iTell rewards

by | Apr 17, 2014 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Call for applications for ALIA research awards is now open. This post is a reflection from a previous Award recipient.
Suzana Sukovic
Photograph ‘iTell reflection’ by Hannah Berekoven
A study trip to Europe was one of my highlights last year
thanks to the ALIA Research Award. I received it for the project entitled iTell: digital storytelling@National Year of
The project started at the beginning of the National Year of
Reading when I decided to investigate issues of writing and reading in a
digital era while giving students at the school where I work an opportunity to try
something new. This is how iTell was
born. Transliteracy and digital storytelling were at the core of the project, and
as project developed, I felt I missed a connection with relevant communities of
practice. I applied for the ALIA Research Award proposing to travel to the
United Kingdom to meet with a few key people in areas of interest and attend DS8: Digital Storytelling Festival, hosted
by the University of Glamorgan’s George Ewart Evans Centre for
, in June 2013 in Cardiff. I was delighted when my
proposal was accepted in spring 2012 and the grant covered some project
expenses and a study trip, which would take me to a main DS event in the world. 

Between my grant application and the trip, iTell was going through some major
developments. Library staff were trained in digital storytelling and we provided
a few rounds of workshops to students at our school. I was interested in
experimenting with boundaries between reading and writing, so in iTell students worked with existing
stories to develop their own unique perspective based on their reading.
Although some students decided to work with their original writing, most based
their digital stories on books. During the workshops, I gathered data about their
engagement with learning, development of transliteracy skills and any impact on
students’ learning. By the time my study trip started, iTell was presented at several conferences and professional gatherings. After some ups and downs, it was a well established project, which
generated interesting data. At that time, I was curious how experiences with
the project fit with developments elsewhere.

My study trip started in June 2013 with a whole day seminar at
the British Library and an opportunity to catch up with colleagues I met in the
past. Later I traveled to Bath to meet with some members of the original PART
Group (Production and Research in Transliteracy), which initiated the concept
of transliteracy as we discuss in the LIS field today. Professor Sue Thomas,
the creator and leader of the Group, was very generous with her time and traveled
to Bath to meet with Prof Kate Pullinger, Australian Dr Donna Hancox and me. We
spent a few hours talking about transliteracy, multimedia and research
interests. To this day, I cherish the opportunity to learn about the development
of transliteracy from its originators. 

DS8 conference dinner
DS8 in Cardiff was the final destination of my study trip
where I found a very diverse crowd of media producers – from community and
health workers to political activists and academics – coming from Japan, Egypt,
Norway and, mainly, from the UK. I was a bit of an unsual presence there as the
only person from Australia and LIS sector. My paper iTell: digital stories for creative readers was presented in the
panel session
Digital Storytelling inEducation. After a day of thought provoking presentations, there was a
conference dinner with a difference. I thought I knew what conference dinners
were about, but here we were in a room with a bar, listening to impromptu
storytelling, some even in musical forms. I left lovely people of Cardiff,
bilingual signs and chilly Welsh winds with some heart-warming memories.

Months later in Sydney I am still feeling benefits of my
study trip. Unlike academics who tend to travel to international conferences,
this experience was a privilege for a profession-based researcher. Not only
that I learnt interesting things, but experiences I had are a constant
reference point and a confidence-builder in my work. At times when I am unsure
how to tackle questions of my branching involvement with transliteracy, I rely
on Susan Thomas’s voice in my mind telling me that there aren’t any ready
answers. When I wonder about a reflective space digital storytelling opens for
our students, I remember numerous examples of how digital stories are used for
healing with prisoners and victims of trauma. A sense that my approach to
digital storytelling through reading has a potential for further exploration is now based on
confirmations from a digital storytelling community. A freshening effect of
chilly summer rains in foreign lands, far away from a
daily grind, shouldn’t be underestimated either.

A new round of proposals for ALIA research awards is now open.
I would strongly encourage all of you interested in research to send a proposal
and see where it will take you.

Come to the next LARK meeting on 1 May if you wish to talk with
experienced researchers and get some advice from members of the ALIA Research


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