As stated previously, thank goodness for school breaks, what would educational bloggers do without them?
After all my digital fiction groundwork, a couple of meetings with the collaborating teacher (Leanne) and a few emails, we introduced her Year 8 English students to digital fiction midway through Term 4. We decided to approach it from an exploration perspective rather than an in-depth assignment. I was especially glad we had when the intro session discussion revealed that almost none of them were even aware digital fiction existed (we thought this might be the case). Two of the students read manga online and one student had heard of fan fiction. None of them had used an e-reader although many were aware of Kindles (none had seen one). They all knew you could ‘read books on an iPad’ but none had tried this. I should also mention the level of interest in reading was average or below average for this group; this was one of the reasons the teacher initially approached me.
After a brief discussion about what they already knew, I showed them several examples on the IWB (interactive white board) and talked briefly about the differences and about the idea of linear and non-linear stories. The teacher allowed them to explore the different types of online fiction and the stories on offer for the rest of the session. During the second session they were to decide on one to read and review. Because the students would have only two weeks to do this, if a longer piece of fiction was chosen the student was only required to review the equivalent of one chapter (to be negotiated with the teacher).
The literature review questions posed to the students covered:
- their thoughts on what digital fiction is and how it differs from traditional novels
- title, brief summary and the other titles they looked at before settling on the one they reviewed
- discussion of the digital/interactive techniques used by the author, why they may have been chosen and the effect on the story (eg. distraction, add-on, enhancement, essential).
- students overall opinion of their chosen type of digital/interactive/online fiction and some discussion on their preference between it and traditional novels.