Game designers have to think rhetorically as they plan their projects. They research settings, locations, and time periods for authenticity. They think through who makes up their audience and what kind of tone will be most effective to reach that audience. They take aesthetics and document design seriously. And most importantly, game designers take so long to complete a project because they know that first draft is never final.
Now that Storium, the online storytelling game, is launched, I’m excited about all the pedagogical possibility it has. In a fun collaboratively environment, student writers can practice the same skills I just described in game design that are transferable across genres and disciplines. I’m so excited by the platform that I’ve been designing a course built around it. You can see the current syllabus here.
Working with Storium in the course, student texts can be central to creating a collaborative learning environment. In the course I’m working on, they will research and compose a storytelling project that will become the basis for reflection and peer feedback for the rest of the term. With Storium, writers can collaboratively compose a multimodal story with text, images, and sound, as each participant takes turns contributing to a scene as either a narrator who introduces the scene or a character who continues its development. Writers choose or design a theme and setting from, with input from Storium’s library of story-development tools. For every scene they write for the course, students will engage in workshops and begin gathering examples of effective rhetorical choices from each other’s work. From those workshops and accompanying reflections, students will then design a style guide as a class, which will be assigned as a foundation for students in future iterations of the course.
For this course, I’ll have students read Everyone’s an Author. I’ve chosen this particular rhetoric because it includes chapters on research, document design, and collaborative projects, which are all essential for student success in a multimodal project like Storium. Moving beyond the disciplinary boundaries of rhet/comp, I will have students read about Sarah Harvey’s model, Creative Synthesis, which defines the unique way Pixar storytellers and programmers collaborate.
This course is designed so that students will gradually compose interwoven documents that are open to further revision. Early assignments, such as rhetorical analyses, prepare students with the language needed to later critique one another’s work. The annotated bibliography and story proposal directly prepare students to collaboratively tell a story together. By the end of the semester, students will revise all of these scaffolded activities and include them in a digital portfolio that traces their contribution to the Storium project. Throughout the term, they will have responded to feedback and revised Storium scenes through in-class freewriting sessions, and they will be thinking reflectively about each Storium scene through writing the style guide for future students. During the final week, students will be given time to freewrite, peer review, and revise a final reflection that looks back on their accomplishments over the term.
What do you think? Would you include Storium in your classroom? What are your favorite platforms for teaching or learning to write?