Interactive Stories

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We have already talked about writing. In online courses, writing is often the predominant activity. It’s not just styles, grammar, and perfect APA citations that matter, of course. There are lots of skills that students must demonstrate when writing academic papers.

What we don’t include as much is this dimension of interacting with writing (stories). Stories can lead you down different paths based on decisions (choices) made at certain crucial points in the narrative. Digital interactive stories have been around for a long time, as different technologies to support this sort of writing and user interface have been used – from a web of wikis to simple code to complex productions (like alternate endings in full-feature movies).

Another tool came across, Inklewriter. It may be considered as a more or less low learning curve tool, which allows you to create your own scenarios or have students (in groups or individually) do the same as a project (sample story). In fact, this can be used in Seminars – which due to their extended term can allow for a more complex story – as well as in a number of eight-week courses with longer projects. This can be both set up to have other students interact with the content, or have a predictive story when students will have weekly predictions as to how their case/experience might go from now, and then at the end of the next week reflect on how accurate their predictions were, or an entirely new choice needs to be included. It’s possible to create one story per course, with all students taking turns contributing to the same story over the term. It may make better sense to have them work in a group, and then share the group’s story in the final weeks of the course with the class. They can be personal and factual, or fictional, or futuristic. They may even be used for influencing policies as simulation models. In other words, you can totally choose your own story!

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