10mTT v 2015.1: Interactive stories and future directions

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.24.21 PMLast Wednesday we had our first sesison of 10-minute Tech Talks, with 20 people present to talk about what technologies they were most excited about or challenged by in 2014, and what they’re looking forward to in 2015. This was followed by my overview of inklewriter, a writing tool that I’ll describe more below.

It was nice last last week to have the luxury to do a quick round of introductions and hear a little bit about the technology projects that Yale instructors in Chinese, isiZulu, Greek, Arabic, and many other languages have in mind for the coming year. A few people mentioned they wanted to become more familiar with specific tools and practices, like blogging; I thought in coming months we might like to review some of the blogging and related options available to language classes–including the new CoursePress, AcademicPress, and CampusPress services from ITS (the follow-up services to Yale’s Academic Commons based on the WordPress blogging platform).

Other participants talked about the video and digital storytelling projects they’re looking to expand this year. And a surprise for me was the desire expressed by several people to mine deeper into features and use of Yale’s learning management system Classes*v2, as well as a newer system called Canvas that is also available to those who’d like to try it out. It looks like we might want to have a 10-min. Tech Talk session focused explicitly on Classes*v2.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.29.18 PMMy tech talk was on inklewriter, a neat browser-based, interactive story writing and publishing tool from Inkle, a video game company that has won awards for interactive fiction games like 80 Days. Inklewriter allows you and your students to create primarily written texts where you’d like the reader to interact by choosing between options that the author presents as often as s/he likes. You can see an example of a completed story, from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, on their website; I made this silly example for the tech talk to show how it looks with a non-English language. Thinking about it a little more, I can imagine inklewriter might be interesting to try in the language classroom for:

  • Individual or collaborative writing of short stories
  • Exploring related cultural concepts and cross-cultural comparisons (thinking of adaptations of Cultura activities, for instance)
  • Having students imagine and extend short textbook dialogues for practicing grammar, pragmatics, and more
  • Making an imaginary travel guide to a city
  • …and there must be many more…

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few links and resources that were being passed around: I copied and handed out a list of Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014, a collection that’s updated every year and is a pretty widely circulated in educational technology circles (see how many of the top 20 you use in your teaching!) Through the process of working with faculty and Edward O’Neill, on the Educational Technologies team over at ITS, I just discovered this great Yale AITS list of teaching tools with categories for active learning, online collaboration, video and more (thanks, Edward!). And there in person at the tech talks we were lucky to have a very familiar face here at the CLS, Trip Kirkpatrick, who’s now with ITS and the Center for Teaching and Learning. He mentioned some resources he’s put together ofor integrating maps and timelines into learning activities; we hope he’ll be able to join us next time to introduce some of these in person. 

As usual, we’re keeping track of most of the online tools mentioned on our Diigo group page. Please feel free to join and add to the collection (and consider how you might use Diigo in your classes too, to compile, annotate, and share any kinds of content you use in your classes).

Our next 10-minute Tech Talks will happen on Wednesday, February 18, and we’re looking for presenters! Please email me if you’re interested, and leave a comment below with your response to any of this. After all, with Blizzard Juno moving in and Yale classes cancelled Tuesday, we’ve all got a little extra time to talk tech now 🙂


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