5. Literacy learning in e-learning contexts

Preview of Shackleton Movies made by Year 7 & 8 students from Otaki College. To see the full movies go Movie Page

What does literacy learning look like in e-learning contexts?

This page documents the revisiting of a project completed in 2009 as a CORE eFellow.

The focus of the current project is to:

  • see where the Four Resources Model of Literacy was represented in student's learning, and

  • what were the literacy benefits that occurred when learning with ICT was a key component ?

Learning context

Students identify the deliberate acts of leadership as demonstrated by Sir Ernest Shackleton in his Antarctic expedition
eLearning Context

Year 7 & 8 Students using a range of ICT tools to research, create and present a movie to a viewing audience
The eLearning environment when exploring leadership decisions enabled students to:

  • work collaboratively
  • recognise and explain good leadership decisions
  • have a reason to be literate
  • want to reach the next step in their work
  • have a purpose to be present in class
  • enjoy success
ICTs employed were:
  • Computers for research, film making, sourcing support material for film production
  • A variety of film footage that included youtube for examples of animation and how to instructions, documentaries, South - the original footage from Frank Worsley 1919(black and white), Shackleton (2002)
  • I can animate (Kudlian Software Ltd, 2005-2008)
  • Blendr - open source 3D
  • iMovie
  • Audacity - voice
  • Video Camera
  • Comic Life – for student support workbook created by teacher

Table showing links to the Four Resources Model of Literacy


Sub sets
Code Breaker - How do I break this code?

eLearning Context


Compiling scenes for filming
Planning and filming scenes
Student created scenes show elements of a variety of shooting angles, scene transitions, sound effects and language reflective of the era
Students discussing, critiquing and refilming scenes that did not tell the story as they wished

Students endured the music of the 1900s played as a background to the subtitled 1919 film. The students later surprised me that with no input from me they deliberately chose background music for their own films that was reflective of the era.

Students referred back to the film for the language used in the films so their choice was fitting for the characters.
The language of 3D animation
Students creating 3D scene for movie
All students in group active participants who can explain process
An expert Year 8 student in the use of the Mac computer programmes who had also worked with Blendr, partnered with an able Year 7 student. On request from the teacher he also worked with a behaviourally challenging student who struggled in all aspects of learning. Through the ‘wow’ factor of what was being produced, the challenging student was soon able to demonstrate to the teacher and others how to create simple 3D objects. He revelled in his new skill and enjoyed explaining to others how it was done, he responded confidently in the technical terms that he had learnt from the Year 8 student and read his part of the script so that he could be a full member of the production.
The Year 8 student also gained from the partnership. Oral language was a challenge for him and in having to explain and support the other two students he gained confidence
Visual text
Using an image to give information or tell a story
Students’ scenes present a clear message to an audience
Students developed and arranged visual images to support their messages of Shackleton’s leadership. Backdrops and props were created that reflected the environment endured by the crew.
Sub sets
Text Participant - What does this mean to me?

eLearning Context


Take notes from films

South- the original footage from Frank Worsley 1919(black and white)

Shackleton 2002
Students finding examples of Shackleton’s deliberate acts of leadership
Most students took an active part as a viewing audience. They discussed key actions in the movie and recorded short notes to act as prompts later.

Five boys actively disengaged from both films and made a point of not being interested. Later, the need to complete steps in preparation for Claymation saw these students asking if they could view the scenes in the movie that they had missed and taking great delight in being seen to be “researching” the movie for the information they needed. Through the process of film making full engagement was needed to progress and the hook was the Claymation process. Later filming and sound recording continued to support the reluctant workers' interest.
Storyline structure of film segments
Scene allocation and research
Students reading, researching and continually referring back to text that outlined their scenes
You wouldn’t want to be a Polar Explorer by Jen Green (Franklin Watts, 2001)
This book was used to organise the sections of Shackleton’s leadership story that groups were responsible for.

Students constantly reread their sections in order to plan their films. Struggling readers also found the format of the writing supportive. At one point, when problems with their script development occurred, the students’ response was to leap up to the wall where their pages of the book were pinned in order to once again reread as a group what it was they were working on.
Movie Making
Record an animated scene of a documentary story using claymation

Applied to clay animators
Students using global information and sequencing
To create an animation using plasticine models, students needed to reread, understand and reorganise their script.

Scripts needed to be read carefully with students making notes to know at what points a plasticine model was entire and at what point it needed to be cut e.g. a penguin entering the water needed to be used later in the script as an entire bird.

Students needed to identify these reversals of action and plan the order of filming scenes.

Students used text to support their process often in non traditional ways for low readers/readers.
Sub sets
Text User - What do I do with this text?

eLearning Context


Script Writing
Writing a script based on research
Students gathering evidence from text
Non-fiction book and internet research was used to varying degrees of success depending on the reading levels of the students involved. However, all students were able to glean information from what they were reading or viewing supported by their initial gaining of background knowledge from viewing the films.

Students could relate complicated ideas and words back to the context of the films.
Researching and recording
Reading, viewing and writing
Students engaged text users
How did you feel about using technology in your learning about Shackleton?
“Technology has immense benefits in a classroom setting, it gives us a new view on the topic, lets us do lots of research, and even if its just gives the class a break from writing it can help break up a time of non-inspiration.” Year 10 student reflecting on 2009 project work
Genre choice
Students select the film genre – 3D, animation, claymation, acting
Engaged in the process and the message is clearly delivered
Students who manipulated materials such as plasticine, made models or used the computer in the 3D group were more successful in all aspects of the project than the group who chose to act.
The modelling of materials focussed even the most off task of students and at the end of a session they could see physical progress.
The actors on the other hand found it difficult to disassociate their personal feelings about their own ability and confidence in appearing on camera. They went back to the start of the process far more than any other group. They were also less satisfied with the end product.
The use of materials depersonalised the process to allow less confident students to be happy to do voice-overs and to take ownership of the product.
Using and manipulating a range of ICT for a range of purposes
Students engaged and completing research, creative and presenting targets
Students liked to use a variety of technology in their learning. They enjoyed becoming more proficient users and particularly showed satisfaction when they were deemed the expert and shared their skill with others. They liked to be in control of the ICT device be it microphone, computer mouse, camera or Video player.

“It was great to be given some freedom, as not everyone has the same skills/interest in each medium. The freedom likely gave us extra incentive to work, as it was our work in a sense, we chose it and we were going to work at it.”

“I would like to use it far more. Computers and the internet is an amazing asset to anyone who is wanting to learn more, the research possibilities are endless. The wide array of technology available lets teachers choose what fits the current project and then utilize it effectively to promote learning/teaching.” Year 10 student answering the question, “Would you like to use technology more in your learning and if so, in what ways?”
Viewing and parent support
Students present their work to an audience
Students bring their family to a movie premiere
Students prepared a premiere evening for their parents presenting artwork and their movies in an evening event.

Students saw their movie presented on the big screen and received much praise from their parents.

The students also practised manaakitanga in hosting their whanau and visiting VIPs.
Students have their own copy of their work
DVDs made for students
Students were given a copy of the DVD.
Speaking to a student two years on, who is struggling to stay at school because of challenges around behaviour, I commented about the work he had done on the film. He surprised me by talking about Shackleton and saying“I still play the DVD” stating he enjoys watching what he had made and talked to me about some of the key Shackleton moments.

Sub sets
Text Analyst - What does this text do for me, should I use it?

eLearning Context


What were the deliberate actions of leadership that were made by Shackleton?
Identifying the key leadership traits of Shackleton
Viewing, discussing and presenting actions made by the Shackleton to lead to identification of his role as a leader
Discussing and looking at the scenes in the films repeatedly to see deeper than the surface responses of crew, actions of Shackleton and the challenges of the environment. To then identify the importance of the messages to see what was really happening in supporting Shackleton’s status as one of history’s great leaders.

How do you think using the technology helped / did not help you and your group members learn about Shackleton?
“Our project relied on it, doing 3d animation. I found that if I was using a bit of technology I would absorb a little information here and there, even if I wasn't thinking about Shackleton while learning to use something.
As the project continued I think people retained a lot, I'm pretty sure a few of the groups filming will still remember what the scene they filmed was, and how it effected Shackleton's life.” Year 10 student reflecting on project completed as a Year 8
Reflection and reworking of footage
Films are of a high quality
Students critically viewed their footage and reworked scenes, sound quality and the messages of the film.