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Getting off the Straight and Narrow: Exploiting Non-Linear, Interactive Narrative Structures in Digital Stories for Language Teaching

Digital storytelling is already used extensively as a tool in language education, and its uses include teacher-created materials for delivering content or offering skills practice, or in creative projects for student writing, speaking, and media literacy development. Web documentaries, particularly in terms of design and narrative structure, provide an extension of the digital storytelling concept, specifically in terms of increased interactivity. Using models of interactive, non-linear storytelling, derived from computer game design, and which are typically exploited by web documentaries, this presentation aims to illustrate how digital stories may be developed into more interactive experiences for learners. In particular, the presentation will show an example of teacher-created digital story, developed with the editing and publishing software ‘Klynt’, which allows learners to choose and follow their own individualised paths through the story. Interactivity often means a more engaging, personalised experience for the user, but in terms of educational, instructional design, it also makes such stories more adaptable to the specific needs, interests and abilities of the individual learner. Thus stories that are built on such narrative lines can, for example, allow language learners the option to access additional information on themes, characters or topics in a story in order to help them understand that story better. In certain kinds of non-linear narratives users may also follow their own areas of interest independently to learn about them in more depth, and at a tangent to the story, before returning to the main narrative. In more complex forms of narratives, separate pathways through the story, perhaps responding to the language proficiency and level of help required by a learner, may even be provided. The user, moreover, can often access different kinds of media (such as text, video, images, etc.), depending on their own preferences, through the hyperlinked design of such stories. In addition, help with language, such as glossaries or language exercises can be worked into the design of the story, should and when the learner require it. Ultimately, in this way, interactive designs derived from both computer gaming and web documentaries can be exploited with specifically educational objectives and concerns in mind in the development of digital storytelling for the language classroom.


Andrew Prosser    
English Education
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Korea, Republic Of

Andrew Prosser is an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, where he works in the Department of English Education. Mr Prosser holds a Masters degree in Educational Technology and TESOL from Manchester University and is a qualified CELTA instructor. His research interests include digital storytelling, LMS technology and interactivity in CALL design.


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