A compelling aspect of exploring digital literature is that, at its heart, lies the appeal of good old-fashioned storytelling. Humans are storytelling creatures. We have been for thousands upon thousands of years, predating the advent of writing. Stories helped our ancestors pass on knowledge, share history, and create meaning in a world of randomness and chaos (Delistraty, 2014). A human brain responds uniquely to a good story, the cortex lighting up as if the events or descriptions in a book were really happening. Stories are a fundamental human communication method (Widrich, 2012).

What is eminently exciting is that we are living in a time where the ways to tell a good story are expanding. Authors are no longer confined to the written word, on pages, tucked away in physical books. The rapid expansion and ongoing convergence of media forms has given us the tools to tell stories in new ways: transmedia mashups of sound, word, and video, interactive reading experiences, nonlinear pathways through texts, hyperlinking, participatory and social reading experiences, and emergent narratives shaped by the user. Although many offer suggestions (Unsworth, 2006; Lamb, 2011), these digital stories are becoming increasingly hard to categorise as forms intertwine in creative and unique ways (as discussed in this reflective blog post).

Making these developments even more revolutionary is the fact that these tools of authorship and creation are available to anyone with a device or internet connection. Authorship is democratising – anyone can be a storyteller, have an authentic audience and a meaningful voice on a world stage (Richards, 2010). This is particularly useful when considering narrative creation as a teacher; putting digital authorship tools in the hands of students, letting them create rather than only consume, is a powerful pedagogical imperative (Tapscott & Williams, 2008). The value of leveraging digital storytelling in education is strong, as it allows students to explore their inner voice, create meaning for themselves, and then share their experiences and perspectives with a wider community (Rosenthal, 2015). This can be a platform for transformative, meaningful learning allowing students multiple means of representation, engagement, and expression.

It’s important for teachers and other stakeholders to understand though, that digital literature and the tools to create digital literature should not be considered as the only option – that all reading and story creation needs to be solely digital. It’s not a case of digital OR physical, it’s a case of digital AND physical. Students need a balanced mix of media and mediums, one which a skilled teacher can traverse and draw out the unique intricacies, the pros and cons, of each (Sadokierski, 2013). The role of the teacher is to manage this pedagogical mix (as discussed in this reflective blog post).

Because there are differences here. While the message remains the same (“a good story is a good story”, as I mentioned in the Module 1.2 discussion forum) the medium it comes wrapped in requires proficiency with different literacies in order to unpack the semiotic resources entangled within the artefact (Walsh, 2013). Traditional reading literacy revolved around the decoding of text, but if we expand our notions of what reading is (and should be): “Reading is the process of constructing meaning from symbols”, we can expand reading literacy to the comprehension of visual elements, layout, sound, navigation, interactive elements, participatory networks, and even gameplay design and mechanics (Leu et al, 2011; Walsh, 2013).

Many have claimed that the partial move to digital-based stories are diluting the experience of reading – that there are too many distractions and so children (in particular) lose the hermeneutic immersion required for deep reading (James & de Kock, 2013). They are not wrong. There are many examples of digital stories which are low-quality, don’t offer the opportunity for adaptation or feedback, accessibility or usability restrictions, or contain a poor “goodness of fit” between their designed elements (Roskos et al, 2014). It’s important to also consider physical issues such as eye-strain on longer stretches of screen-based reading (Huang, 2012) and the technical limitations of going digital such as battery, internet connection, licensing, purchasing, and equitable access.

These are not reasons to avoid digital literature, though. They are considerations for teachers to face, to understand the variables, and to plan and implement carefully and with a pedagogical purpose (“complexity and all”, as I mentioned in the Module 2.3 discussion forum). Quality digital literature needs to be selected and evaluated and aligned with learning outcomes. This is often tricky in the overly curated app stores and when considering budget, DRM, and licensing issues. Alternative means of sourcing digital texts exist however via public domain, creative commons, and free for personal use literature. 

In summation, literature in digital environments contains much potential – both in the reading and the creating – for students: the amplification of voice, the connection of readers to one another, sharing perspectives and opinions, creation over consumption, developing skills and transmedia literacies, and simply enjoying the eternal joy of reading a good story. Knowledgeable teachers will be able to evaluate digital literature with a “teacherly eye”, consider it’s uniqueness, and embed it within units and learning at school effectively (an example of this can be seen in this blog post).



Delistraty, C. 2014. The Psychological Comforts of Storytelling. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-psychological-comforts-of-storytelling/381964/

Huang, H. (2012). E-reading and e-discussion: EFL learners’ perceptions of an e-book reading program. Computer assisted language learning, 26(3).

James, R. & de Kock, L. (2013). The digital David and the Gutenberg Goliath: The rise of the ‘enhanced’ e-book, English Academy Review: Southern African Journal of English Studies, 30(1).

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.

Leu, D.J. et al (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1).

Richards, R. (2010). Digital citizenship and Web 2.0 tools. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 516-522.

Rosenthal, S.T. (2015). Digital storytelling: What it is… and… what it is NOT. Retrieved from http://langwitches.org/blog/2015/08/18/digital-storytelling-what-it-is-and-what-it-is-not

Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Yi Shang, Gray, E. (2014). Young children’s engagement with e-books at school: Does device matter? SAGE Open, 4(1).

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything. Penguin.

Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Taylor & Francis.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Widrich, 7. 2012. The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/5965703/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains

The Beep Moot is a digital story about a family and the apps they use (or more correctly, about the apps which use them). The family likes to get out and about: play sport, eat fish and chips, go to the supermarket, and out for bush walks. Butting into these family moments, however, are a bunch of intrusive interrupters – the beeping and buzzing sounds of Mum and Dad’s app notifications drawing attention away from “the stuff which makes life bright.”

The digital story contends with our switched on, 24/7 connected society – our need to get the latest news, update, or comment pushed to our phones the moment it occurs, and the effect this is having on special moments and interactions in real life. It’s about how our abundant access to information through technology offers the potential for distraction if not managed correctly (Felt & Robb, 2016).

At the international school I currently teach at students begin a 1:1 MacBook programme in Grade 5 and many students begin to get smartphones a lot earlier. It’s a time when students begin to build patterns of technology usage, for better or worse, and a time when many parents begin struggling with technology usage, norms, and rules with their children at home. The Beep Moot was written and designed with this need in mind. So while Grade four and five students are the primary intended audience, parents, and the wider school community are considered here too.

The Beep Moot has the intended purpose of encouraging students (and parents) to consider and reflect – that through reading about this particular family and their struggles with technology interruption they will be able to consider their own technology usage patterns, the effect this can have on people around them, and how to gain a healthy balance and equilibrium.

As an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school, learning experiences revolve around enhancing conceptual understandings of big, thematic central ideas. One such central idea which Grade 4 and 5 students explore is “A Digital Citizen is aware of the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living and learning in an interconnected digital world.” Students explore the key concepts of Form – what is a digital citizen, and Responsibility – what responsibility do I have, to myself and others, to enact effective digital citizenship. The Beep Moot will integrate into this unit of inquiry as a reading resource for students and teachers to unpack and tease out the variables together (Guernsey, 2011), exploring the subject area of digital citizenship and the Learner Profile elements of Balanced and Reflective (International Baccalaureate Organisation, 2013).

The Beep Moot was written and designed not only with these curriculum needs in mind but also the particular learning needs of the students. Being an International School there is a diverse range of students from many different cultures and backgrounds with differing levels of English. In each class are native English speakers and “Phase 1” ESOL learners. For this reason, The Beep Moot contains a narration track as well as the written text which aids comprehension (Lamb, 2011). It contains bright images, recognisable social media icons, and speech placed at jaunty angles which builds non-textual understanding of the content. The story is not too long, contains situations and places which children will relate to, and humorous phrases and names of the apps.

The ability to tie the subject area, intended purpose, and audience needs together arose via the author, illustrator and designer being the same person. This is important to note, as many existing stories often get ported over to digital in ways, and with features, the original author might not have included; features which don’t have a goodness of fit, or can distract or impede the intended meaning of the story (Roskos et al. 2014).

The digital story has been published on YouTube. This allows a reader to mute the narration if they wish, pause on particular pages, and skip to certain pages. It also allows viewers to leave comments, extending the world of the story into a social network others can participate in and contribute to (Serafini, 2013) and share the story with other interested parties such as friends and family members. YouTube is a website and app available across all major device platforms and operating systems. The story is free to distribute, making it a valuable resource for children, parents, and community members.

The Beep Moot has been influenced by a number of interactive storytelling apps, namely those from developer Slap Happy Larry – The Artefacts, Hilda Bewildered, and Midnight Feast. These illustrated digital short stories can be enjoyed at a surface level, as a bit of entertaining fun, or examined in closer detail to reveal important ideas and messages. The same is true of The Beep Moot. Other influences are the Hairy MacLary series of digital storybook apps for their rhyming scheme, and the Dr Seuss series by Oceanhouse Media for their sense of whimsy and fun.

Check out The Beep Moot embedded below and please visit the YouTube page to add your thoughts and comments.


Felt, L. J. & Robb, M. B. (2016). Technology addiction: Concern, controversy, and finding balance. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.

Guernsey, L. (2011). Are ebooks any good? Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2011/06/books-media/ebooks/are-ebooks-any-good/#_

International Baccalaureate Organisation. (2013). IB Learner Profile. Retrieved from http://www.ibo.org/contentassets/fd82f70643ef4086b7d3f292cc214962/learner-profile-en.pdf

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.

Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Yi Shang, Gray, E. (2014). Young children’s engagement with e-books at school: Does device matter? SAGE Open, 4(1).

Serafini, F. (2013). Reading Workshop 2.0. Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404.

When does a book become an ebook? When does an ebook become an interactive storytelling app? When does an interactive storytelling app become a digital game? The reality is, its hard to tell a lot of the time. The ever growing confluence of media forms and literature has muddied the waters. Between every concrete example of one of the above literary categories exist a myriad vagaries: transmedia, no media, participatory, agentic, emergent, haptic. Storytelling is experiencing a revolution just as impactful as when moveable type changed the world (Cull, 2011) – a revolution reflective of the shifts evident in greater society where digital creativity is flourishing amid technological advancement, an increasingly participatory culture, and complex networks of information flow (Wheeler, 2015).


Are we losing something here though? There is something very calming, relaxing.. even homely, about sinking into a deep couch and reading chapter one of a Cracking Good Novel, feeling the spine under your fingers and hearing the papery wing flap of the pages turning. Scholars wonder the same thing – whether the bells and whistles of all this digital enhancement break the hermeneutic immersion necessary for deep, focused reading (James & de Kock, 2013; Gurnsey, 2011). The answer, again, is muddied. In many cases, a poorly designed ebook / interactive storytelling app without a goodness of fit between its visual, audio, and haptics will distract from the experience – but one which hits a sweet spot between those elements can indeed support the literacy learning and reading experience (Roskos et al. 2014). There are many, many examples of digital literature “out there” now, all falling somewhere on this spectrum of distracting to enhancing.


Kicking back with a good book...?

Kicking back with a good book…?


Personally, I’m very interested in comparing the experience of print literature versus that of a storytelling experience in a digital game, as I’m a big fan of both. Storytelling in games has been hit and miss over the years but in the past three of four, designers are finding their stride, understanding that when wrapped up in a rich story, games become much more engaging and appealing (Alderman, 2015). Many games available today offer “literacy experiences” (The Last of Us, Bastion, The Stanley Parable, Papers Please, Life is Strange, Mass Effect) the avant garde of which are using gameplay mechanics (control forms, decision making, customisation etc.) to tap into “the emotions of agency” of the player, deepening the connection to the story perhaps in a way that books and films cannot (Phillips, 2013). Digital games can make the player feel guilty, for example; the consequence of a poor choice. Games are also exploring the edges of emergent, reactive storytelling where decisions a player makes in game effects the story arc, the characters, and the environment around them.


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Comparing print and digital literacy experiences then, it seems digital storytelling, in its many forms, can indeed provide new and exciting ways to tell the stories we’ve always enjoyed. Research also indicates that students’ comprehension does not necessarily suffer, regardless of the format of text (Margolin et al., 2013) – what matters is the mindset a reader deploys. What schools, teachers, and parents need to contend with then is expanding the notions of what literature and reading is. There will always be classic, good old text-based books, but it’s also much more than that now in our digital environment, such as transmedia mashups of audio, written word, video, art, music, and gameplay. These are semiotic resources (Walsh, 2013); methods that authors and designers make meaning from. Reading should be thought of as the process of constructing meaning from symbols (Lamb, 2011) – so, reading any of these new digital formats can be accomplished via unpacking its semiotic resources, just as much as novel, a movie, or a piece of art. In today’s media saturated, convergent environment it’s more important than ever that students contend with these kinds of digital literature formats, these new literacy experiences, so they become armed with the tools to make sense of the mediasphere around them (Moorefield-Lang & Gavigan, 2012).


To walk the talk then, I’m currently planning a series of sessions with a Grade 4 class at school who are conducting a unit of inquiry on how “the values we have influence the choices we make.” Exploring the digital game Never Alone (discussed in more detail here) with these students will, I hope, help develop understandings of this concept. Initially, we will inquire into traditional Iñupiat culture via web research and key readings with the purpose of learning about traditional Iñupiat values. Jumping into the game next and learning about the challenge facing Nuna and Fox, students will record how the story and game design reflect the values of the Iñupiat. We will gather information across the mini-documentaries embedded in the game, the story plot, thematic and symbolic elements, and game design – working to read and interpret the semiotic resources available and in doing so, increase our understanding of the key concept (and enjoy a wonderful story).




Alderman, N. (2015). The first great works of digital literature are already being written. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/13/video-games-digital-storytelling-naomi-alderman


Cull, B. W. (2011). Reading revolutions: online digital text and implications for reading in academe. First Monday, 16(6). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3340/2985


Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.


Margolin, S.J., Driscoll, C., Toland, M.J., & Kegler, J.L. (2013). E-readers, computer screens or paper: does reading comprehension change across media platforms? Applied Cognitive Psycology, 27, 512-519.


Moorefield-Lang, H., & Gavigan, K. (2012). These aren’t your father’s: the new world of digital graphic novels. Knowledge Quest, 40(3), 30-35. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/docs/


Unsworth, L. (2006). E-literature for children: Enhancing digital literacy learning. Taylor & Francis.


Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/walsh-m3.pdf


Wheeler, S. (2015). Learning with ‘e’s. Crown House Publishing.

Sitting mysteriously in the centre of The Artifacts title screen is an open cardboard box. A reader might assume, at this stage, that the box is for “the artifacts” whatever they may be. Some kind of storage. As whimsical instrumentation plays in the background, a 19th/20th century musical box tune, you might be considering the contents of the box, or the other selectable options (sound effect toggle, narration, page selection, author information). Or your finger might touch the box, accidentally, or with curious intent, and discover that with each tap a different symbol floats upwards and out – currency, mathematical, Greek, and zodiac symbols. It hints at deeper, more complex themes, and it’s at this point that The Artifacts, an interactive storytelling app (Lamb, 2011) first released in 2012 by Lynley Stace (author and illustrator) and Dan Hare (programmer) of Slap Happy Larry, begins to weave its magic – and it’s much more than meets the eye.


The protagonist of the story is Asaf, a twelve, going on thirteen year old boy from suburbia who loves to collect all kinds of “bagatelles, baubles, gewgaws and gimmicks”. His parents don’t share his passion however, and one day after school, Asaf comes home and is greeted with an empty room, his precious things discarded carelessly and the family ships off to a new house where he is under strict conditions not to clutter his room anymore. The story content and its themes are quite sophisticated: the leaving behind of childish things, isolation, alienation, transition, and eventually a celebration of an active, creative mind. The illustrations range from lush and dreamy to stark and minimalist, depending on Asaf’s mood. Colour symbolism is used with effect throughout – warm colours in the beginning to cold greys and blues after Asaf moves house. There is much here for older readers to examine, unlock, and reflect on.


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While the style of writing is rather minimalist, the digital affordances present in The Artifacts serve the expression and imagery, evoking rich sensibilities and emotions, extending the story experience rather than derailing the act of reading (Guernsey, 2011). While the story is narrated in a flat Australian accent, endowing the story with a sense of sobriety, the real story here are the interactive, haptic elements of the pages. Readers tap, rub, lead, find, watch, tilt, and add to the rich illustrations as they traverse the story experience. Making precious artifacts appear, and keep appearing, more and more, until every spare scrap of room real estate is taken up really drives the idea home that Asaf loves his collections. Tapping into existence dialogue, particularly the forceful gone, gone, gone Asaf’s parents dole out, swiping the condensation from the mirror to reveal a reflective Asaf staring at himself, or collecting effervescent firefly thoughts in an empty lightbulb really deepen the connection a reader has with the story. Not all of these haptic enhancements are obvious – readers need to hunt for them, to test and try, giving the experience an exploratory quality which adds a more active, participatory dimension. The soundtrack, story, illustrations and haptic enhancements combine to create a temporal contiguity, with the effect of making the text more real and more meaningful (Roskos et al., 2014), particularly for younger readers.


Firefly thoughts coalesce and disperse, like all ideas do

Firefly thoughts coalesce and disperse, like all ideas do


The Artifacts is currently $2.99 (NZD) exclusively in Apple’s App Store, restricting the access of the story to particular devices and to schools with available budget. The main splash screen offers options to tailor the in-line experience, increasing usability and accessibility by toggling sound effects options and narration on or off, and allowing a page selection feature for non-linear navigation – important for readers who wish to retain agency over the reading experience (James & de Kock, 2013). In a noble tilt towards the over-commercialised state of similar children’s apps (easy links to in-app purchases, similar products etc), Slap Harry Larry state they will never advertise other products in their apps – that young readers deserve immersive reading experiences which don’t pull them away from the app and into the commercial side of the internet (Slap Happy Larry, 2016).


The iTunes description for The Artifacts states the interactive storytelling app is appropriate for ages four to twelve, and while on a surface level, certainly younger children will enjoy a funny story about a boy with a big imagination who likes collecting things, making caterpillars munch on leaves, little dogs bark, and shooing away shadows. In many respects though, The Artifacts is a mature exploration of teenage alienation, emotion, and transition, and would appeal to children much older, perhaps giving these older students permission to access their inner lives, imagination, and help them understand their place in the world (Conley, 2012). From the information menu on the front screen is linked a very helpful Teacher Notes document, which details thematic and symbolic meaning in the story, key questions teachers can pose students, and other post-reading activities. Alignment to the curriculum can be achieved at many different levels with a skilled teacher able to “tease out the variables” (Gurnsey, 2011).


The Artifacts is a versatile, high quality interactive story app which leverages the haptic and digital affordances of modern tablets to appeal as much to childish whimsy as to deeper themes of loss, alienation, and transition.




Conley, Susan (2012). The Power Of Story. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkqb6uDRNQs


Guernsey, L. (2011). Are ebooks any good? Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2011/06/books-media/ebooks/are-ebooks-any-good/#_


James, R. & de Kock, L. (2013). The digital David and the Gutenberg Goliath: The rise of the ‘enhanced’ e-book. English Academy Review: Southern African Journal of English Studies, 30(1).


Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.


Roskos, K., Burstein, K., Yi Shang, Gray, E. (2014). Young children’s engagement with e-books at school: Does device matter? SAGE Open, 4(1).


Slap Happy Larry. (2016). The Artifacts [website] Retrieved from http://www.slaphappylarry.com/story-apps/about-the-artifacts/

On August 15th, 2012, a six-wheeled remotely operated rover named Curiosity touched down on Mars. In “The Martian Diaries: What if the Curiosity rover kept a scrapbook?” authored and designed by ScienceNews, a non-profit organisation dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education, the Curiosity rover’s scientific discoveries are presented in a form of multimedia journalism and fictive “first person” accounts from Curiosity. The Martian Diaries are an example of a growing genre of immersive multimedia journalism, where non-fiction facts, first-person accounts, and news are presented in multimodal formats which are engaging readers in new experiences (Silvia & Anzur, 2011).


The Martian Diaries are a ‘scrapbook’ of entries chronicling the Curiosity rover’s work on Mars. While the story content is itself exciting and interesting – it presents scientific material on the forefront of human exploration and discovery – the real magic here is that the story unfolds via the Curiosity rover itself, endowed with an anthropomorphic, jaunty 21st Century colloquial voice. The language used is playful and memetic, couching the scientific jargon in an accessible, interesting form. The story of Curiosity unfolds much like that of a classic adventure story: Curiosity is scared at the start of the adventure, and people worry about it back home, but nevertheless it sets off on its epic journey towards the “tall and rough” Mount Sharp in the distance, numerous adventures and missteps between itself and the goal. Chronicle entries along the way expand on these adventures: detailing new finds (evidence of past water), problems (radiation levels), potential uses for the discoveries, detecting organics, and signs that Mars might be habitable. Curiosity remediates pop culture (Allen, 2001); song lyrics and phrases from classic novels along the way, creates new language (yestersol, rather than yesterday) and even bemoans the lack of an iPhone to take a good selfie. These elements make Curiosity relatable, creating an emotional attachment and engaging the reader in a scientific story which may have otherwise been presented as a sterile, technical report.


Curiosity rover sets off on the big adventure

Curiosity rover sets off on the big adventure


The digital affordances of the medium are well leveraged. Each entry contains a transmedia mixture of multimodal features: images taken from the Curiosity, panoramas, slideshows, videos, links to the official NASA press releases, maps, diagrams, computer generated predictions, and explanatory animated gifs. These serve to illustrate and extend the scientific concepts introduced in the accompanying story. Most significantly however, the Curiosity rover shows it is a skilled and literate member of online 21st Century life by having an active Twitter profile. As Curiosity was “doing cool science” on Mars, NASA was tweeting in real time as the rover, and select tweets are embedded in the beginning of each chronicle entry. The statistics on the tweets are astounding – some have over 8000 retweets and 5000 likes, showing the extent to which interested public participated in this first-person pseudo-narrative. Readers here are positioned not just as passive consumers but active participants in the journalism, co-creating the story as it emerges (Lorenzo, Oblinger, & Dziuban, 2007; Van Dijck, 2009). The Curiosity rover replied to tweets at the time and is in fact still tweeting, you can “follow” the account to catch updates, and read the replies of others to the Curiosity, discovering a deeper range of perspective and opinion (Serafini, 2013).



Curiosity tweets its landing, garnering nearly 65,000 retweets


The Martian Diaries is housed on an open-access website, so in terms of usability and accessibility all that’s required is an internet connection and a browser. No advertisements or distractions appear, which can often plague online reading (Liu, 2005). The chronicle entries consist of simple, centrally laid out elements which are easy to navigate. Upon loading a reader is greeted with a full-page image of the Curiosity rover looking at you with two quizzically mechanical eyes reminiscent of Pixar’s Wall-E; the design choice here immediately building empathy and relationship with the Curiosity character. A helpful menu floats at the top of the screen, staying in place as you scroll down from which you can select the different chronicle entries. This allows flexibility and a non-linear means of accessing the content if a reader wishes, an important feature to have available in digital environments (Liu, 2005).


In terms of alignment to the curriculum, The Martian Diaries could be used as an information resource if students are inquiring into explorations, technical advancement and robotics, human futures, or scientific concepts such as geology, radiation, atmosphere, molecules, chemicals, or minerals. More generally, The Martian Diaries is an example of immersive multimedia journalism, and could be explored and studied as an transmedia artifact (Lamb, 2011). Some key questions might be: how well does the integration of different multimodal elements work? What affordances does the Twitter integration create? How is the “scientific load” softened? How is reader given flexibility and choice?


Of course, overall, The Martian Diaries can be enjoyed for it’s own sake – as an exciting piece of multimedia journalism about discovery and exploration.




Allen, N. (2001). Telling our stories in new ways. Retrieved from http://williamwolff.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/allen-cc-2001-review.pdf


Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17.


Lorenzo, G., Oblinger, D., & Dziuban, C. (2007). How choice, co-creation, and culture are changing what it means to be net savvy. Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 6.


Serafini, F. (2013). Reading Workshop 2.0. Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404.


Silvia, T., & Anzur, T. (2011). Power performance: multimedia storytelling for journalism and public relations. John Wiley & Sons.


Van Dijck, J. (2009). Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content. Media, culture, and society, 31(1), 41.


Ziming Liu, (2005) Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years. Journal of Documentation, 61(6), 700 – 712.