In the winter term 2020/2021, Prof. Roberta Maierhofer taught together with Nicole Haring and Dagmar Wallenstorfer from the Narrative Didactics research group two seminars that combined US-American literary and cultural studies with digital storytelling. The seminars with the titles “Specialized Topics in Anglophone Literary Studies (Media and Messages: Digital and Other Storytelling” and “Topics in American Cultural Studies (Art and Artificiality: Mediated Realities)” discussed storytelling in context of digitalization and addressed how cultural representations reflect material realities. Special focus was on how lives and interpretations of these are narrated and the different forms storytelling can take. The courses offered an understanding of the concept of storytelling as cultural and aesthetics expressions of a certain time and place. The students engaged with theoretical as well as literary texts by Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, as well as with the film maker Agnés Varda. It was the aim of the courses to critically engage with the question of intersectionality, identity, and voice. Eventually, the students created Digital Stories, which were watched in an online watch party. Based on theses digital narratives, the students wrote seminar papers and thus not only created and watched Digital Stories, but also interpreted them in a scholarly manner.
The DigLit project provides a means for ESL/EFL teachers to share and embed innovative teaching practices to enhance awareness of social inequalities, diversity, and equality through the usage of young adult literature in combination with popular smart phones app. At the same time, it will increase pupils’ cultural and equality awareness which will eventually influence their critical thinking, as well as their social and civic competences. DigLit will also support digital competences for teacher and pupils, specifically in times of Covid-19. DigLit involves the collection and uploading of media files on the project website dealing with young adult literature as well as a freely available collection of young adult literature that discusses aspects of diversity and equality by featuring marginalized groups. These media files will derive from the usage of popular apps on smartphones and will center the pupils’ narratives. This collection will act as a platform for diversity and equality awareness and digital upskilling. Teachers will be trained in the use of digital media in combination with young adult literature and pupils will conduct and lead on their collection and editing. The DigLit project is driven by the principle that innovative teaching resources form part of broader pedagogic strategies that can actively help tackle issues of social inequality. It facilitates action that address issues of diversity and equality common across the EU as declared in the Paris Declaration from 2015. The importance of enhancing social, civic, and intercultural competences, critical thinking and media literacy as well as fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young adults were at the heart of the Paris Declaration and DigLit’s aim and objectives are closely aligned with many of the recommendations made in the declaration.
With a network of teachers, education academics, students, and technicians, the main objective is to create an online digital toolkit (DigLit Toolkit) for the ESL/EFL classroom that uses young adult literature in combination with popular smartphone apps to combat social inequalities.
The project proposes also four sub-objectives:
Obj. 1: Developing ESL/EFL methodologies to support school use of the DigLit Toolbox integrated in the curriculums
Obj. 2: Creating a Pupil Guide to facilitate the application of the toolkit
Obj. 3: Producing a collection of Young Adult Literature for ESL/EFL available on the website
Obj. 4: Producing a collection of media files to use in school and community settings
DigLit seeks to bring the participating organizations together to develop and share practices in order to produce resources that other schools can use free of charge. This will enable teachers across Europe to develop a shared understanding of the key issue which is crucial in the current Covid-19 situation. The toolkit will provide a meaningful resource in times of crises that critically engages with the aspects of social inequality and at the same time tackles them by using smartphones instead of other technological devices that might not be available for every pupil. The Consortium consists of 6 partners, bringing together a balanced mix of high educational institutions and schools from Austria, Italy, and Hungary. All have expertise in the development of skills for education with the aim of creating intercultural and digital learning for pupils in European schools. Coming from different European regions and sharing already a strong strength due to previous collaborations, they make a varied and committed Consortium.
DigLit will have three key impacts:
1) Participants will be encouraged to reappraise their attitudes towards diversity and equality. Marginalized voices in the literature used in the project will enable them to reassess prejudice, re-calibrate their views and attitudes towards minority groups and re-educate them in diversity and equality matters.
2) The participants will be provided with an additional approach in the form of a digital toolkit to teaching literature in the ESL/EFL classroom through the use of smartphones. This developed approach will expand the participant’s understanding of teaching literature in the EFL/ESL classroom and will specifically impact their remote teaching skills.
3) DigLit is an outreach tool. It enables students to represent their livelihood by using popular smart phone Apps such as TikTok and Snapchat. The familiarity of these technological applications will encourage them to participate in the project and to share their personal narratives.
Narrative Didactics Research Group has successfully co-conducted the workshop "Interaktive Lehrsequenzen gestalten" (transl.: shaping interactive teaching sequences) as part of the "Didaktik-Werkstatt 2020". Every year Science Space Styria organizes this series of courses for higher education.
Due to popular demand the workshop "Interaktive Lehrsequenzen gestalten" was held three times (17.11., 18.11., 25.11.2020). One part of this workshop was conducted by Andreas Schuch, who introduced the practice of educational digital storytelling. Workshop participants successfully created their first digital stories, a selection of which were published here and on YouTube with explicit consent.
On 14 December 2020, Andreas Schuch conducted the virtual teacher training seminar Democracy 3 – Game-based learning und 21st century skills as part of the College of Teacher Education Styria teacher training program for the winter semester 2020/21.
In this training seminar, Andreas Schuch introduced teachers to the government simulation Democracy 3 by Positech Games and showed ways of integrating the game in various teaching contexts on the secondary educational level. The seminar addressed not only how teachers can use Democracy 3 to explore specific topics and develop competences, but also how this game-based teaching approach can help develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving abilities and information literacy in motivating and authentic ways.
Please contact us at for workshop or training course inquiries at your school, college or university regarding Democracy 3 and game-based learning approaches in general. Workshops can be held in presence or virtually.
- Democracy 3 training course description (German): https://www.ph-online.ac.at/phst/wbLv.wbShowLVDetail?pStpSpNr=325288&pSpracheNr=1
- Official Democracy 3 website: http://positech.co.uk/democracy3/
- Further publication by Andreas Schuch on game-based learning:
Schuch, Andreas (2017). “Digital Games as a Means of Raising Awareness About Ageism and Gender Discrimination: Three Principles for Teachers and Game Developers”. In M. Romero, K. Sawchuk, J. Blat, S. Sayago & H. Ouellet (Eds.), Game-Based Learning Across the Lifespan: Cross-Generational and Age-Oriented Topics. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41797-4_9. 131–150.
Welcome to the official website of the research group Narrative Didactics!
The website is still under construction and new content will be added in the coming months.