Exploring how primary school educators might generate and evaluate multi-literacy progression frameworks…

for children centred digital-physical narratives

Planet Earth Institute sponsored the #ScienceAfrica UnConference held on July 2017. It was a day long participant driven conference with emphasis on informal exchange of information and ideas between participants. Activities included nine participatory workshops that ran concurrently. These workshops were designed around Big Social Impact Ideas that could cross over between the UK and Africa.  The issues addressed by various workshops ranged from integrating gender thinking into innovation processes, enterprise research and education policy, and scaling solar sensor infrastructure as public utility.

We responded to a competitive call out by Planet Earth Institute and were invited to deliver a workshop themed Listening to educators and teachers perspectives around how children absorb meaning from multi-format narratives, to inform design of multi-literacy progression frameworks.

We used this workshop to explore UK teaching traditions that inform generation and evaluation of multi-literacy progression frameworks for diversity and pedagogy, in a digital age.

Problem space

We assume primary school educators bring a trained and an intuitive knowledge of kids’ interpretative abilities, primarily print and speech to inform literacy progression frameworks. *Research demonstrates this is less so with digital narratives that combine text, speech, images, moving images, sound, music and physical artefacts. Our hypothesis is this; digital-physical narratives as content are likely to be integral to multi-literacy lesson planning for future primary school environments, populated by digital natives.

Cross-curriculum content as a function of learning mediated by digital and physical artefacts in socio-culturally diverse environments is viable and in transition. The implications of these developments for pedagogy, multi-literacy curriculum design and teaching in the UK is evolving.

It is an issue that is being defined by cultural, economic, political and socially situated contexts in which technology is transitioning across nation states. How 21st century skills, computing capability, participatory learning, multiple literacies afforded by digital media informs the teacher’s evaluative role in class is not determined at this point.


We adapted participatory and interactive approaches to get perspectives from teachers about extent to which they understand how children absorb meaning, from the interplay between physical and digital narrative formats. This includes how kids’ life stories are shaped by interplay of digital and physical formats.

Using digital content as prototypes we kicked off with this line of enquiry; what types of data might inform progression frameworks that educators use to assess how 7-11 year old kids absorb meaning. We also looked at this issue in context of kids’ capability to read, interpret and produce meaning, across physical and digital narrative formats.

Take away

Precise nature of embedded cultural and social lives of children and skills they draw on to make sense of televisual, physical artefacts and print text needs to be better understood.

Educators who are aware of the semiotic processes required to decode televisual, physical artefacts and print text are better positioned to inform multi-literacy progression frameworks.

Insights into what literacy progression frameworks might look like for educators needs to be informed, by broader geographical research into how kids consume digital-physical narratives.


1. Children, Film and Literacy by Dr. Rebecca Parry 2. Film Education, Literacy and Learning by Dr. Rebecca Parry. 3. The Digital Age and its Implications for Learning and Teaching in Primary School by Cathy Burnett (A report for the Cambridge Primary Review Trust) and UK Literacy Association 2017 Publication. 

Project Team

Research Workshop Advisory: Leeor Levy, Project Mgr & Workshop Facilitator: Ayodeji Alaka, Observation Documentary Film Maker: Caroline Deeds, Proposal Review: Dr. Rebecca Parry, Outcomes reviewed by Dr. Rebecca Jones, Workshop Sponsor: Planet Earth Institute 2017 #ScienceAfrica UnConference, Minimum Viable Experiment Produced by FOF Project Team, Supported by NFTS Incubator.

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