Weaving A Web of Stories

For today’s blog I want to share some examples of innovative uses of new media for learning and story-telling that I find inspiring and with potential for learning and creativity.

First, there is the edition of Hamlet as a Facebook newsfeed.

My personal favourites here are Hamlet’s status updates:

“ Polonius thinks this curtain is a good thing to hide behind” followed by “Polonius is no longer online” as well as “Hamlet became a fan of daggers.”

Is there any educational value in this approach to story-telling? I think yes – for some. A student whom I interviewed today said that she saw Second Life’s value for education in that it is “fun.”  She used “fun” 5 times in the 3 sentences of her reply. When I asked why fun would be educational she answered that fun to her was to discover new ways of doing things and that education was also about new things.

Then, there is Flightpaths, the networked novel on Netvibes:

It tells the story of “the story of Yacub, the man who fell from the sky, and Harriet, the woman who witnesses his fall.  It’s a tale of refugees and migrants, consumers and cities, the desperate journey of one man and the bored isolation of one woman.”

It is a project which uses Netvibes capabilities as an aggregator to pull together images, audio, video and narrative from contributors all over the web to build a powerful, innovative way of interacting with content. Perhaps this model can be used by students on collaborative assignments, conveying ideas along a channel where there is something for everyone’s interest, both updated in real time and containing an archive of previously published information.

Finally, there is 21 Steps – a novel , told over a Google Map of the world.  The narrative is put in the little bubbles that signify locations on any Google map and starts remarkably like something written by Raymond Chandler – “I was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time”, unfolding over further 14 chapters. Using the Google maps tool the author has transformed the metaphor of the story as a journey from a figure of speech into a real application with a strong visual component.

Why would these examples have pedagogical value? Because, I believe, they can facilitate thoughtful, engaging learning activities in novel “fun” ways, and can be adapted to work in support of educational goals. They can encourage students to think about the structure of narrative, the ways to experiment with the structure of a story, the importance of building characters, the fun that comes with being creative and innovative.

Sandra Romenska


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