CMS’ New Media Literacies (NML) initiative begins 2006 with a project prototype focused on transmedia storytelling, an innovative library of new media producer profiles, more after school activities in the works and a new team member. Starting with the curious-looking alien characters from the original ‘cantina’ scene from Star Wars IV, participants create character profiles, investigate locations, write dialogue and augment mood through music that tell the story of how their alien characters made their way to the cantina. The process incorporates basic computer skills such as online searching, uploading and downloading files, writing blog entries and using PowerPoint, as well as the basic vocabulary and conceptual elements of storytelling practice.
In early December, MIT distributed the final beta materials to our development partner, the University of Chicago-sponsored charter junior high school North Kenwood-Oakland (NKO), for testing and assessment. Testing is scheduled to begin by late January 2006. In addition to our partnership with NKO, NML enjoys a collaborative relationship with the after school media-intensive program New Voices Collaborative at Boston’s YWCA for high school students. The students at the Y will be testing our Star Wars-based transmedia workshop during the spring 2006 semester.
As part of our community outreach mission, we continue to refine the NML website at www.projectnml.org with new blog postings and an enhanced literature review of new media education history and evolving practices. We have also engaged a broad spectrum of voices outside CMS in the new media literacy field, including Cheskin Research CEO and CMS board member Christopher Ireland, Media Lab literacy leaders David Cavallo and Mitch Resnick, Project Zero’s Howard Gardner, Emmy-Award winning producer Alice Markowitz, and esteemed literacies scholar Renee Hobbs. Progress continues on the project’s white paper, and the selection of advisory board members.
During the January 2006 Independent Activities Period (IAP), NML produced the first entries in an online “new media exemplar” library of a wide range of media producers intended to show the language, thinking, processes and people behind media production. Throughout the month, NML research assistants filmed a computer games developer, a comic book artist, a radio story producer, and a special effects film artist. This was the first round of exemplars of what we hope will be a growing and valuable online resource for teachers and students. The spring will focus on producing more exemplar library entries, as well as developing additional after school activities.
Comings and Goings
Katherine Clinton joined the NML project as educational consultant beginning Feb. 1. With an extensive background in new media literacy, Clinton comes to us highly recommended by our colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (see below).
Our “unofficial” NML research assistant (RA) Veronica Bollow is spending the spring semester in Panama completing her thesis; her energy and creativity will be sorely missed at our weekly meetings. RAs Vanessa Bertozzi and Orit Kuritsky will be reducing their RA effort on the NML project to half-time in order to work on the MIT’s Terrascope project. Veronica, Vanessa and Orit, as well RAs Ravi Purushotma and Amanda Finkelberg and undergraduate researcher Eylul Dogruel deserve kudos for the successes of the past semester.
Literacies Project Welcomes Consultant
Katherine Clinton has joined the New Media Literacies group as a consultant. She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and is completing her Ph.D. in literacy studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a member of the “Room 130” research group based at Wisconsin, Clinton investigated the connections between videogames, learning, and literacy. As part of her doctoral research, she is analyzing the new kinds of experiences videogames enable and considering how these experiences are, at the same time, a new kind of writing and a new form of learning.