I’ve had an interest in storytelling since.. forever? or the mid-1990s when my director at the Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI) at the Maricopa Community Colleges, sent me to a digital storytelling conference. It’s great irony that her last name was in fact, “Story” (waves aloha to Naomi).

Digital storytelling has been well used for projects in courses, but I’ve wondered much the last few years, can an entire course be driven by a narrative or a story arc?

Rather than primarily driven by a schedule/syllabus, where one knows in advance the plot of content, content, assignments, content, and knowing the end… a final assessment and a grade. Roll credits.

Can there be a background question, overall theme, or even a story that can include story elements of suspense, surprise, heroic achievements? Not replacing a syllabus, but some other thread that might, as they never said in “The Big Lebowski”, tie the whole course together?

This is all informed by my own experience as participant, instructor (in person and online, and open online) for the DS106 open storytelling quote unquote course (http://ds106.us/). Somehow DS106 is still going strong coming up on 10 years- there must be something to it.

I have applied the concept of a theme or arc to propel other courses, workshops, and faculty development work too. Obviously it lends itself to creative media courses like most of mine, but I took this question last year to a workshop at Kenyon College (done covid-19 style) https://cog.dog/show/2019/06/04/narrative/

Leaving room for room to me is creating a space for imagination, curiosity, and traversing the unknown together, and perhaps even as a participant, steering the narrative.

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Shared by: Alan Levine

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