Digital Booktalk a UCF Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) Grand Prize Winner is the result of collaborative efforts between Dr. Robert Kenny from the Educational and Instructional Media program at Florida Gulf Coast University and Dr. Glenda Gunter from the Educational Technology & e-Learning Program at the University of Central Florida. The curriculum was originally developed in conjunction with Orange County Schools in Orlando, Fl. The conceptual design is based on research into what motivates reluctant and striving readers to select, read, and complete books.
“Booktalk”, a phrase coined by award-winning children’s author Aidan Chambers, identifies the concept of ”talking about reading” with reader-response contexts, or interacting with text. Nancy Keane, on her award winning website, explains several associated activities that help to expand a reader’s interest in what they read.
In late 2002, Dr. Robert Kenny, who is currently a faculty member and Chair of the Department of Leadership, Counseling, and Educational Technology at Florida Gulf Coast University, initially conceived of using video book trailers to introduce reluctant and striving readers to read books. In collaboration with Dr. Glenda Gunter, Program Coordinator for the Educational Technology and e-Learning Certificate Programs at the University of Central Florida, the two have since extensively researched and developed a supplementary instructional curriculum based on teaching students the basics of digital narratives. A more extensive description of their work can be found in the literature. A current list of their publications can be found on this Reference List.
The members of the original concept team for this site were graduate students recruited by Dr. Kenny and Phil Peters, an associate professor in Digital Media in the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida, during the spring term of 2003. The initial conceptual design of the site was developed in Mr. Peter’s Media Production class and published in April of that year. This was followed up during the summer and fall terms in Media Production classes taught by Dr. Kenny, after which the first Website was published. The site has since undergone several iterations and improvements. The current version represents the fourth and is still undergoing improvements and upgrades.
Book Talks vs Digital Booktalks
Digital Booktalk expands Chambers’ literary booktalk model by providing children with interactive visuals of the books that they used to only read. Many children are reluctant to read and would rather watch a movie made from books. It is our belief that you can use that reality as an educational advantage. Drs. Kenny and Gunter hypothesize that, if a student experiences a 2-minute book trailer done in the style of a motion picture, they will be better able to find a book that matches their interests, and will expand their reading to an ever-widening range. Furthermore, they believe that the book trailer production process is a fun and effective literacy pedagogy for today’s technologically advanced youth.
Currently, 132 trailers of classic titles are complete. More trailers are being added regularly by UCF students and by those submitted by students in K-12 schools across the country who use the UB-the-Director Curriculum Model in their classrooms. On-going research is being conducted as to the effectiveness of the site and its associated activities.
Circle of Seven Productions
We recently welcomed Circle of Seven Productions (COS) as a marketing/production partner. COS is the owner of the trademark for the term "book trailer", and invented the concept in 2002 as a marketing tool for book publishers… just as we were simultaneously developing our digital booktalk concept for K-12 schools. We feel that joining forces with COS is a natural progression and is the result of our parallel efforts of producing the best quality book trailers for the classroom.
According to the Florida Department of Education’s 2004 annual report, less than half of every grade can read at their grade level . The rest actually read below level. In an effort to proactively combat poor reading comprehension and institute a new methodology that utilizes the story invention process to motivate reluctant and striving readers, Drs. Gunter & Kenny have long believed that the Digital Booktalk project is an innovative way to integrate digital narratives into the curriculum.
The student productions of DBT focus use the technological skills taught in the undergraduate Digital Media and graduate Educational Technology curricula that teach teachers how to create dynamic digital games, trailers, and Web sites. Many of these skills include research and writing, Flash animation, visual storytelling, video recording and editing, audio recording, graphic design, web site development, programming, and database creation.
During our first major site re-design production in the spring of 2005, we were able to begin a relationship with MetaMetrics, Inc. to utilize their extensive shareware Lexile Framework Reading database technology to retrieve updated information on the books featured on the web site. Our academic partnership was a match made in heaven as Lexile.com aims to match readers with books by accurately determining their reading level. Digital Booktalk shares the same goal, but accomplishes it through video book trailers and other accessible, interactive digital dynamic media found on this site.
An offspring of Digital Booktalk, UB the Director, has college students demonstrating the production process to middle school students. The UB the Director Curriculum Model is currently in the first phases of development, during which a web site and standardized curriculum are being constructed.
In the Spring of 2005, Digital Booktalk received 1st Prize at the University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Showcase. (SURE)
Recently, Digital Booktalk was also awarded the A+ Site Award from Web English Teacher.