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The learning design involves students developing an interactive multimedia program. The Learning Design Sequence is illustrated as follows.

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In Interactive Stories, students work in groups to create an interactive multimedia module, usually in the form of a "choose your own adventure" story or "conversation" with a user. The end result is a multimedia version of a "choose your own adventure" story. One side of the "conversation" is provided by digital video segments played on the computer. After each segment, the user is presented with a set of branching points, usually presented as text. As a choice is made, a subsequent video segment is played, resulting in a complex interweaving of narratives and responses. Students are asked to create one of these for their peers to use.

Introduction: The first activity involves introducing students to the project, the concept, the specific learning outcomes, and the schedule of activities. This session usually involves demonstrating examples of previous student projects, including time for students to explore the examples. It may be important to provide students with specific guidelines about the scope and style of project that is expected, particularly for beginner language learners. For example, as beginner language learners are yet to develop an extensive vocabulary, you may suggest simple scenarios such as shopping exchanges.

Scripting: The second activity has students working in small groups (two or three students) scripting their stories/conversations/dialogues. This activity can be facilitated by providing students with guidelines for developing an "Interactive Stories" script and/or asking them to deconstruct a simple example first.

Following this activity it is useful to provide formative assessment in the form of feedback regarding the script. This can save a great deal of time in the filming/editing stage by ensuring the script "makes sense". It is also an opportunity to improve the quality of the final production by making language corrections such as grammar, spelling and context.

Technology training: The next stage is referred to as the technology training session and involves providing students with instruction regarding use of the digital video camera (including basic filming tips), video capture and editing using iMovie, and the multimedia authoring using StoryTime. Depending on time and scope of project, this stage may be divided into two sessions, the video parts before the filming stage, and the multimedia authoring after.

Creating the multimedia "story": The next stage involves each group of students gaining access to a digital video camera and tape. Tripod, lighting and microphone may improve experience and final production, however are not considered essential. Students often use a variety of props and locations for this stage. It is essential that a booking process be established to handle the use of equipment in this stage. It is likely that each group will take a few hours for filming.

Once filming is complete, each group will then require access to computer hardware and software. The first step requires the digital video camera and involves importing the filmed footage from the camera into iMovie. Once the footage has been imported, students will then edit the video as desired and export each short video clip from iMovie as a QuickTime movie for inclusion into their Interactive Story (the camera is not required during the editing stage). The last step is to transfer the script into StoryTime, construct the appropriate links and insert the video clips.

Presenting: The final stage involves each student group presenting the final productions to the whole class. This session is usually a lot of fun as students share the experiences of their journey.

The sequence of activities for the Interactive Stories learning design has been refined over a number of projects. The sequence of the technical session is the most variable, however it is the experience of the authors that this activity is best sequenced shortly before student use the skills learned. Dividing the technical sessions into two parts can be useful to facilitate this, however many students reported that it is useful to understand the technical issues at the outset as it helps them to frame their project.

The presentation activity may need to be carried over more than one teaching session depending on the number of groups.

The learning design described here has been developed with a number of variations. One variation has students creating short films rather than Interactive Stories. The advantage of this is that it reduces the level of technical training and allows students to develop and focus their creativity on the filming aspects. The limitation of this approach is that it may not encourage students to explore the written aspect of the target language.




Previous Examples:
Examples of the work of previous students can be the most effective way to develop students ' understanding of the learning activity.

Dialogue Template: The dialogue template is a document that describes an approach for developing an Interactive Stories script.

Software Documentation: The learning design described here uses two computer software programs: iMovie and StoryTime. The manuals for these applications are useful resources fort students.

Digital Video Camera: Students require access to a digital video camera and tape for the filming and capturing activity. Tripod, lighting and microphone may improve experience and final production, however are certainly not essential.

Computer Hardware and Software: Students require access to a computer with iMovie and StoryTime software available. iMovie is a consumer-style video editing application for the Macintosh OS computers. Similar applications are also now becoming available for Windows OS computers.

The resources are an essential component of this learning design as they contribute directly to some of the learning outcomes. It is expected that students will develop skills and abilities with using digital media equipment such as digital video cameras and software.

It is essential that all of the above resources are provided. As noted previously, tripod, lighting and microphone are optional.




The learning supports are a critical component of this project, particularly the timing and access to these supports. The role of the content expert or teacher is also important, but can vary depending on context of implementation.

Teacher facilitation: The important first learning support involves the teacher facilitating students understanding of the project and developing parameters or boundaries for the final productions. Students' need support in understanding the scope of the project as it in unlike an essay where one can specify a word limit.

Formative assessment: The second learning support is formative assessment of the draft scripts prepared by students. This is an opportunity to provide direct feedback to students regarding the language accuracy of their work. Issues of grammar, spelling and context are important. This stage may be linked to the assessment for the project; i.e. a small percentage of the mark may be allocated at this stage.

Technology training: The next learning support is the technology training activity. This session may be conducted by the teacher or a technical support person. The advantage of this activity being conducted by a teacher is that is provides the students with a level of confidence in the activity; i.e. "if the teacher can do it then I can do it". It also promotes a level of ownership by the teacher. The disadvantage is that a teacher who is not familiar or confident with the technology may give students the impression that it is "too difficult" or may not cover important aspects of the process.

Guidelines, technical support and team work: The final three learning supports are all critical to the success of this learning design. The first is paper guidelines describing a few of the important technical tasks required in the project. The second is technical support (reasonably accessible) in the computer lab. As with many projects involving technology, students invariably come across a particular issue that requires advice or assistance. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to proceed until the particular issue is addressed and therefore if students do not have reasonable access to technical support they can become frustrated and despondent. This leads directly to the very important and final learning support, which is team work. Students should be strongly encouraged to draw on the other members of their group and the wider class for assistance when these issues arise.

It is the opinion of the authors that the role of the teacher is critical to the success of this learning design. Computers will always crash and students will always get stuck. However a teacher that displays ownership and confidence in the project will facilitate students' understanding of these problems, allowing them to concentrate on the benefits of the project.

The formative assessment of the scripts can be quite time-consuming and can be considered optional. As mentioned previously, it provides an opportunity to improve the quality of the final productions by attending to language corrections.


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