A recent survey of more than 500 district technology directors around the United States says teachers are leading the adoption of web 2.0 rather than the students, the “digital natives,” themselves.

“The research indicates that the movement toward Web 2.0 use to engage students and address individual learning needs is largely being driven in districts from the bottom up–starting with teachers and students,” said Jay Sivin-Kachala, vice president and lead researcher for IESD, in a statement released Monday. “Furthermore, the results show that many districts are using or planning to use Web 2.0 tools in teacher professional development, which suggests that teachers will become increasingly comfortable with these technologies and better able to teach students how to use them safely and productively.”

Angela Thomas, a senior lecturer in English and Arts Education at the University of Sydney, is one example of an educator bringing technology into her classrooms. Not only is Angela sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for a burgeoning field of multimodal narratives and virtual worlds in education, but Angela is also helping students how to use that very technology.

During a recent session of her “Certificate of Digital Literacies,” Angela used Inanimate Alice as an example of a new media narrative which enables various levels of critical study. According to Thomas:

Inanimate Alice provides a great starting point for pointing out to teachers an exemplary form of Digital Fiction. It progressively uses more complex features related to what I’ve termed (Thomas, 2005) as the affordances of digital fiction: multimodality, multiliteracies, hypertext, interactivity, spatiality, and identity. For English teachers who are not adept with technology it provides a wonderful introduction to new forms of narrative, yet the developing sophistication makes it richly layered with features that can be discussed, debated, analysed and interpreted by e-literature theorists. Pragmatically, it is something that every single teacher I work with can leave my workshop and go back and use it in some way in their classrooms. It has connected with all of my students at some level, whether they teach year 2 or year 12. It is very difficult to find such rich examples that are suitable for use in the classroom context and that have a universal appeal. More recently, the encouragement for teachers and their students to remix or mashup the story allows for a much higher level of participation within and around the narrative of Alice’s journey, and its clear that the authors are genuinely pushing boundaries and shaping new narrative possibilities – true artists of new media authoring.

Thomas, A. (2005). Positioning the Reader: The Affordances of Digital Fiction. For: Reading the Past, Writing the Future. Brisbane, Queensland Council for Adult Literacy Inc. pp.24-33.

Thanks in part to our tweeted conversation, Angela also agreed to take photos of her group tweetbusy at work interacting/reading Inanimate Alice. Take a look at some of the wonderful images that Angela has kindly uploaded to Flickr. Doesn’t this just make you want to try digital fiction? (And yes, Angela has a pretty decent computer set-up!). Do read Angela’s blog posts about this session too.