Manoeuvring the ‘Meralte’: Agile Digital Content

Schedule info

Time slot: 

Thursday 2 October 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Meeting Room 2


  • Redefining Education


Meralte is an indigenous Australian word for canoe. The book Meralte (Jenkin, Koolmatrie et al. 2003) tells of a brother and a sister who set off from a desert community and make their way south through unknown country in search of a canoe, an unknown object in their world. In this paper, the notion of ‘manoeuvring the meralte’ is used as a metaphor for agile design as it was experienced in a resource development project, the Authentic Literacy Data Analysis (ALDA) project. The author presents the perspective of a content designer working at the interface of two worlds of practice – school education and teacher education.

In the Meralte story, the teenagers meet new peoples, experience foreign environments and learn to navigate diverse social customs that exist between their home in the central deserts of Australia and the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia. Having found a meralte, they must then learn to paddle and manoeuvre it through the unpredictable and challenging river currents. Like the siblings in Meralte, the ALDA team set out to investigate new instructional territory for an English Curriculum course at an Australian university. The project aimed to enhance pre-service teachers knowledge and skills in literacy assessment data analysis and instructional planning through developing a series of digital case studies drawn from authentic classroom practice. The continued and rapid evolution of both technology and teacher education presents major challenges for teacher educators, with information and communication technologies (ICTs) ‘best viewed as clusters of innovation that are adopted and/or rejected by individuals and organizations in stages’(2010). This paper makes visible the in-use methods adopted to collect, design, deliver and manage digital content within the ALDA project and discusses the ICTs and innovations deployed and discarded along the way.

The ALDA project experienced unpredictable and changing requirements, with the project team adopting approaches and methods reflective of the principles and approaches emerging from the study of agile software development over the past decade (Dybå and Dingsøyr 2008). The ICT challenges and successes of this ‘agile development’ of digital case study content are narrated by the projects content designer using the lens of the four core values of agile development: ‘individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, responding to change over following a plan’(Beck, Beedle et al. 2001). Like the young siblings in Meralte, the ALDA project arrived at its destination having generated new knowledge, skills and insights. The paper concludes with a discussion of the requirements and challenges of developing instructional digital content for pre-service teacher education and insight provided by adopting a lens of agile development for future iterations of the educational content development for teacher education.

Beck, K., M. Beedle, A. v. Bennekum, A. Cockburn, W. Cunningham, M. Fowler, J. Grenning, J. Highsmith, A. Hunt, R. Jeffries, J. Kern, B. Marick, R. C. Martin, S. Mellor, K. Schwaber, J. Sutherland and D. Thomas. (2001). "The Agile Manifesto." Retrieved 29 November 2013, 2013, from
Davis, N. (2010). Technology in Preservice Teacher Education. International Encyclopedia of Education (Third Edition). P. Peterson, E. Baker and B. McGaw. Oxford, Elsevier: 217-221.
Dybå, T. and T. Dingsøyr (2008). "Empirical studies of agile software development: A systematic review." Information and Software Technology 50(9–10): 833-859.
Jenkin, G., J. Koolmatrie and J. Davis (2003). Meralte : an epic story of the northern stars. . Kurralta Park, S. Aust, J.B. Books.

Session Info


  • Non Refereed Paper


  • Primary School
  • Technicians & IT Managers
  • General audience


  • Digital case studies
  • teacher education
  • agile design
  • ICT skills