eLITE-CM Project: Developing enriching interactivity in children digitized literature and e-lit

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The market, the academia, parents and even pediatricians have witnessed the growing avalanche of digital products aimed at appeasing adults’ anxieties regarding the education of future generations, of children who have already fallen prey to the fascination of the screens. Among this offer overdose, it is difficult to elucidate which products are actually fulfilling their promises and which are dull, ineffective or even aggravating the evils they are supposedly counteracting. 

This presentation will address some of the concerns regarding the future of reading education by focusing on the study of two bilingual works: an enriched digitized edition of an old children story and a piece of interactive fiction. Each textual modality requires different strategies to produce engaging forms of interactivity, though in both cases the pedagogical intention is the same: to promote the pleasure of reading. 

In the first case, we have chosen to refresh “Una ciudad de libros” (“A City of Books”), a forgotten text from the Spanish Silver Age Period published in 1923 inside the collection Plaga de dragones. This period, famous for the effervescence of its cultural life, saw the emergence of Saturnino Calleja Publishing House, or as it has been described today, the Zara of Books. Creating an enriched digital version of this text has allowed us to make relevant discoveries about this collection from a philological perspective. At the same time, we hope to have provided teachers, parents and children alike with an attractive new edition of the work which can help children today enjoy the same stories that their grandparents read nearly a hundred years ago, using digital edition to bridge a cultural as well as temporal gap between children from different times and places. (“Una ciudad de libros”/ “A City of Books” from the collection Calleja Interactivo/Interactive Calleja (prototype version)) 

The other selected work is an original piece of interactive fiction written by the Marino family entitled “El Cambiazo”/ “Switcheroo” from the collection of stories Mrs. Wobbles & the Tangerine House. This work, which progressively places young readers in front of nontrivial and difficult moral choices, allows us to study reader’s interaction from new angles given the potentialities of its infrastructure, the Undum platform, a free and open-source, JavaScript-based interactive storytelling platform developed by Ian Millington. 

Last year in Porto, the panel dedicated to children e-lit debated over the different types of interactivity found in e-lit works, establishing a gradation with respect to their ability to increase the reader’s appreciation and understanding of the story. This paper attempts to further this discussion by presenting some reading experiences carried out at several schools in Madrid and LA of these two types of interactive stories for children from 9 to 11 years old. These experiences will be used to test the design of the experiment, which could be hopefully carried out more extensively after opening it to criticism and discussion at the ELO venue.

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
Undum 2010
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Record posted by: 
Jana Jankovska