After enjoying the liveliness of these presentations (which you look at in prior posts), it is hard to go back to the prospect of creating a mere eBook, a set of mute and colorless texts lacking the vibrancy of my students' personalities and creativity.
What to do?
Well, I have an idea, and I'm interested to see how much my students like it. It's stemming from the hilarious Zombie Apocalypse video journal created by Dia Darcey. Dia did a fantastic job of representing Michel de Montaigne's "Of Cannibals" as she slowly became a zombie in the year 2800.
So here's my idea. Rather than merely assembling a brief but rather traditional set of texts to put into an eBook about Renaissance literature, what if we created a fictional frame, a master story, to which we could attach a short series of videos, the eBook, and some interactive features? We would interest our audience in Renaissance literature by giving them a fictional, interactive pretext for doing so. Here's what I have in mind:
When astronauts return to Earth following the first successful faster-than-light journey, the effects of relativity mean eight hundred Earth years have passed since they left. Earth of 2800 is not recognizable to them, having fallen into a second Dark Ages. Books and computers exist, but in scattered and fragmented form. It is impossible for the returning astronauts to rebuild the technological infrastructure of the world that they left. But enough knowledge lingers among the ruins to piece together how the culture of a prior age was reborn. Perhaps if they learned how the Europeans of the 15th-17th centuries revived ancient civilizations, they would be able to rejuvenate their own and bring about a second Renaissance.
The astronauts record their adventures in a series of video journals and organize their findings around six master themes that explain the first Renaissance. If they can stay close to those themes and teach one another what they have found, then a new civilization has hope. They must fight against the ignorance of Earth's inhabitants, and against TMI, a psychological condition which prevents people from understanding the past by overwhelming them with large amounts of disorganized knowledge. Their only hope is to keep what they discover short, clear, and interesting to the remaining inhabitants of Earth.
To engage the inhabitants and sustain their attention, the astronauts create brief activities that can keep the attention of these psychologically challenged people. Brief games, demonstrations, and presentations can make the earlier Renaissance understandable.
Students create and share extremely brief "teaser" videos about primary texts from the Renaissance -- always tying these back to one of the six master themes. They test this content by pitching it to real people. As they receive feedback from one another and from outsiders, this gives them a reason to circle back again to their content and flesh it out in a longer video that goes beyond "teaser" content to more detailed representation of the text in question. The longer videos are in turn linked to a chapter created for the eBook.
The videos would be published as a web series, loosely connected to each other by way of the master story frame, but tightly connected to a given student's prior video(s). The videos would not simply present information; they would provide the pretext for engaging real people through some kind of interactive activity.
Perhaps the eBook would be structured within the same frame story, in a symbiotic relationship with the videos so that those who encounter the eBook will be taken to the frame story in the video series. And that way, the necessarily short nature of the eBook would be understandable -- after all, only so much of the ancient literature could be recovered...
What do you think? Would this be engaging for you (as a creator, or as a viewer/reader)? We could even use a green screen to create the videos for the frame story -- putting us "on the set," as it were, of the returning space ship (see the still below of the virtual set that I actually already have).
|Virtual sets are great fun and not hard to use.|
Care to go to warp drive?