Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Anyway You Can-Storytelling-Inanimate Alice

According to the about section, Inanimate Alice , was originally conceived to be read on screen, actively engaging users to move the story forward.  By using text, images, music, sound effects, puzzles and games, it gives an in-depth, widening perspective to the storyline.  This novel is a compilation of episodes following Alice's growth toward her goal of becoming a game animator and designer and the relationship with her imaginary digital friend, Brad.

The American Association of School Librarians selected Inanimate Alice for their 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning under the Digital Storytelling heading citing these Standards for the 21st Learner: 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning and 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

When users first go to the home page of Inanimate Alice, across the top they will see tabs to Home, About the Project, Teach with Alice, Contact us, Newsletter and a Facebook connection.  Currently there are four episodes:  Episode #1 China, Episode #2 Italy, Episode #3 Russia and Episode #4 Hometown.  There are also four information booklets titled Alice's School Reports under the Born Digital Education caption which give information to educators about using this interactive tool in the classroom.

To best understand the applications for this website, I clicked on Teach with Alice.  At the next page users can select Introduction, Starter Activities Booklet, Teacher Education Pack, Share Inanimate Alice, Information for Parents and Curriculum.  To me one of the most important statements in the introduction is:

Inanimate Alice is a new media fiction that allows students to develop multiple literacies (literary, cinematic, artistic, etc) in combination with the highly collaborative and participatory nature of the online environment.

The starter activities booklet is a PDF document which can be downloaded, saved and printed.  These pages are geared toward Episode #1 for ages 10-14.  This seven page resource contains activities for section 3, 4, 7, 10, 13 and 18 of the first episode.

To obtain an URL link to the teacher education pack, which has been created in collaboration with Promethean Planet, users need to fill out a form giving their name, email address, school or institution, country, their teaching wiki or blog, age group/year/subject, primary purpose and any comments.  When registration is completed they will receive an email immediately giving them the web address.  It directs them to a 34 page PDF document currently divided into four different lesson plans with ten student resource packs covering episodes 1-3.

For each lesson educators are given a general statement addressing digital literacy, student resources, media required to implement the lesson, objectives of the lesson, a written introduction to the lesson which can be shared with students, teaching strategies, follow up activities and student assessment/reflection possibilities.  At the end of the first lesson, for example, in the student section they are asked to write a journal entry after reading episode one based upon five questions.  These questions are not seeking "yes or no" answers but are asking the students to really think about their experiences in reading the first episode of Inanimate Alice.

The share Inanimate Alice section gives you the opportunity to add badges about this site to your  webpage, blog, weebly or ning, letting your readers know you use Inanimate Alice.  The introductory letter to parents is short but highly informative.  Under the final heading in the Teach with Alice section, curriculum, educators are given a list of the common core standards this website meets.  A new major plus for those educators using Edmodo is an Inanimate Alice Edmodo Community page.

The first story takes about ten minutes to view (they say five but there is quite a bit to see).  Viewers are given basic instructions on how to advance or use icons in the upper right-hand corner to go back and forth in the story.  When it first begins a black screen appears with white letters stating Alice's name and age (8); the screen jitters and shakes as if there is a bad connection.  Music and sound effects shift with the illustrations on the screen.

Even though there are only twenty plus arrow mouse clicks, the screens change if the picture is moving, if graphics are added, or if interaction is required by the viewer.  This first plot line is fairly exciting, too.  Alice's father is two days late coming back to the base camp.

Here is one of the initial introductory screens where readers are learning about Alice, her mother and father.  You can see the arrow advance button.  Beneath the snapshots the visuals are moving as if a car is driving down the road.  Above the arrow advance button is written narrative as music and sound effects play in the background.

I have to admit I was completely captivated by this first episode.  As an teacher librarian I could not help but see the possibilities of using Inanimate Alice in the educational setting.  When you couple the episodes with the provided resources this website is A+ all the way.  Well done, AASL.

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