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Sensing place: Embodiment, sensoriality, kinesis, and children behind the camera

by Mills, K., Comber, B. & Kelly, P. (2013). Sensing place: Embodiment, sensoriality, kinesis, and children behind the camera. English Teaching,12(2), 11-27. New Zealand: University of Waikato.

This article is a call to literacy teachers and researchers to embrace the possibility of attending more consciously to the senses in digital media production. Literacy practices do not occur only in the mind, but involve the sensoriality, embodiment, co-presence, and movement of bodies. This paper theorises the sensorial and embodied dimension of children’s filmmaking about place in two communities in Australia. The films were created by pre-teen Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in Logan, Queensland, and by Indigenous teenagers at the Warralong campus of the Strelley Community School in remote Western Australia. The films were created through engagement in cross-curricular units that sensitised the students’ experience of local places, gathering corporeal information through their sensing bodies as they interacted with the local ecology. The analysis highlights how the sensorial and bodily nature of literacy practice through documentary filmmaking was central to the children’s formation and representation of knowledge, because knowledge and literacy practices are not only acquired through the mind, but are also reliant on embodiment, sensoriality, co-presence, and kinesics of the body in place.

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Immersive virtual reality (VR) for digital media making: transmediation is key

by Mills, K., Brown, A. (2021)

The rapid evolution of virtual reality (VR) technologies and their adoption for learning opens up new possibilities for shifting semiotic content across modes, with underexplored scope for transmediating content in visual, haptic, and auditory ways in immersive media literacy practices. This research investigated users’ creative digital designing involving a popular, three-dimensional virtual painting program with upper elementary students who used a VR head mounted display and sensors. The analysis attended to how students transmediated the same story across written, verbal, and virtual painting modes, tracing key themes of the students’ virtual experience: (i) immersion and three-dimensionality, (ii) subjective presence, (iii) sensory illusion, and (iv) interactivity with motion tracking. Students reassembled and shifted narrative content, sometimes seamlessly, while experiencing ambiguity and complexity about three-dimensional representation in an immersive world. Producing stories across modes invited adaptation and generative thinking to overcome the lack of equivalence between writing, drawing, and virtual painting modes.

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Towards a typology of touch in multisensory makerspaces

by Friend, L. & Mills, K.

This research examined the role of touch in creative media production in the context of educational and community makerspaces. Touch, while only recently explored in digital media production, is a crucial perceptive sense through which to experience the world, particularly in two- and three-dimensional making, and to explore texture, temperature, and vibration. As an embodied experience through the hands, fingers, and other body parts, touch affords knowledge and agency. This paper describes research that investigated how students, ages 8–13, used touch to make media. The findings illustrate how different touch types—explorative, creative, auxiliary, evocative, orchestrated, and transformative – emerged as central to the students’ media practices for making products. These findings are important given the recent applications of embodiment theory and its relevance to creative digital media making in education and society.

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Chapters and books

Chapter 13 “The digital mediation of emotion in late modernity”, in Emotions in Late Modernity

By Kathy A. Mills, Len Unsworth, Georgina Barton

This international collection discusses how the individualised, reflexive, late modern era has changed the way we experience and act on our emotions. Divided into four sections that include studies ranging across multiple continents and centuries, it is the first collection to investigate the changing nature of emotional experience in contemporary times.

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Handbook of Writing, Literacies, and Education in Digital Cultures

by Kathy A. Mills, Amy Stornaiuolo, Anna Smith, Jessica Zacher Pandya

At the forefront of current digital literacy studies in education, this handbook uniquely systematizes emerging interdisciplinary themes, new knowledge, and insightful theoretical contributions to the field. Written by well-known scholars from around the world, it closely attends to the digitalization of writing and literacies that is transforming daily life and education.

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Chapter 7 Digital literacies in Literacy Theories for the Digital Age

Forward by David Howes and Chapter 7 Sensory Literacies
by Kathy A. Mills

Literacy Theories for the Digital Age insightfully brings together six essential approaches to literacy research and educational practice. The book provides powerful and accessible theories for readers, including Socio-cultural, Critical, Multimodal, Socio-spatial, Socio-material and Sensory Literacies. The brand new Sensory Literacies approach is an original and visionary contribution to the field, coupled with a provocative foreword from leading sensory anthropologist David Howes. This dynamic collection explores a legacy of literacy research while showing the relationships between each paradigm, highlighting their complementarity and distinctions. This highly relevant compendium will inspire researchers and teachers to explore new frontiers of thought and practice in times of diversity and technological change.

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Conferences and Keynotes

Multimodal Research International Conference, Auckland, New Zealand

Mills, K. A. (2019, December). Transmediation: Story writing to multimodal design in in virtual reality. Multimodal Research International Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Symposium conducted at the meeting of American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada

Mills, K. A. (2019, April). Transmediation in children’s virtual reality (VR) art. In D. Low (Chair). Symposium conducted at the meeting of American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.

Critical Digital Literacies in a Sensory World. USN, Norway

Mills, K.A. (2020, Sept). Critical Digital Literacies in a Sensory World. USN, Norway.

Transmediation using Virtual Reality Technology, Cyprus

Mills, K.A. (2021, March 12-13). Transmediation using Virtual Reality Technology. 4th International Conference Literacy and Contemporary Society, Cyprus.

AATE/ALEA National Conference, Challenge & Change: Contemporary Literacy & English Teaching, Brisbane.

Mills, K.A. (2021, July 7-9) . The Future of the Digital Turn in the New Literacy Studies. AATE/ALEA National Conference, Challenge & Change: Contemporary Literacy & English Teaching, Brisbane.

Australian Literacy Educators Association

Mills, K.A. (2020, March). The Role of the Senses in Multimodal Design: Stories from Culturally Diverse Classrooms, Australian Literacy Educators Association, June 29.