Tag: interactive (Page 2 of 3)

Using Digital Storytelling in e-Learning

In an attempt to gather some of the foremost research in transformational storytelling and innovative curriculum design, I offer this article from eLearn Magazine. This article discusses how creativity and innovation can enhance e-learning systems based on digital storytelling. It goes as far as to propose a story creation model called “movement-oriented design” (MOD)  for systematically developing effective digital stories, in conjunction with story creation principles articulated by Robert McKee, a Hollywood guru of script writing.

Read the original here.

Some Highlights:

Digital Storytelling
With advancements in digital audio and video capture technology and editing software, digital storytelling is becoming a part of modern life, making it easier to create innovative e-learning content presented as digital stories. Such innovative content can not only make courses more attractive, but can also lead to deep learning.

Some of the new pedagogical models based on storytelling include: story-centred curriculum, proposed by Roger Schank (2007), and scenario-based curriculum development, suggested by Ray Bareiss & Sukhjit Singh (2007). The common theme that permeates these pedagogical models is: “learning through stories.”

Stories have been used as educational medium since prehistoric times as they encapsulate four crucial aspects of human communication: information, knowledge, context, and emotions (Norman, 1993). Embedding stories as digital media, i.e., digital storytelling, is therefore not only desirable, but almost essential for producing engaging e-learning content . . .

e-Learning and Digital Storytelling
E-learning systems that just transform the traditional educational content (for example, books or lecture notes) into digital media are not successful; because, e-learning content that presents only facts and figures can loose the learners attention more easily than a good lecturer, who can capture the learners’ attention with personal charisma. With e-learning content, the lack of personal connection (with a real teacher) can be overcome by creating “educational stories” that embody good storytelling principles.

Good storytelling principles have been articulated by the masters of storytelling since Aristotle. These principles can also be applied to develop good educational stories. To capture and maintain the learner’s interest, a story’s narrative must connect with the learner’s emotions and create emotional movement. Any learning that happens with a story, especially one that provides an emotionally moving experience, is much more persistent, and therefore, easy to recall.

McKee Principles
Robert McKee, the Hollywood guru of film script writing has articulated principles for creating effective stories (McKee, 1998). A subset of these “McKee Principles” can be applied for creating good educational stories as well. To achieve emotional movement, McKee proposes five stages for designing the “spine” of a story: 1) inciting incident, 2) progressive complications, 3) crisis, 4) climax, and 5) resolution.

Movement Oriented Design
Movement Oriented Design (MOD) is a framework proposed by the author for creating contextualized stories, that is, stories that work in a given context, for example e-learning (Sharda(2), 2007). MOD views every temporal presentation as a story. From a MOD perspective, even this article is a story. Every good story should have three clearly identifiable components: a beginning, a middle, and an end; called Begin (B), Middle (M), and End (E) in the MOD terminology.

The most fundamental element of the MOD methodology is a Movement, which is defined as a micro story with clearly identifiable begin, middle, and end components. A good beginning should entice the user, wanting to find out more. The middle should be used to deliver the essential educational content, and the end should conclude the story unit. Wherever possible, the end of one story unit should build a link to the next. A story unit that does not have all three components (B, M, E) will most likely be ineffective. When creating e-learning content, often the authors overload it with useful information without linking these with an effective narrative; consequently the learners’ interest wanes.

Read the rest here.

Interview with Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling

Inkling is a forward-thinking company that produces a set of tools that businesses use to build, manage, and distribute digital content. They are on the forefront of what content, stories, and books may become. I am always interested in how stories can become more mixed-media and interactive. They seem to be on the right track.

In this interview with Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling, he discusses the future of books. Read the original.


Almost every day I wonder why the book hasn’t been reinvented. New technologies have helped us make the publishing process and marketplace faster and more efficient, but the notion of the book itself hasn’t really changed. Why? Shouldn’t the book adapt to our already time-compressed lives? What will books mean to children who are growing up with iPhones and tablets, constant interruptions from the network? Ask any preteen and they’ll tell you that they find what they need on YouTube. So will they read? If so, what? I don’t think the answers are within the book-publishing industry. A business model that starts with exploiting writers doesn’t leave room for innovation. And Amazon is no different from the calcified establishment it pretends to upend. Enter Matt MacInnis, the Canada-born chief executive officer of San Francisco book-publishing platform Inkling. Matt is one of my favorite debaters: He is articulate and possesses an acerbic wit. More importantly, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He also likes to talk, as you will see. A few months ago we met for coffee and ended up talking for hours about books, publishing, native advertising, content, startups and life. I left out the startup stuff and instead have focused on publishing and how books are (and aren’t) changing with the times. I enjoyed this conversation and hope you will too.

Om Malik: How would you describe yourself and what your company does?

Matt MacInnis: I think the word “book” is the tricky word. We are a publishing platform, and sometimes the thing that people create with Inkling Habitat and Inkling is a book, and sometimes it”™s not. Sometimes it”™s much more flexible in new categories like learning platforms, where people take assessment and get re-mediated using Inkling content. I don”™t think we call that a book, but I don”™t know what we do call it. That”™s the problem of the people who are creating those things using our technology.

OM: We always look at the formats of the past and try to apply them to new mediums. For example, we put the old radio show format on television and taught that it was “”

MM: That was Tv.

Read the rest.

(Ten) Innovative Idea Winners of Game-Based Learning

This incredible showcase highlights ten ideas for gamifying learning, both in and outside the classroom. These concepts are not that complex, and most don’t require a huge amount of technical skill, but they can do wonders in keeping students engaged.

Originally from classroom-aid.com

The top 10  innovators were announced and listed here: Meet 10 Innovative Educators Using Game-Based Learning. These ideas could be inspiring for game industry teams, educators or even parents.

  • Journalism : A computer game is envisioned allowing students to travel to historic or imaginary crime scenes and act as reporters or investigators.
  • Science : In an in-flight journey as a young bird following migration routes and discovering ecosystems, habitats, food chains, and life cycles along the way, students must accomplish missions that involve identifying, befriending, and helping the different species of animals and birds in the area.
  • Curriculum APPlications : Students earn points by finding examples of the science learning content within popular interactive games, they create a mini-poster about the connection which can be displayed on one section of the classroom wall “leader board”.
  • Challenge the World : It”™s about opening up “World Math Day” ““ a three-day global competition ““ to more students in more subject areas, the competition would motivate and engage students in learning, while helping to build their understanding of other cultures around the world.

Read the rest here.

(Five-ish) Steps to a Creative, Mixed Media, Interactive Story

I talk a lot about different ideas for mixed-media, interactive stories, but how do we actually create something. What are the steps? What does the  process look like? Is this really something I can do?

Yes. Let me show you.

From step one.

1. Inspiration

The most common question at any book signing is “where do you get your ideas?” That is a subject for about a thousand books on its own, and to begin this walk through of telling mixed-media, interactive stories, it may be a bit beyond our scope. We will start with one of the most time-honored launching pads: the writing prompt.

I have a copy of The Amazing Story Generator which I have used to concoct the following three scenes.

  • Penniless after a failed business venture, an old lady with twenty cats solves a ten-year-old murder
  • After a monthlong fast, a North Korean scientist forgets to mail an important letter
  • While on a second honeymoon, a small town mayor is initiated into a secret cult

And from here, we construct a story.

2. Story

I chose those three, bizarrely disconnected plot lines on purpose. My stories always begin with scenes, characters, or emotional moments. Interesting bits of news or questions that I connect to personally. Then, I ask question to connect these bits into a functioning story. The above prompts are not really connected at all, but we can create connections and birth a beautiful story.

Story Fundamentals

Let’s begin by understanding what a story is and has, at least for our purposes. At its most basic level, a hero’s life is at balance in their world, ordinary as it is for them. Something happens to knock that balance out of whack and sends that hero on some sort of quest to set the world to rights again. Along the way, lots of things try to stop the hero, and a few things (like mentors) will be the hero’s aid. Even more important, our hero grows. They begin with a want (to set the world right again), a wound (something bad that keeps them from growing), and a need (to be get past the wound). The story takes the hero through the growth. They are not the same at the end, and neither is the world, but this new world is in balance, at least for the hero.

Yes, that’s all from my treatment on the Hero’s Journey, and (to me) the simplest structure to create powerful stories. I’m using it here as a sort-of-formula. Normally, I’m not that rigid, but this is a blog post, after all.

Questions to Construct Stories

Now that we know what we’re aiming for, how can we connect those above prompts? Well, in a virtually infinite number of ways. Here is how my questioning path led to a story outline.

  • Is the important letter connected to the murder? Yes, the letter was an last minute cancellation of a contract assassination.
  • Why was the scientist wanting to assassinate someone in the first place? Obviously because they were rivals in some secret government research.  He changed his mind when, after his fast, he believed his god spoke to him in a vision. Now, I’m changing my prompt from “forgets to mail” to “fails to mail”.
  • So, what stops the scientist from mailing the letter? The secret cult also wants the rival dead, so they dispose of the scientist and let the hit man take care of the rival.
  • Why does the secret cult care? They are an old order that believes they must protect the world from abomination of medicine. Both scientists were working on advanced genetics.
  • The secret cult uses mind control serum to indoctrinate their members.
  • That means that the small town-mayor is going to be the villian of our story. He is recruited by the cult to dispatch of the cat lady, because the cat-lady is stumbling upon the truth.
  • What is the cat-lady’s wound and growth? She is scared of being independent and has been relying on others to get her through. She learns that she can take care of herself — and others. The wound, her son passed away from an infection years ago. She couldn’t save him. She isn’t capable. Not great, but it’ll work.

And I can keep going. Suffice it to say, that works out enough plot for this post.

The Treatment

Now that I have the connections, lets fashion it into a short description of the story for our purposes. Remember the story fundamentals. Our hero will be the cat lady and our villain will be the secret cult that is manipulating the small-town mayor.

Beth spends her days at home, dreaming of ways to become independent. Of ways to stop needing to rely on others. Of taking care of herself as she once had. But, she is too afraid. What if she can’t? What if others rely on her? What if she lets them down? Her latest hopes were dashed when a business venture — that she invested everything she had into — fell through. Not just fell through: the CEO of the company died suddenly and the headquarters were destroyed, taking all of the research with it and bankrupting the entire process. The genetics lab was promising to enhance vision, reflexes, and memory. Now, it’s all gone.

Normally Beth would just wallow in her misery. But she’s through wallowing. She does some more digging and finds that there have been lots of similar incidents from around the world. Then she remembers the story her father told her. Of when he was a boy and his father (a North Korean Scientist) was murdered. She still has the last letter her grandfather meant to send. It’s never been opened. Now is the time.

The letter describes a secret cult that will stop at nothing to “preserve the human race from medicine.” Fascinated, Beth digs some more. The cult, every watching for those who may know its secrets, discovers her and recruits a small-town mayor who is sympathetic to their cause and on a second honeymoon nearby. They drug him and brainwash him to go after Beth.

A lot of stuff happens in the middle. You know: mystery, intrigue, blah, blah, blah.

In the end, Beth and the Mayor (who we will call Roger) must rely on each other to defeat and expose the cult. Beth’s growth is complete when (in the final climax) she surrenders any control and relies totally on Roger. That doesn’t make her weak, or helpless, or a loser. And, she realizes that she is capable.

Of course, they save the world.

Wow, what a weird story, right? In any case, its enough to start splitting it into mixed-media and interactive bits.

3-4. Mixed-Media, Interactive Awesomeness

Our mantra is “don’t do anything for novelty sake.” That said, what parts of this story would best be told in which mediums? Well, you could definitely have a journal from the North Korean scientist with all his clues and suspicions. Images, sketches, very visual. For that matter, a few audio recordings would be great two.

Beth’s story would best be done in narrative prose so we can get inside her mind and really grow with her. Ditto with Roger’s storyline, but maybe a touch less.

What about the person Roger is on a second-honeymoon with? If Roger is sneaking away to get at Beth, that would make Roger’s wife pretty suspicious. Let’s give her a smartphone and have her do her own investigation, snapping pictures and taking videos to tell that part of the story. That isn’t just a gimmick. Images in that way produce great suspense as the audience must decide what in the image is important and what is not. The author can do amazing things with misdirection

As far as interactivity goes, I like the idea of making the journal interactive. Let’s give the audience the ability to explore the journal and piece the mystery together herself.

That leaves us with a novel that alternates between photographs, novel prose, and printed journal entries alongside an interactive journal. And, for the fun of it, a hidden track where one of Beth’s cats narrate the story through a feline POV.

5. Collaboration and Awesomeness

That’s a lot. More than I could do myself, admittedly. I would start, as I have, with a fleshed out draft all in text. In it, I would break the scenes into photos, prose, or journal and describe what the photos show and the journal says. Once I have my story more-less perfect, I can approach others to help flesh it out. Working together, we are stronger.

I will talk more about my format experiments in a later post.

For now, I hope you were able to follow this and see that, even from bizarre beginnings, a mixed-media, interactive story is possible. Think what you could do with an actually good idea.

Comments, please. What’s your process?

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm.

I’m always talking about how the sky is the limit when it comes to interactive, mixed-media books. Well, Bradley Grimm has pushed that limit even further. This kid’s picture book includes an app that, when the phone is pointed at the book, brings the story to life in 3D animation. Awesome concept. I’m a little jealous to be honest.

Everyone, lets get in on the ground floor and help him out!

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm

(Seven) Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (from Henry Jenkins)

Henry Jenkins is one of the leading researchers studying transmedia, fanfiction, and media consumption. In graduate school, I read lots of his books and he is quoted in my thesis. Here, he details seven core principles to telling mixed-media, interactive stories (transmedia in his words). This article is pretty technical and long, but really great. I’ve pulled out the seven with a quote, just to wet your appetite.

Read the rest.

  1. Spreadability vs. Drillability – “the capacity of the public to engage actively in the circulation of media content through social networks and in the process expand its economic value and cultural worth”
  2. Continuity vs. Multiplicity – Is the story linear from point a to b or is it fragmented?
  3. Immersion vs. Extractability – “These two concepts refer to the perceived relationship between the transmedia fiction and our everyday experiences.”
  4. Worldbuilding – The internal consistency of the characters, plot, and setting
  5. Seriality – Lots of smaller stories combined together to form a larger narrative.
  6. Subjectivity – The story outside the story, such as fanfiction, twitter wars, and cosplay.
  7. Performance – The reader performs the story in life.

From the Article:

I first introduced my concept of transmedia storytelling in my Technology Review column in 2003 and elaborated upon it through the “Searching for the Oragami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling” chapter in Convergence Culture. For me, the origami unicorn has remained emblematic of the core principles shaping my understanding of transmedia storytelling, a kind of patron saint for what has emerged as increasing passionate and motivated community of artists, storytellers, brands, game designers, and critics/scholars, for whom transmedia has emerged as a driving cause in their creative and intellectual lives. We all have somewhat different definitions of transmedia storytelling and indeed, we don”™t even agree on the same term ““ with Frank Rose talking about “Deep Media” and Christy Dena talking about “Cross-media.”

As Frank has put it, same elephant, different blind men. We are all groping to grasp a significant shift in the underlying logic of commercial entertainment, one which has both commercial and aesthetic potentials we are still trying to understand, one which has to do with the interplay between different media systems and delivery platforms (and of course different media audiences and modes of engagement.)

I will devote more time to applying some of these principles and reviewing the core concepts in later posts.

Read the entire article.

Storytelling With WordPress

In trolling the vast interwebs for research, I found several great resources to create storytelling websites using the popular (and free) web-software, WordPress. For those that don’t know, WordPress is a mini-content-management system that runs about 20% of all the websites in the internet. It’s totally free, made by community volunteers, open source (so you can modify it), and very easy to use. Usually, it makes websites, but the links below give tips on transforming that website into an interactive story. Enjoy!

WordPress Storytelling – A great introduction with examples of how people are using WordPress to tell stories.

Storytelling in WordPress – Another showcase of WordPress stories.

Immersive Storytelling – The next step, how to get started.

A DIY Guide to WordPress Storytelling – Another step by step guide. Very readable. Great people over at WPMU.

The Aesop Story Engine – A great tool to get you started. Does a lot of the technical stuff for you. Easy to use.

Building Stories Using a Multimedia Storyteller – Another tool that gives you more control, but is a little more tech-y.


Fellow Revolutionaries

Storytelling is every-changing, and it is awesome! A shift in the way we share stories is happening all around. Tales are becoming more mixed-media, more interactive. They move between text and images and sounds. We get to be the characters and influence the plot. Stories are becoming more than passive things we enjoy.

There is a revolution, a revolution this blog is dedicated to.

But, I am not the only one sparking the flame. Here are some other artists and storytellers who are pushing the envelope in mixed-media, interactive stories.

Brian Selznick

I personally owe this guy a lot. His most recent books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck are both told in pictures and text. That is the story alternates between pictures and novel chapters. It was eye-opening to me. My current project, Allyson Darke, took the same approach, though for a decidedly older audience.

Besides be a revolutionary in that sense, he is a great illustrator. The level of detail and charm in is works is astounding. Check him out!

Read More

Seven Resources for Educational Games

I discuss educational stories a lot, but that story may take many forms. One of the most powerful is through educational games. Here is a simple list of ways to get you started created engaging games for an educational purpose.

Do It Yourself

  1. How to make Art and Craft Games
  2. Make Fun Quizzes and Games
  3. Educational Games on Pintrest
  4. ClassTools: A huge resource of games and curriculum
  5. Sharendipity: makes it possible for students and teachers to quickly create and share simple video games
  6. PurposeGames: free service that allows users to create custom games, share games, and play games
  7. W2L: Thousands of online educational games

More From Free4Teachers.com

Cross media Storytelling

While rambling around the interwebs, I came across this fantastic slideshare. A conversation about stories that are mixed-media and interactive. This one’s a little more theoretical, but it lays a good foundation for defining mixed-media, interactive stories and begins to touch on how to tell these stories.

Check out cross media storytelling

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