshop on social media! I like the interactive exercises embedded in it – like the “let’s make a virus” activity. I’ll be trying that some time, it’s very funny!

(I’ve been back from the UK and speaking and workshopping and podcasting and school visiting now for a few weeks but landed right back into another busy semester – hopefully regular blogging will resume soon)

The Remix as Transformative Storytelling

I’ve spoken a lot in my work before about fan fiction and the potential it has for transformative, subversive social and political commentary on narrative discourse and ‘D’iscourse. Above is a remix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight (with a little bit of Harry Potter thrown in for good measure) used to “hack” pop culture and make various tropes and discourses transparent. The creator explains:

In this remixed narrative, Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s an example of transformative storytelling serving as a visual critique of Edward’s character and generally creepy behavior. Seen through Buffy’s eyes some of the more patriarchal gender roles and sexist Hollywood tropes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed in hilarious ways.

I think this is very clever and I’m keen to use it with my students to illustrate aspects of digital culture and transformative works.

Proposing A Machinima Canon

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was being interviewed (by William) for the journal Transformative Works and Cultures. I was hunting through previous interviews to understand the expectations and genre for an interviewee when I came across a great interview with Paul Marino about Machinima. I liked the discussion of gender in particular. The last part of the interview is Paul outlining what he proposes a potential machinima canon, where he offers 6 examples that showcase historical and technically diverse films. One of them is the Snow Witch (2007).

This Japanese ghost story is adapted from Hearn’s “Yuki-Onna” (Kwaidan)

This one uses a known story and adapts it to machinima form.

Another of his 6 examples is The Photographer (2006).

A lone photographer is searching for his subject through the crowded city. Filmmaker Friedrich Kirschner mixes various media elements in his machinima, thus emphasizing that the medium not only can be devoid of game assets but also can break free of its commonly known framework.

I love this one because of its artistry, and because you don’t need to be an insider of the gaming culture to appreciate it.

Yet there are some Second Life machinima which I think I appreciate most of all (which don’t make Marino’s canon suggestions) precisely because I am an insider and I “get” the pathos or the humour at a much deeper level. Robbie Dingo’s Better Life (2006) is one I cite all the time:

and of course, I always mention the one in which I was the leading lady, Lip Flap (2006):

Lip Flap has had almost 10,000 views, The Snow Witch has had about 60,000, and Better Life has had about 80,000. Nothing really in comparison to the other machinima I quote a lot which has had over 1.6 million views (!), the first episode of Red vs Blue (2003):

What machinimas would you add to a proposed machinima canon?

Stop Motion Animation

I’ve been a huge fan of stop motion animation since I was little and didn’t even know what it was called – do you remember seeing the operatic orange on Sesame Street?

Later when I took photography as an optional course at University I worked with a friend and classmate to make two stop motion movies. One was a melodramatic soap opera of a banana sacrificing itself to become a banana smoothie and the other was using the giant chess pieces in a local park to create a love / war film noir-ish drama (just imagine the image below coming to life!). If only we’d had the resources and technology and sharing opportunities then that are available today!


I’ve been doing research on DIY / amateur / classroom practices around stop motion animation for a book chapter and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discovering all sorts of talented people (even 3 year olds!) participating and sharing their work. Some of the latest trends are amazing, awe-inspiring, exciting, and very clever. You’ll have to stay tuned for the publication details but here is a sneak preview of one I found just plain funny:

HUMlab Talk/Tour Video


Today I gave a tour of Macbeth for the HUMlab in Sweden! Click here if you’d like to view the video stream of the tour. It goes for about an hour. It was a bit of an experiment for us to do the live streaming, but it mostly worked well, except an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in which I lost my hair! Thanks to Jim Barrett for the invitation to speak and for doing all the camera work.

Music and Sound as a Stimulus for Poetry

For my poetry class today we’re looking at all different kinds of starting points for stimulating poetry writing in the classroom. Here are some musical themes which could be used to evoke imagery and promote the poetic.




and here is a clip or two containing some interesting sounds:

HUMlab Seminar


For my Swedish colleagues at HUMlab, Umea University, I am giving a seminar on May 8th! See details below:

Seminarium om Macbeth och virtuella världar – i HUMlab och i Second Life

Angela Thomas från University of Sydney kommer den 8 maj kl 11 att tala om “Inside the mind of Macbeth: Understanding and interpreting literary worlds in a virtual environment” i HUMlab. Tillsammans med studenter har hon arbetat med en omfattande gestaltning av Macbeth i en virtuell värld inom ramen för det uppmärksammade Virtual Macbeth-projektet.

Thomas genomför seminariet i Second Life (ifrån Australien) och kommer där att visa upp det virtuella Macbeth. Allt detta visas på stor skärm i HUMlab inför seminariedeltagarna i labbet. Angela Thomas är bland annat känd för sin bok Youth Online: Identity and Literacy in the Digital Age (Peter Lang, 2007).

Red / Wild – Art in SL by AM Radio

Which way up?

Again, thanks to Corwin, I visited a new art installation by AM Radio. The info details about the work include the following notecard:

AM Radio’s The Red and The Wild

IDIA is pleased to host artist AM Radio as the inaugural artist-in-residence at IDIA Labs – an exhibtion and installation sim for virtual installation art and performance.

THE INSTITUTE FOR DIGITAL INTERMEDIA ARTS is a hybrid art and design studio established as part of the Center for Media Design at Ball State University and funded the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The institute is an interdisciplinary research and design environment that explores the intersections between arts and technology. Students, faculty, staff and industry partners engage the discourse of emergent media design on projects employing virtual reality, visualization, simulation and human computer interface in this project-based immersive learning center.

As always, AM Radio enjoys exploiting the SL space and creating art that is on the one hand familiar, yet on the other hand is very surreal. Here is another photo:

Am Radio's Red / Wild

Corwin has been teaching a virtual photography group and taught me how to make a wireframe view today, so here’s another photo from the installation, this time converted to wireframe -

AM Radio's The Red / WIld

Second Life offers so much potential for creativity, and I’m always learning and experiencing new examples of that. Thanks Corwin!


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