#UTASNewLits – Why I travelled to Australia

In June I received an unexpected email from Angela Thomas, who I have met in 2009 at the UKLA Conference in Greenwich, inviting me to be a keynote speaker at a the New Literacies, Digital Media and Classroom Teaching conference (#UTASNewLits) at the University of Tasmania on 3rd September. Obviously I jumped at the opportunity and was able to travel to Australia a week early, having completed my MA thesis two weeks before the deadline. This meant that I could spend some time in Melbourne before travelling to speak at the conference in Tasmania.

The event was organised by Angela through the University of Tasmania as well as HITLab Australia and had a host of inspiring keynotes and workshops. The legendary Len Unsworth (who I respect immensely) opened the conference talking about interpretive reading and viewing pedagogy through the lens of picture books and film. The wonderful Lalitha Vasudevan of Columbia University inspired us all with her work with adolescent and multimodal pedagogies. I also had the pleasure of enjoying fellow Brit Bill Boyd’s keynote about new narratives and new times as he closed the conference. My own keynote (below) focused on the fact that literacy is constantly subject to change and that social media are constantly challenging and redefining notions of literacy in society.

I also got to know Paul Chandler and Annemaree O’Brien and was sad to miss their workshops as their work into multimodal narratives is excellent. It was also great to meet and become friends with Damon Thomas and James Riggall who made me feel so welcome during my visit to Tasmania. The conference really made me realise how much I enjoy academia and pushing the boundaries with educational thinking in relation to new media technologies. There was a great buzz throughout the whole conference with excellent discussions during break-out sessions and the Q&A panel at the end of the conference. Also equally exciting was the fact that Angela, Len and I were featured on a TV News report which reported the use of social media in education and footage from my keynote.

A huge thanks to Angela for inviting me to speak at such an inspiring event. I believe that the actual keynotes were recorded and will be placed online soon but until then you can view the slides from my keynote above. The whole trip was a huge inspiration and you can view some of my pictures on my Flickr photostream.