Interactivity, as I noted in my comment on another post, is an element of storytelling in many cultures. Audience and storyteller reinforce each other, make noise, move, elicit the story from the teller, who never tells it twice the same way. Audience members form the story with the teller, or become a chorus, or call for changes. We have perhaps lived in a period in the West in which storytelling was less interactive than it had been throughout time and elsewhere. That is because we have lived through the emergence of print and broadcast media, journalism, etc. in which stories became mass produced articles of consumption delivered in full color, moving, with sounds and music, and lacking any sort of 2-way expression. We sat motionless in front of the box (radio or tv), on the box (desk or couch or theater seat) and were expected to be a polite listener. No more. Computers, initially a passive medium for reading and an active one for producing text and image, are now Portals to a Lost World of interactive storytelling, a global interactive medium. The interactive element has returned, but we need to re-learn it. I really enjoyed looking at all of the different examples of literary, artistic and technological storytelling–Jonathan’s TED presentation on feelings is a bit on the techno-side but makes great abstract, moving art, and is quite meaningfully conceived and constructed, unlike a lot of techno-art that leaves the viewer wondering what it all means.
As for the classroom examples, I have had my own humble experience of transformation. Two girls in my history class were always distracted, seldom prepared, and usually pulling each other off task, looking hopelessly innocent when I called them on it. An assignment I do for studying Greek mythology involves having students do a comic strip or other rendering of a myth. These two girls marshalled some family members, put them in chitons and videotaped the story of Helen of Troy and Priam. It was amazing, since both of them had trouble formulating essays, but were quite good at the more visual, active medium. The students and teachers in the programs described in the readings combined the virtues of learning the technologies, teamwork, generating topics and projects from their worlds, and using video and film to change their communities. Writing papers as proof of learning is overrated and tiresome (I am near the end of coursework and still haven’t written a single paper I would want to read, or “only a historian would care.” On the other hand, working on web projects, leading & watching discussions in workshops, and learning digital media have enhanced my experience. The cult of the individual student, the solitary, one-way communication only for the teacher’s eyes, and for a grade, has killed higher education’s lure for many young people-especially boys. The problem is suspension of life in school, waiting until school is “over” to contribute and truly express oneself. This is changing and the nature of learning and teaching is changing for the better due to these tools.

Category: W9: Interactivity
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6 Responses
  1. jgiampa says:

    I enjoyed your comment about the “cult” of the individual solitary student is over. That is truly the gift of all this social interactivity and technology. The good news is that we now have more tools to express ourselves and almost everyone…and I am speaking about teachers are on the same page. There are very few people anymore who have not entered the digital age in the classroom. In my own teaching environment I do not use technology because it simply is not available in the room.

  2. jhubai says:

    I agree and have argued all along that digital projects would especially help students who struggle with the written word and give them new avenues to succeed. Some of my favorite classes in college were my photography classes where we were discussing our work and helping each other the be better. This type of interaction brings some much to the student’s education, social abilities and personal self.

    I do not think the written word should be abandoned however. Some students excel in the area and do not think well in a visual sense. The written word is important. It helps us in our jobs, in grad applications, in resume writing and in digital storytelling. There are group projects that students interact on and write as a final project, I also think it is good for the student to sometimes be solitary and think of things on their own and create a project that is entirely of there thoughts and the way they want to do the project. As far as higher education, its needs help. You will find no argument from me there! But I think it is just more than writing papers that needs to change. It needs to be made fun and exciting, whether through the written word or digitally,and I think more positive discussion will help.

  3. gcheong says:

    I would also argue that papers have their place in learning valuable communication and analytic skills quite different than a visual presentation media might provide. Papers help trace thought patterns by making an argument and providing evidence that some topics would be present a larger challenge by doing the same thing visually. While we might dream in movie time, I do not think in movie time and my thought clouds still seem better suited for writing. Kids need to learn how to think, argue, and analyze… teachers may not be prepared or know how to impart these lessons just through multimedia lessons to really consider eliminating papers. Despite the many options from cable television and movies, books are still around after all!

  4. jjanes says:

    I agree that papers do not necessarily mean that a student has learned anything, but I think that papers will remain a vital part of the educational process. Not all students respond the same to the new digital processes for learning, and I believe that a well instructed combination of reading, paper writing, and creative processes are necessary in the classroom. While I believe that creative projects involving technology are a wonderful (and necessary!) aspect of growing educational tools, they can also be just as isolating to some students as more traditional forms of teaching.

  5. rfachner says:

    It seems to be that some students express themselves differently than others, and that it might be necessary to incorporate different ways of learning into curricula, both papers and visual/digital learning. I think that good old fashioned book learning isn’t going to go away, and papers will probably always be used as a measurement of progress and knowledge, but that other measures will be employed as well, using digital means to engage students who might not respond as well to traditional ways of learning and being tested.

  6. cwarburton says:

    I agree with the previous posts that some people have the aptitude to express themselves better on paper than they do in a digital storytelling format. I like this story of student engagement–how great that they were able to grasp history through this project! I think one thing that we haven’t addressed in our class, and may be out of the scope of it, is whether linear thinking through essays should somehow be taught in digital storytelling.