Nestled off Tasmania’s North West coast, a troop of the island’s youngest locals have taken it upon themselves to become tourism ambassadors for their unique homeland, via the King Island Digital Stories (KIDS) project.
Blending technology and storytelling techniques, the Year 4 and 5 students worked alongside Dr Jennifer Masters to capture the idiosyncrasies of island life.
“[King Island] is rather a magical place”, Masters, from the University of Tasmania, shares.
“And something that impressed me about the children there is that they have all this knowledge and understanding that they take for granted, but everybody else would find it really unusual.
“So by them each telling their little piece of the story, we have built together a collection of stories; it’s like a jigsaw of pieces that put together what life on King Island is like.”
What began as a literacy project soon morphed into a special bonding experience, where children began to ponder their connection to ‘home’ and their community.
The art of digital storytelling worked wonders, Masters says.
“There’s quite a bit of research about the sense of place, the idea that we all belong somewhere…
“A lot of these children will go away from the island, but by establishing a really strong connection to the place they then talk to other people about it and promote the environment…”
While initially students didn’t feel their tales of island life were particularly quirky, they soon understood their significance once they hit the public realm.
One story titled ‘A day at the races’ was shared online by King Island Racing Club. Racing Australia quickly followed suit.
“She was saying ‘oh, all these people are looking at my work!’ and I said ‘yeah, you’ve gone viral!” Masters laughs.
“I soon realised that this is a different sort of literacy … because they were using voiceover and connecting image with text and thinking about expression and performance – it was just completely different,” she adds.
The school is now looking to connect with other remote schools around the globe via Google Earth to share their digital resources and compare lifestyles.
“Knowing there are other children in similar sort of environments, all different environments, is quite cool,” Masters says.