The Digital Minority

A recent newspaper article, “Frykter mange barn kan bli digitale tapere”(Wernersen, 2014, April 28), refers to senior researcher, Petter Bae Brantzæg, who has found that there are great differences between schools in terms of digital competence. Researcher Stakstad, who is referred to in the same article, argues that there is reason to talk of a “digital minority” in Norway today, meaning students who are not exposed to digital technology in their spare-time, or at school. Erstad (2010) claims that it is the “teacher’s task to give the use of ICT a specific content based on own knowledge of the subject” (p. 138). This requires, however, skills and competence in using various digital genres didactically.



Erstad, O. (2010). Digital kompetanse i skolen (2 ed.). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Wernersen, C. (2014, April 28). Frykter mange barn kan bli digitale tapere. NRK.  Retrieved 21.05.2014, from

Carlsen vs Vattøy, 07.05.2014

On Wednesday, I had the honour of playing against Magnus Carlsen at NTNU. As many of you know, Magnus Carlsen is the reigning World Chess Champion. I was check mated after 44 moves. Watch the game here:



Obligatory Blog Posts

During the course of this spring term, I have enjoyed quite a lot of freedom of choice. However, there have been some obligatory blog posts that are required of me as a student to write. These include: 

1. “Electronic Portfolios: Collect, Select,Reflect” (Topic: Electronic Portfolios)

2. “Digital Storytelling in the Language Classroom” (Topic: Digital Storytelling)

The practical assignment connected to this post is shown here: “Digital Storytelling: My Project” 

3. “Multimodal Analysis: Deconstructing the semiotics of a power point presentation” (Topic: Multimodality)

A topic connected to multimodality, is hypertextuality. I have written a post about that here: “Hypertext: navigating through a web of links”

4. “Digital Bildung and Source Criticism” (Topic: Source Criticism).

Importantly, this post links to several posts on source criticism (My Wikipedia posts: “Wikipedia in the classroom” and “Wikipedia: follow up”). I forgot to link to “Digital Footprints in the sand?”  – a post that really can frighten one out of wits. This is linked to the notion of Digital Bildung.

Still, I deem many of the other posts as relevant to the general topic of Digital competence, and I hope you have enjoyed them.

So long,



Digital Bildung and Source Criticism

In previous posts I have discussed the role of Wikipedia in the classroom, and the need for critical digital competence. I have described from own experiences of Wikipedia use in the classroom, and found that the critical competence among many students is low. This competence is especially important for 21st century citizens living in a digital everyday. Krumsvik (2007, Jul. 8) calls for a focus on digital Bildung, and explains it as a digital life- and folk-wisdom. He urges students’ parents to involve themselves online in order to get a better sense of the students’ digital everyday.

Digital Bildung is found at a higher level of reflection than for instance that of simply using a digital tool. It requires developing a filter in the face of a huge load of information, and the ability to develop common digital decency. Digital skills as basic skills in the English subject curriculum “involve developing knowledge about copyright and protection of personal privacy through verifiable references to sources” (UDIR, 2006). So what to do then when a problem in the classroom is often extensive copy + pasting, and a low degree of critical competence? Developing an awareness of how to navigate through a load of information is the first step. The teacher needs digital competence in order to do this, and the students need a set of tools in order to test the validity and reliability of Internet sources. Didactically, the teacher could show the students different web pages with varying credibility. She could share her insights in how she assesses the information, and train students through tasks and exercises how to do this.



Krumsvik, R. (2007, Jul. 8). Digital danning. Feature article. Bergens Tidende.

UDIR (2006) “Basic Skills”. English Subject Curriculum. The Knowledge Promotion 2006. Oslo: Ministry of Education and Research

Assessing Radio Productions: Podcasting in the Lower Secondary



(Gray, 2007, Podcasting Logo, Flickr)


Podcasting is a creative and ingenious way of working with oral English in the language classroom. What is more, it is a way of documenting students’ phonological competence and digital productions. It can target specific competence aims. Students are very familiar to be giving oral presentations in the good ol’ PPT-design. Using podcasting and radio plays could serve to varying the teaching further, as well as enabling students in using digital tools in authentic work as producers.


(Wispfox, 2008, Space Camp Headset, Flickr)


Resources and budget

A potential threshold and reason for avoidance of such activities is resources and school budget. However, in 2014 schools are equipped with computers (or at least, they should be), and many are equipped with headsets for communication. Richardson (2009) emphasises the ease of facilitating podcasting in today’s schools. He says all you need is about 100$ and an Internet connection. Podcasting could thus be a cost-efficient endeavour.

Post-Millennium Teaching, Rooms for Learning, and Podbean

Working with media is a step toward a progressive language teaching classroom. Vettenranta argues that media work in the classroom could be useful way of combining subject specific activities with entertainment and dreams. Working with radio plays and podcasting inhabits the potential of supporting different learner styles. Students are given different roles in the working process. By employing Prinds’s (1999) framework of different rooms for learning, students are taught and trained before becoming autonomous learners. Students are deductively given examples and instruction in the teaching room. Showing and listening to podcasts that are published on a free Podcast blog, such PodBean, serves very well instead of showing a lot of text and information. The power of an example should not be underestimated. A few years ago I took a year course in Digital Competence at Volda University College. My group and I published a couple of episodes. You can access the online: . They are recorded in Norwegian. PodBean is a great and easy way of publishing audio files, and you can subscribe to the channel via an RSS-feed.


(k1ng51z3, 2008, rss, Flickr)


Podcasting in Lower Secondary: A Model

An idea I have thought about is using podcasting in Lower Secondary. There are plenty of competence aims that could be reached as seen below. My idea is to work with variants of English by combining oral communication and digital tools and working methods. The aim is to make radio plays, publish them as podcasts on the topic of a chosen variant of English. In terms of assessment, students should receive peer-to-peer feedback as well as teacher comments and response during the course of the work. The product and a reflection log of the working process will serve as material for final assessment. The time frame is set to four weeks, since recording, producing and editing are all time-consuming processes. Students write scripts, record, edit, produce, and publish.


Relevant Competence Aims

Oral communication

  • choose and use different listening and speaking strategies that are suitable for the purpose
  • express oneself fluently and coherently, suited to the purpose and situation

Language learning

  • select different digital resources and other aids and use them in an independent manner in own language learning
  • listen to and understand variations of English from different authentic situations


Culture, Society and Literature

  • create, communicate and converse about own texts inspired by English literature, films and cultural forms of expression


Learning Aims

–          Choose and give an account for a variety of English (e.g., Jamaican English, Cockney, Scottish, Geordie, Boston English, Scouse, etc.)

–          Give an account of the variety and provide examples of speech sounds that are distinct for the chosen variety

–          Write a script for the radio play

–          Distribute tasks and roles

–          Using YouTube to collect listening examples of chosen variety of English

–          Produce a radio play

–          Record own voice in English adapted to the genre of radio play

–          Edit sound files in Audacity

–          Downloading and using sound files in keeping with copyright regulations (e.g., Creative Commons Licenced material, e.g.

–          Publish radio play as podcast at

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important aspect of the project work in podcasting. In the course of a four week period the students will receive feedback on their progress. The teacher should be active in the process and tutor students. In week 2, different groups comment on each other’s work and hence scaffold each other’s learning processes. Here, the focus is on feedforward (as opposed to feedback), where students are given guidelines on how to improve their product. In week 3, teacher comments on the first draft. Students work on finalising their products in week 4, in addition to giving peer assessment. Finally, students write a reflection note on their learning process and role in the project. Summative assessment of the total process and project follows.


Summative assessment

–      The student has participated constructively in the group work, shown a positive attitude, and shown will to cooperation

o    Comment:

–      The student has actively participated in recording and the editing process

o    Comment:

–      The student shows knowledge and insight of a variety of English

o    Comment:

–      The student can express himself/herself with ease in English adapted to the aims of the recording

o    Comment:

–      The student shows netiquette and has used copyright cleared sources and material in the production

o    Comment:

–      The student has been independent and taken responsibility throughout the learning process

o    Comment:

–      The student has met the deadlines and made appointments with the teacher

o    Comment:

–      The student has participated actively in the assessment process



(Murphy, 2004, Houston we have a headset, Flickr)




Prinds, E. (1999). Rum til læring. København: Center for Teknologistøttet uddannelse.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

UDIR. (2006). Læreplanverket for Kunnskapsløftet (LK06). Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet.

Vettenranta, S. (2007). Mot mediedysleksiens tidsalder? In S. Vettenranta (Ed.), Mediedanning og mediepedagogikk. Oslo: Gyldendal akademisk forlag.

Kahoot follow-up: the students loved it

In last week’s post, I gave an account of relevant apps for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL). I thought immediately that I had to try it out in class, since simply writing about it does not lead anywhere. So, the following day I introduced when I was teaching an English class as a substitute teacher. I did not spend the full lesson on Kahoot. The students were working on a the topic: “Inventions”. They gave group presentations on their own made-up inventions. Afterwards, students worked with puzzles and crosswords on the topic. Finally, I told them we were going to do a quiz on Kahoot. The reaction was immediate; the students could almost not sit still by their desks.

One challenge you might face is that some students might not possess a smart phone or bring a computer. This happened in my case. The Law of Education(Kunnskapsdep 1998) has a principle of free policy in Norwegian primary and lower secondary schools. Since I only wanted to conduct one quiz, Human Inventions (by Kahoot), I organised the students in groups. Group cohesion was quickly established and the competitiveness was fierce.  The school I work at possesses student Ipads which could also solve this conundrum. In my experience, Kahoot is thus a game based learning supplement which can function as a pedagogic treat for students when working on a subject.



Kunnskapsdep. (1998). Law of Education for the Primary and Secondary School (Opplæringslova).   Retrieved10.4.2014, from

Vattoey, K. D. (2014, Apr 9) Apps + Homework = MALL [Online]. Available at: 

Apps + Homework = MALL

Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) has seen an explosion in terms of potential due to the introduction of smart phones. Through educational Apps, learners can find rich resources and varied activities in their language learning. I have earlier re-blogged Thiel’s (2014, Jan 24) article and review of Whitby’s (2013) Educating Gen-Wifi book, where instead of resisting smart phones in the classroom, educators are encouraged to actively utilize the potential of having, e.g., interactive encyclopaedias in your pocket. However, educators still have to question whether technology in each case can enhance learning processes in the classroom or not (cf. Leismann, 2014, Apr. 14). MALL should thus be used critically which presupposes thorough planning from the teacher.

Learning a language wherever you are

One of the most recent BBC Click episodes explores the potential of MALL. They present a language learning app called Busuu. This is an app where you can learn 12 languages, and interact with your peers. Duolingo is a similar app, allowing you to connect with your friends. Personally, I have found it motivational to compete with my friends in how much progress a day I am able to complete. And you can learn it wherever you are: on the bus, at the shopping centre, etc.

Coding can be easy and fun

The user interface in computing nowadays is much more simpler and easy to manage than some 15 years ago. Still, learning about codes and scripts in the quest of developing own software or apps is a very useful skill indeed. 2014 is the Year of Code, and enables learners to engage with problem-solving and code-cracking. Computer-science is hence taught through drag-and-drop programming, making it easy and fun. Still, learners can click and discover the real codes underneath. At, learners can be taught how to code the immensely popular game Flappy bird. I would assume this would be an enormous motivational factor for students.

In the occassion of ‘the Year of Code’, Silke tells of the ongoing Coding da Vinci project in Germany (Leismann, 2014, Apr. 14). Following the digitizing of many of Germany’s biggest libraries, this fusion of the gaming world and the cultural world seems very beneficial in bringing the high culture down to the public (Ibid.). So, jetzt anmelden, hackers of the open cultural world!

Game-based learning

Christian, has earlier published a post on the game-based learning tool Kahoot (Stranger-Johannessen, 2014 Feb 9). This is yet another form of MALL that has the potential to broaden the scope of the classroom. In Christian’s post, he shows to practical examples from his own testing in classroom to illustrate how motivated students can become in combining games and language learning. Interestingly, a student who rarely speaks in class won the game (!). BBC Click (2014, Mar 21) argues that Kahoot could be a great way of drawing students attention away from Snapchat and Facebook to engage in interactive learning activities.


Below you can watch the instructional video from, showing you how to code your own Flappy bird game:

And here you can enjoy the BBC Click episode:



BBC (2014, Mar 21). Learning a new language with help from your peers [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 09.04.2014].

Leismann, S. (2014, Apr. 14) “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

Stranger-Johannessen, C. (2014, Feb 9). The Wonders Of Kahoot [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 09.04.2014]

Thiel, P. (2014, Jan 24). Gen Wi-Fi [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 09.04.2014]

Whitby, G. (2013). Educating Gen Wi-Fi: How We Can Make Schools Relevant for 21st Century Learners. Australia: HarperCollins

Multimodal analysis: Deconstructing the semiotics of a power point presentation

The fact that students should work with a variety of texts and genres is a relatively clear in the Knowledge Promotion (UDIR, 2006). The salience of this is lent to several competence aims. However, the word multimodal is not used, and the interpretation consequently becomes more open (as seen in curriculum analyses, e.g. Vattøy 2014). However, the aims about modality are implicitly formulated. In the English subject curriculum, students should be able to “produce different kinds of texts suited to formal digital requirements for different digital media” (After VG1). As shown, although not explicitly formulated, making use of different digital media multimodality will most likely be a feature. In the elaboration of digital skills, nevertheless, the idea of modality is more explicitly formulated: “Formal requirements in digital texts means that effects, images, tables, headlines and bullet points are compiled to emphasise and communicate a message” (UDIR, 2006).

PK (2010), spectral bicycle and train - with sound. Flickr, Creative Commons License

PK (2010), spectral bicycle and train – with sound. Flickr, Creative Commons License

The notion of multimodality

Multimodality implies applying different modes in the creation of an artefact. Van Leeuwen (2005) argues that the notion of semiotic resources, as introduced by Halliday (1978), is the basis for multimodality with its focus on meaning-making through different signs. Kress and van Leeuwen (1996) use children’s drawings as an example to highlight their notion of visual grammar. Still, multimodality could be understood in a much wider sense than simply the traditional idea of text, picture, and sound. Iversen and Otnes (2010) thus apply the term multimodal grammar to expand the limits of the semiotic resources available (p. 178). In their lyrical montage analysis of students’ power point presentations they apply the framework of Kress (2003) with the key notion of functional load. Kress (2003) understands functional load in terms of what affordances each mode carries and what salience it is given.

Multimodal analysis of a power point presentation

In this post, I will analyse a power point presentation I made last year in a the British Culture and Society part of the ”English VG1” subject at an upper secondary school. I will use screenshots of selected slides as basis.


Opening slide, Slide 1

The opening slide of the power point is an interesting one, and I chose it as material for my analysis because of its associations to a badge. The text that is added over and below the image, complements the image of the British coat of arms in a very beneficial way. My initial association is to a badge someone would wear on one’s jersey or sweater. I decided that the opening slide should be static, and I chose not to add any animations and movements for several reasons. First, the honour and importance of a national coat of arms is not to be used in an informal manner. Second, as an opening slide it should give some sense of a solid point of departure. The image of the coat of arms has the functional load (cf. Kress 2003) considering its central position. The text functions then arguably as an extension of the most salient modality. The function of the modalities is informative.


Henry VIII slide, Slide2.

In this slide, however, the informative function of the language is challenged by the expressional trick with the genre mixing. Making an old painting into a comic strip is an anachronistic and unusual feature. Digital texts carries the potential to allowing students to use their creative imagination when producing multimodal texts. I found the comic genre applied on photos and paintings quite interesting, and the meaning affordance alters. My students laughed out loud when they saw this slide, and I wanted to utilize the animation functions of the Power Point software. I started in the reading direction (from top) with the title and first bullet point. The two components came sliding in. Then, I let the Henry VIII painting come spiralling down on the slide with the speech bubble lightening down diagonally. This comic element dominated the whole slide after being introduced, and the students dwelled at this extension of textual information. Van Leeuwen (2005) uses the term rhythm in explaining how semiotic combinations such as animations could enhance the multimodal cohesion (p. 179).

Educational use of multimodal analyses

Analyses such as these, where students apply a framework on different multimodal texts could empower students with an enforced meta-analytical awareness. With tools for deconstructing multimodal texts, students are more able to consciously create their own multimodal texts. From a teacher’s point of view, one possibility is to assemble a framework with key terms, such as, e.g., rhythm, composition, information linking, and dialogue (cf. Van Leeuwen 2005).

Once again, I just feel I have to show one more comic-inspired power point slide, seeing as this was a feature I especially fell in love with.


Cameron Ministry, Slide 3



Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotic. London: Arnold.

Iversen, H. M., & Otnes, H. (2010). Multimodale lyrikkmontasjer–teknologibruk og tolkende tekstskaping. In J. Smidt, I. Folkvord & A. J. Aasen (Eds.), Rammer for skriving. Om skriveutvikling i skole og yrkesliv (pp. 175-187). Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk Forlag.

Kress, G. R., & Van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. New York: Psychology Press.

Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. London & New York: Routledge.

UDIR. (2006). Læreplanverket for Kunnskapsløftet (LK06). Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.

Vattøy, K. D. (2014, Jan, 28) Curriculum analysis of the English subject (LK06): Looking for Digital Competence [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 24.03.2014]

Hypertext: navigating through a web of links


Brickley (2010) “Hypertext Flexibility”, Flickr, Creative Commons License

Hypertextuality lies at the very core of the World Wide Web, and it is by which it becomes possible to navigate through the a vast web of nodes, which are text-segments. Information is linked from a pointer (what we click) via a link to a node. The links are invisible, and you click on pointers to access different nodes which can be web pages and such.

Brickley’s (2010) photo illustrates, analogously and brilliantly, how texts are connected to one another. If you click the photo you will be directed to his Flickr page, since I changed the URL of the link in an attempt to credit his work of art in an even thorougher fashion than a textual reference can aspire to accomplish. Clicks will boost his statistics.

Non-digital vs digital hypertext

Non-digital texts could have some hypertext qualities. When we read a newspaper we might find a page number of an article we are interested in on the front page, and then go ahead and open the respective page. On the web, however, everything is connected through hypertext at some level. The web might sometimes appear as a labyrinth, but without a specific beginning or end, considering how everything is interconnected.


LexnGer (2006) “Toronto Labyrinth”, Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed.

Internal vs external links

The links that are created from this page to the two respective Flickr pages are called external links, since they lead to different websites. The links that are created under the topic “Collaborative writing” are by contrast internal links, seeing as they lead to the same WordPress site (in this case).

Hypertexts and digital texts in the classroom

Students of the 21st century are familiar in handling masses of information, and have perhaps developed strategies that are unfamiliar to older users, since the time of exposure is often at an earlier age. Students may be familiar with sharing posts and content through social media. Not all, however, are used to write texts where they deliberately and consciously link to pages by marking text, image or icon.

Hypertext and critical digital competence

I have earlier written posts about Wikipedia in the classroom where I focussed on the importance of critical digital competence. I had a hands-on experience in the classroom where students systematically altered Wikipedia articles and proved my point. I believe that collaborative writing where students engage in joint text production using hypertext could increase their critical digital competence. This could be done by using for instance Wikispaces. Encouraging students to link to one another’s wiki-pages as well as external links to useful information could deepen their understanding of how the web works.

Hypertext and multimodality:

Kulbrandstad (2001) discusses the importance of an awareness of hypertext at the Lower Secondary level. He writes about the project HYPTUNG (“Hypertekst i ungdomstrinnet” / “Hypertext at the Lower Secondary level”) in his report that has the title “From woolen threads to hyper links”. The analogy is in line with Brickley’s (2010) photo. He argues for a creative approach to working with hypertexts in the classroom: “Work with hypertext in the classroom, thus, has to give students the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in what is called web design or screen aesthetics” (p. 14; my translation).

Pedagogical idea

In keeping with Kulbrandstad’s ideas about combining hypertext and multimodality, I think it could be a very useful idea to initiate group project work on wikipages. Students create their own wikis and work with a specific topic, where there is a focus on making hypertexts, and linking, in particular to their fellow students’ pages. When their project is finished, a cross-curricular activity is carried out where for instance Arts and Crafts is combined with English. Students make representations of their wikipages in keeping with Brickley’s illustrative photo, and Kulbrandstad’s ideas about woolen threads. Students will be given feedback along the way, and are assessed at the end of the project. At this point, a focus on hypertext will be emphasised.



Kulbrandstad, L. A. 2001. Fra ulltråder til hyperlenker. Rapport fra prosjektet “Hypertekst på ungdomstrinnet”,. Hamar: Høgskolen i Hedmark, nr. 2.