I hope everyone is enjoying the waning days of Spring Break 2010!
Storytelling seems to become much more ‘show and tell’ in an interactive environment, in addition to just telling the story; you are now able to show it as well. This has implications for academia that I think is just beginning to be understood and felt. The Washington Post article about the Inauguration is a perfect example; a map of this kind can be used to demonstrate a timeline of any event, place or person with an interactive component that allows the reader to experience the action. When reading the WaPo article, one relives the Inauguration, even if you weren’t there, allowing multiple perspectives and different stories that intersect (or not) within the greater story. This sort of interaction has profound implications for teaching, especially teaching history.
To my mind (not being a teacher) it seems that one of the most difficult aspects of teaching history is helping students to understand that events don’t occur in isolation, not only are there multiple causes for an event, but there are also simultaneous relevant events happening at the same time. To borrow an extremely broad example from the other class that I am taking, the History of the Book, we are talking about the printing press and the beginning of the Renaissance, a time in which a lot of things were going on at the same time, all influencing and affecting each other. Text, like a history textbook, utilizes a linear format to tell the story, but using a digital environment one can create a timeline, multiple points of interest, allowing the viewer to see some of the things that were occurring at the same time and how everything blended together.
Another great example is the alternate reality games. Does this remind anyone else of the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular about 20+ years ago? The player gets to place themselves in different times and places and can choose their fate, and if that doesn’t work go back and try something else. In addition, the player gets to really experience whatever that alternate reality is, becoming a part of it. By allowing players to make decisions about what happens to them, the players can appreciate the consequences in a way that just doesn’t resonate as well if someone is reading about actions that have happened to other people.