Bridging the Gap: Digital Comics in Education

Photo credit: Comics Cloud
BY Leah Watson

AS TECHNOLOGY continues to charge forward, some Australians are getting left behind.

PhD student at QUT and digital comics creator and facilitator, Milan Ilich, is hoping to minimize the digital divide amongst Indigenous adults by using digital comics to create an educational model teaching digital literacy.

“The aim of my PhD project is to create an educational model that teaches digital literacy in a fun way,” Mr Ilich said.

“If you’re having fun while you’re learning, then it doesn’t really feel like you’re learning, because you’re distracted, and everything actually sinks in.”

According to Milan Ilich, the digital gap amongst groups in Australia is a problem.

“Through my research preparing for my PhD, I’ve found that there are a lot of Indigenous


Milan Ilich, digital comics creator and facilitator


adults between 20 and 29 years old who are moving into major cities, but are significantly behind in their digital fluency,” Mr Ilich said.

“Nowadays, especially with the rise of smartphones and tablets, online communication is central to everyday life.

“If you can’t keep up with technology and how to use each program or platform to its best, then it becomes increasingly difficult to operate in society, especially on a professional level.”

Social worker with Micah Projects, a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing services to create justice and respond to injustice in the community, Ricco Schroer, believes digital literacy is imperative to employment opportunities.

“Most jobs demand a level of digital knowledge,” Mr Schroer said.

“It’s no longer about just participating either, but actually engaging in the digital environment.

“For example, finding a job is all online now so having an online profile is becoming crucial when looking for employment.

“And most information and resources are digitalized too, so learning how to access them is a necessary skill.”

Milan Ilich has run multiple workshops on creating digital comics.

It was during his work with Micah Projects that he realized the potential such workshops had for teaching digital literacy and facilitating education.

“I was running digital comic workshops for first-time fathers and it was amazing how making a comic about their experiences led to really open discussion,” Mr Ilich said.

“It was like the comics acted as a distraction – so everyone could talk freely but not feel like they were over sharing.”

It is clear from Milan Ilich’s experiences that Indigenous Australians are not the only ones who can benefit from digital literacy workshops.

According to Ricco Schroer, many groups could be eventually targeted.

“LOTE communities, early school leavers, elderly Australians, children with learning difficulties and those who live in remote areas can all benefit,” Mr Schroer said.

Milan Ilich has recently had his PhD proposal approved and is aiming to run the digital literacy workshops across Queensland in 2017.




Week 13

Final week!

After finally getting an interview with Ricco, my social worker source, for my final feature, today I can finally write the article.

The video is practically done already, so that’s easy enough. What will be difficult is sifting through the hour and a half audio interview with Milan.

His passion for his project is a blessing, but it also means he went on many tangents and I had to keep nudging him back on track.

On another note, today in class we are finishing up our review for Batman. Jayden is working on adding gameplay clips over his segment of the review, while I double-checked how to reference the game clips and trailer, as per Good Games.

We are also adding our GameState logo to the bottom right corner of the entire video. Exciting!

It’s looking really good and, honestly, I’m very proud of it.

At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t think I would ever enter the studio. I’m more comfortable writing online – but this has spiked my interest in broadcast.

Additionally, a bunch of us helped mock up the studio at the end of class.

Thanks for a great semester, Chris!

Week 12

Today we started editing our GameState video.

First, we put together the footage of us that we liked best.

Secondly, we put Jayden’s gameplay footage as the background image on the blue screen. Thank you Chris for linking us to the instruction video.

Third, it was time to insert parts of the trailer and gameplay over our footage, keeping our recording as voiceover. It’s looking amazing!

As my segment is first (and I already did a practise at home), I was able to quickly cut the trailer, maintaining the authenticity of the trailer itself, and put it on top of our recording.

Andre’s segment is also done. It took a lot longer to cut and paste relevant gameplay segments on top of his review.

Depending on how we go for time this week, we may have to add the logo, intro and Batman: The Telltale Series Warner Bros. Entertainment reference next week.

Looking good!

Unfortunately, my source for my feature about Milan Ilich’s PhD project hasn’t responded to my requests for an interview yet.

Milan has agreed to talk to him for me, because it will work in his best interest to have a source also working on the project.

Week 11

Back from the holidays and last week’s public holiday, it was time to film our review for Batman: The Telltale Series. Over the break, Jayden, Andre and myself played the first and second episodes and wrote our segments. Jayden also recorded his gameplay for us to use.

It was actually amazing how easy filming was. The first take was near-perfect, with only a few mistakes (like Andre saying ‘Harley Dent’ instead of ‘Harvey Dent’, but who can blame him, Harley is so much better than Two-Face).

The hardest part was actually setting up the studio. I felt I had to fight to get the set-up that most closely resembled that of Good Game, which we had originally agreed was our base.

In the end, I did get my way. Good Games for the win.

It was really fun to get in the studio and play around. I think this really shows in our discussion at the end, which was done in one take and unscripted. The conversation is natural and easy to watch – definitely shows our knowledge and passion for the series – resulting in an effortlessly professional review.

Additionally, over the break I interviewed Milan Ilich for my final feature article and finalised the Kaladesh review.

I’m not completely happy with the video element of the Kaladesh story, but I got the footage I could. It was very clear that most  people at the pre-release were not comfortable in front of camera.

On a more positive note, the interview with Milan was very good and I got a lot of great audio and footage.

Now I’m just waiting for his social work contact to get back to me for the final interview.

Kaladesh: A New World



FANS of trading card game Magic: The Gathering convened at Good Games Gold Coast in Southport this weekend for the pre-release of the newest set, Kaladesh.

Kaladesh is the 72nd Magic expansion and the first in the Kaladesh block.

With 264 cards in the set, Kaladesh is one of the largest expansions recently released.

Owner of Good Games Gold Coast, Damien Hutchins, says such large launches draw even OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlarger crowds.

“We’re expecting between 280 and 300 people for the Kaladesh pre-release events over the whole weekend,” Damien said.

Magic is the sort of game that attracts anyone – doesn’t matter how old you are or what other things you’re into.”

First published by Wizards of the Coast in 1993, Magic was the first trading card game.

With vibrant worlds, immersive stories and infinite heroes and beasts, Magic has expanded globally over the years and now hosts millions of players worldwide.

“The thing about games like Magic, which attract a lot of different people, is that it creates a really inclusive social sphere,” Damien said.

“We get lots of players who probably don’t have the best social skills, but they meet people and make friends because of Magic.”

Teachers Robin O’Neill and Briannah Alexander have experienced the social inclusiveness first hand.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“We’re from Toowoomba originally, so Magic is really good socially,” Robin said.

“There are people who play who probably wouldn’t get out much, but come to play Magic every Friday night so there’s definitely a social element.”

A 2004 article in USA Today suggested that playing Magic might improve the social and mental skills of players.

The article interviewed players and parents of players who believe Magic contains a great amount of strategy and vocabulary that people may not be exposed to on a regular basis. Sentiment mathematics and science teacher, Robin O’Neill, agrees with.

Magic is really good for maths, understanding clauses and even sentence structure,” Robin said.

Kaladesh officially launches on September 30.

Interview with Robin O’Neill, Magic: The Gathering, Kaladesh

Week 9

In class today Chris suggested that Andre, Jayden and myself should have done a comic show. So, GameState was born!

Image by Jayden Hausfeld

With Episode 2 of Batman: The Telltale Series, ‘Children of Arkham’, being released on September 20th, we have decided to review it for a broadcast show.

So in addition to helping in the studio for another group, we wrote a brief script and practised it in front of camera.

When we were discussing off-script the conversation was very natural and funny! Very easy watching. However, there was definitely nerves when reading off the prompter.

Andre in particular had trouble during the first reading and stammered quite a lot. At one point he really couldn’t get the words out so, as I had been reading the prompter as well, I jumped in and helped him out until he knew what he was saying again.

I feel that was a good example about how we work as a group because it showed how easily we can talk and improvise, which is crucial for the type of show we are going for.

The style of our show will follow the same format as Good Game on ABC, a well-known gaming show that Andre and I watch religiously.

See below Good Game’s review of Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1: ‘Realm of Shadows’.

Over the week break we are all going to replay Episode 1 and play Episode 2 of Batman: The Telltale Series and write our notes and reviews.

Should be good!

Update: After watching and analysing Good Game’s episode and review formats, I created a draft script/breakdown for our show that follows their formula.