Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wikified English - Pt 1, WHY?

My first big project this year is our very first "wikified" Short Story unit. Traditionally this unit sees students devise an original short story inspired by a variety of collected stimulus items, these can be poems, news articles, other short stories, images, etc. The focus during the unit is exploring the way texts and authors weave together to make meaning. This term students will be doing essentially the same task, except that the stories will be published in wikis with links to the stimulus items.

When we first came up with the idea I hadn't made the connections about WHY I thought it was such a great idea. Talking in the car on the way home I finally figured it out - the hypertextuality of the internet is often a real life example and respresentation of the intertexuality of texts. Websites, wikis, blogs - they are all made richer through the inclusion of hyperlinks to relevant resources, different points of views, and sources of inspiration. Hypertext is connecting texts and making meaning in, perhaps not new ways, but significant and important ways. One of my favourite resources for showing this is Michael Wesch's, "The Machine is Us/ing Us".

Some of the great things I've found so far:

A great SlideShow over on Slideshare entitled "Digital Fiction", by Angela Thomas (2007) which looks at some of the "emerging" literary formats popping up on the web:

Digital Fiction
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: fiction digital)
Then I found an entire novel that was a collaborative wiki - A Million Penguins. Not the most complicated hypertext out there, but it's nice to have an example to show people this type of text is not a figment of my imagination. As I dug around I found that there's more hypertexts out there than I thought - Hypertext Fiction Sites, Eastgate, and Hyperizons are just a few sites with nice collections of resrouces and examples.

It was through these resources and my lightbulb moment that I was able to figure out WHY I think we _need_ to get this unit to work - our students are dealing with interwoven, multimodal texts everyday, and they need to understand how these texts are constructed and connected so they can navigate them confidently and with awareness...but more on that in a later post.

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