Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Story in Stories Past

I’m currently picking my way through Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future there are many ideas in this book (a future blog will be a review) but it made me think about how much has changed in last fifteen years, and how Stories Past developed.

We started from an episodic story Stoney Grove which debuted in March 1998. It ran through three seasons, and is the story of an Englishman and an American women who meet, win the lottery, buy a ‘great’ house in England and finally fall in love. We did three seasons and concluded with a live interactive wedding. The site used multiple narrative techniques – emails, diaries, newspapers, direct chat and letters (it was the old days!). It also used dynamic html to present the story.

From this site we created an education module. Students were asked to explore a version of the house and try and discover the who, what and where – who lived there, when they lived there, what was happening to the family, and what was happening in the world at that time. We were completely naïve when it came with working with schools and, though we did have some great feedback from a number of students who used it, we never were able to go “commercial.”

So we took the ideas and techniques we’d developed went to museums and archaeology programs and said, let us do this for you using your content. Since then keeping up with the technology changes is a constant challenge but the range of what we can do now is extraordinary. If you can describe what you want, we can find a way of doing it. But our approach is informed by some of the ideas we had when creating Stoney Grove: learning works best when it’s contextual, some (though not all) students learn more from an active/interactive learning style, and that a good module is exploratory and non-linear.

If you’ve got a few hours Stoney Grove is still online!

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