Short description of the case
The class which has been selected to experiment with this new project is a first year class of a Secondary Technical and Technological School specializing in Graphic Design and Communication.
It is a new study-orientation which is present for the first time in our school and foresees a more creative learning approach as it is supported by a technological, scientific and computerized dimension which is part of its specific syllabus.
According to the Board of Education guidelines regarding the new reorganization of schools, whoever achieves a specialized diploma in Graphic Design and Communication must be competent in interpersonal and mass communication and have know-how as regards technology. Such competences are supported by a common cultural area which offers further insight on the complexity of society, implementing technical and critical knowledge as well as a willingness towards change, indispensable for our present times.
Title – Transmedia: gamebooks
Authors: – Paolo Nappo, Vincenza Cupertino
Date of Publication – January 2005
The educational problem
The class which is taking part in this project is a second-year one, made up of 27 students of the Technical and Technological Institute for Graphic Design and Communication.
Their starting levels are diverse and some students also have complicated personal backgrounds which all too often disturb the learning process.
The following situations, supported by documentation, can be highlighted:
- 1 student with diverse abilities who follows a differentiated school programme
- 2 students who attended a different school the previous year
- 1 student who is in a correctional penitentiary
- 1 student with specific learning disabilities (dyscalculia)
- 1 student with severe reduced mobility difficulties which complicate the socialization process
The subjects that will be part of the project are:
- Italian: analysis of a literary text
- Computer Science: using the formal language of Algorithm
- History and Law: transversely, for the promotion of advanced processes of knowledge as regards the migratory phenomenon
The choice to project and create a videogame is a consequence of the necessity to experiment new learning ways and to experiment the use of ICT in order to make didactics closer to the learning schemes of our students by means of a plurality of languages which are those used when putting a videogame together: electronic culture, cinema, animation, literature, painting, cartoons, etc.
The aim is to stimulate collaboration among students through team work, making some situations less dramatic and making students more receptive and participative also during traditional lessons; to stimulate specific logical and creative abilities through discussion (by imagining hypothetical situations and immerging oneself in new problems trying to find a solution to such problems); to create new ways of self-evaluation and shared evaluation; to balance the knowledge of mathematical languages and algorithmic ones, as foreseen by the Italian Board of education guidelines.
We have often asked ourselves “How useful is what we are doing?”.
From a didactic point of view it has been very useful as it has pushed us teachers towards a synchronized way of working, planning, modifying and verifying.
As for the students, it has also been useful as it has allowed them to learn in a different way using both old and new literary books, they have been challenged by Scratch, a new programming language, used for the creation of interactive stories, games and animations that could be shared on the web.
It has been also useful for web surfers who can come across the game The legend of NOVECENTO and find it fun.
The aim? Most certainly the integration between a technical subject like Computer Science and a literary one.
In order to create the game, the students who are highly enthusiastic native digital users, had to look into the novel considering its multimedia aspects and, consequentially, the aim has always been that to have them understand that a formal model of language can generate other models, through which the native digital user is not a mere, passive user but a creator of products that arise from their own creativity.
Without realizing it, although quite young, the students started applying Latin grammar rules which are completely based on logical conjunctions such as et, vel and negations ( and, or and not in English)
Moving a character (puppet) under false or true conditions is not an easy thing to understand nevertheless they started doing in by intuition.
It is important to understand that native digital users are as they are because they were born that way so they communicate through their mobile phones, everyone else is an analphabet digital user.
“Don’t just play with your phones, program them!”
Didactical and motivational successes
- Listening to the audio book by Alessandro Baricco “Novecento” read by Stefano Benni
- Rewriting of “Novecento” by Alessandro Baricco
- Algorithms and flowcharts, the Scratch platform
- Scene-writing of the play
- Graphical representations of the various scenes with the Scratch Promoting the activity by elaborating new audio registrations, new demos for the videos, revision of some of the parts of the scenery, improvement of the graphic aspects, elaboration of logos (both for class and project), selection of musical tracks, graphical elaboration of a brochure, collective storytelling in order to narrate what has happened.
- Italian and Computer Science summative evaluation- throughout the various phases of work, the task carried out by students were evaluated individually and collectively for both of the subjects involved.
While students were at work, an evaluation grid was put together in order to evaluate both individual and group participation
The evaluation grid highlighted two parameters (the group and the individual) according to the various work phases.
|Evaluation Grid for Collaborative and individual work|
|Give a score from 1 to 10||Average|
|Group Work||How good was the group at gathering ideas and individual contributions?||Was good was the group at encouraging others?||Was the work distributed in a well-balanced way among participants?||Were conflicts which aroused within the group resolved appropriately?||Did the various groups work well together?|
|Individual work||How much did the student contribute to the construction of the product?||How much support did student offer to classmate?||How much help did student receive from others through discussion of rough copies and products?||How much participation was there to discussions in class and did student offer new ideas?||Did student use instruments with other classmates within in the group, in order to reach objectives?||Was student able at helping resolve problems within the group and conflicts?||Was student able at critically evaluating proposals from the other members of the group?|
|Implementation in own teaching||Design principle|
|BRAINSTORMINGWhich is the mostly used videogame among students of the class?The story and object are “disassembled”:
the story of the game is narrated (time, space, characters, events etc.)
Proposal: Let’s put together a transmedia project inspired by analysis of the work Novecento by Baricco, paying particular attention to its imaginative dimension
|DP1: Organising activities around shared objects|
|Preliminary activityCollective or individual reading of the chosen textHighlighting on the storytelling aspect of the work, thus creating an appropriate structure for the asset of the project
Class is divided in workgroups and each group will have a specific task
Ø Group 1 – By means of a sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map
Ø Group 2 – By means of a parallel sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map
Ø Group 3 – By means of a simultaneous sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map
Ø Group 4 – By means of a non –linear narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map
Ø Group 5 – find space and time coordinates within text
Ø Group 6 – find space and time coordinates within text
Ø Group 7 – find, within the text the main characters and their characteristics as regards coherence, effectiveness and tri -dimensionality
The groups are disassembled and reassembled so that the need for interdependence arises and so the imaginative universe of the videogame can develop in accordance with the story itself and several expressive techniques.
|DP2: Supporting integration of personal and collective agency and work|
|Students must find the narrative dimensions as regards the emotional aspect of the story.Choice excitement: working on the decisional power of the audience and they way they focus on the scene.Expanded environment: creating new digital locations or real ones which are technologically enhanced.
Implementing narrative processes which can stimulate participation and create connections between people.
|DP3: Emphasizing development and creativity through knowledge transformations and reflection|
|Graphical representation of characters of the narration;Representation and presentation of the scenes which lead to the development of the story through different points of view (single focus, dual focus, multiple focus), offering different levels of experience.||DP4: Fostering long-term processes of knowledge advancement|
|Teacher presents the Scratch programme to class having them do some exercises on it and working on the several levels of difficulty.Students are free to use their imagination. On an interactive white board (IWT) some prompts are presented that will lead to class discussion.For some students, fantasy leads to creativity. For others (those who are familiar with the difficulties of the Scratch platform) a practical solution for the graphic narration is found.
Several scenes are now found after a long class discussion. The class, divided into groups again, are ready to draft the screenplay of the videogame.
The model is taken from those used in cinematography which changes according to the situations.
The platform allows students to work by using all disciplines, interacting with narrative solutions and experimenting within a community.
|DP5: Promoting cross-fertilization of knowledge practices and artifacts across communities|
|Padlet, Google Drive, Scratch||DP6: Providing flexible tools for developing artifacts and practices|