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These are sentences that were used by 30 children to start writing their story during a workshop. This introduction evoked their imagination of a situation in a forest as a beginning to their journey on their story. They continued to write their fantasy until the story was finished. Most of them added new actors besides the mouse deer and the elephant, and also some dialogues between actors were written. Interesting on their story was that all those stories were different, even when using the same introduction sentences. Another thing is that they followed a simple story plot, which contains introduction, conflict and solution.
In addition, the children also drew an illustration based on their imagination about their story. They then used it as a picture book to retell their story. Besides this, they learned to visualize their fantasy; they learned also to understand the visual story of friends who were telling the story using a picture. Visual element is especially important for young children, who often think in iconic, visual forms, as well as for poor readers who rely more on visualization of thoughts to scaffold memory skills (Huffaker & Calvert, 2003). The work of Allan Paivio indicated with his dual-coding theory that learners are far more likely to understand concrete (non-abstract) words when they are accompanied by reference pictures than when only pronounced (Paivo, 1986). The combination of the activities writing, drawing and telling a story supports children's literacy ability.
Storytelling is an adventure, whereby children experience places and people previously unknown. Stories offer children compelling mechanism for understanding their world, expressing themselves to others, and connecting with their culture. Storytelling contributes to the constantly changing self-portrait of a child, which is developed as a child interacts with the world he experiences and comes to know (Boltman, 2001). Storytelling is an interesting area to be investigated. This study will explore how technology can be used to support children to enhance creative storytelling, self-expression, and an understanding of story structure as well as help to share cultural diversity.
At its core, storytelling is the art of using language, vocalization, and/or physical movement and gesture to reveal the elements and images of a story to a specific, live audienceâ€¦ It is the live, person-to-person oral and physical representation of a story to an audience.
The quote illustrates that our stories will always begin through oral means. Storytelling appears around the globe in many different formats. One of them is wayang. Wayang is an ancient form of storytelling with puppets that originated in Indonesia. Communities that enliven the wayang tradition exist meanwhile all around the world. Experiences in oral traditional storytelling art and experiences in web technology led me to carry out a study in this area. I thought it looked interesting and motivated me to develop an authoring media based on a kind of traditional storytelling with puppets.
As society has evolved over many generations, the power of language has moved from a primarily oral to a written form. Where the nature of human communication and learning once rested in the spoken word, it has moved to the book, the text. With the advent of technologies which foster mass communication and new ways of learning, it has changed even further. Language and communication have become digital.
Digital storytelling applications have received increased emphasis in the last few years. On the whole, the majority of research on technology and storytelling up to present has concentrated on interactive games, mystery simulations, and interactive fictions. Academic researchers and industry professionals are currently building new technologies to support children in creating, telling and sharing stories.
With digital media as a major media nowadays several new kinds of storytelling are created, such as text adventure, interactive fiction, role-plays and games with story elements. The advantages of digital storytelling are that the stories can be easily stored, retrieved and retold. The creators can rework their stories and even enable a kind of reflection. The authors can publish their digital stories to wider audiences that can have access anywhere around the world. The creators can extend their network of relationships as they share their work with others and cooperate with others on joint stories, and enable interaction between authors and readers, authors and authors, and even between readers and readers.
Boltman affirmed that if every person is indeed his or her own storyteller, then the concept of storytelling technologies as a research area is quite vital (Boltman, 2001). If each of us has the power and the right to use storytelling as an expressive tool, then we need to find new ways to participate in this medium. With participation experience children will be able to create and share their creations, and they will be involved in the participatory culture (Jenkins, 2009). The participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Ways for children to engage in storytelling with an emphasis placed on multiple, means of expression, from oral to written to digital, need to be explored. Fisch mentioned that children's ability to "bring their creations to life" through sound, animation, and/or video can provide a powerful motivation to engage in the process of authoring and an equally powerful reward for its completion (Fisch, 2004).
I found that the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web has fundamentally changed the landscape of software development. In the past few years, the web has become the de-facto deployment environment for new software systems and applications. In the new era of web-based software, applications live on the web as services. Even though virtual worlds cannot substitute the rich experience of performing with real puppets and a face-to-face-audience, I want to ponder the potentials of web design and usage for the field. New possibilities may emerge from a worldwide availability and from intercultural exchange of local knowledge of storytelling. For this ongoing development web software can alleviate own construction and design activities. The popularity of client-side scripting allows extended functionality and new kinds of interactivity in web applications. The web offers new and amazing communication and cooperation possibilities all over the world, especially with the rise of social networking sites and the semantic web.
The developing Web 2.0 community changes the role of user from a simple user to a co-creator. It will turn us into a more active culture where everybody will be able to join the creative communal production culture. If this potential is targeted for a tool that evokes imagination and enables the user for active story creation by productive acting in a media, one of the requirements is focusing on the design of the potential interactions. The challenge is that the complexity of the software and the technical difficulty should be reduced from the user's view in order to give broader possibilities that enable more space for the imagination of the user and that foster own activity of the user. The field of the story performance tradition of Wayang provided me with inspiration for narrative behaviors and actions that helped me develop ideas to design the model of the interaction for Wayang Authoring.
In oral traditional storytelling, mostly the structure of the story is linear. With the non-linear characteristic of hypermedia, the web medium influences the structure of stories. The two different media give diverse experiences in story creation and story performance. This study is expected to investigate recently emerging technologies that aim to support storytelling for children, where attention is focused on how a digital media technology is used to support story construction.
Research aim and questions
The aim of this study is to explore the potentials of authoring media to support a creative storytelling, self-expression, and an understanding of story structure for children, and to assist children in developing an appreciation for cultural artifacts, and enhancing intercultural empathy while building a young storyteller community in a virtual world.
This dissertation reports on the studies of children's digital storytelling technologies. The main questions of this study:
Which interaction design of an authoring media is appropriate to support children's creative storytelling and self-expression?
Which kind of visual interactive web-based tool can support children collaborate on a story and to understand story structure?
Do children change the process of creating stories in different media?
Wayang Authoring as an environment that builds on cultural understanding and diversity was implemented in order to bring this concept to life and to provide evidence of its benefits. Literature research was carried out to discover the state of the art of several aspects, such as storytelling, storytelling technology for children and social software. To understand the user's requirements, children and professional story performers who use wayang have been involved in the design process. In order to evaluate the tool, a number of discussions and several workshops have been conducted with experts and with children from different cultural backgrounds as well as with their teachers.
Composition of the dissertation
The presentation of this dissertation is provided in seven chapters as follows. After introducing the idea, research questions, and the aims of this study in the first chapter, the field of storytelling is explained in the second chapter. The meaning of storytelling in the context of children's narrative development is explored. The state of the art of storytelling technologies for children is presented.
The third chapter explains the structure of a story. This chapter describes the dramatic structure from Freytag and ten geometric structure variations of stories from Samsel and Wimberly, and the relevance of them to this research.
The literature study of interaction design and social software is described in the fourth chapter. Some existing social software is explored to gain more understanding of this area in order to support the design process of the authoring tool that supports children's creative activity in the narrative field.
The fifth chapter illustrates the design process of Wayang Authoring. The requirements and scenario, the concept and the implementation of the prototype are described. This chapter also explores the potential of a tagging system as a model to compose a non-linear story.
The system's evaluation and the findings are discussed in the sixth chapter. The evaluation of the Wayang Authoring system is aimed to show that the tool can support creative storytelling and self-expression, provide support to the understanding of story structure, and support intercultural empathy as well. The evaluation workshops with children and the teacher are described.
The seventh chapter discusses the results, including the contribution and future work of this research.