Monthly Archives: January 2014

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014


Digital Literature Sampler Discussion

This post provides a few links, with an eye towards helping guide a discussion. As before, you need not comment on all these posts, or any of them at all. I’m just drawing attention to what I see as helpful, productive responses (from among those that are posted before 10am, which is when I started exploring).



R2: Reflective Analysis Response

  • Due 10am Jan 2.
  • Refresh your memory of how to do a literary close reading
  • Choose any two digital stories (games, apps, hypertexts, whatever) that we have explored so far in the course
  • In a brief essay (500-750 words) that uses direct quotes (and possibly screenshots) from the works you chose as evidence to support your claims, reflect on what you have learned so far about digital storytelling.
  • Follow MLA style and include a Works Cited page. (How do you cite an app in MLA style?)
  • Upload to



Peer Review of “Necklace” Expansion

For this assignment, each group member should read 2 other projects posted by classmates. Within your groups, coordinate so that you read as widely as possible. (By that I mean, Gus Griffin from Team 1 agrees to read the projects of Team 2 and Team 3; Sally Student from Team 1 agrees to read the projects of Team 4 and Team 5, and so on. I’d rather not have Gus and Sally both reading the projects from Team 2 and Team 3.)

What is the purpose of peer review?

When I ask Sally to read and comment on Gus’s text, sometimes Gus will report that Sally’s comments weren’t all that helpful. Perhaps Sally is not an expert in grammar, or didn’t read the assignment instructions closely enough, or has such a different idea about the assignment that Gus doesn’t feel Sally has anything to contribute that will help his grade.

But I didn’t ask Sally to read Gus’s paper because I expect Sally will help Gus’s grade. Perhaps something she says will be really helpful; perhaps not.

I asked Sally to read Gus’s paper because doing so will help Sally gain experience in analyzing and critiquing her own work.  Likewise, regardless of whether Sally’s comments help Gus, Gus will gain from the experience because, when he reads papers by Stewart and Julie, he can gain insight from seeing how other students resolved the same creative and technical challenges he faced.

Constructive Criticism

Bear in mind that I am asking you to give feedback in a public forum. This is not the place to flame someone else’s grammar (though you might politely hint “I got a little tangled up when I read this passage”). Neither is it the place for general affirmation (“Good job!”) with no explanation.

Feedback Template

I don’t want to limit anyone to following this formula, but here is a suggestion for a three-part feedback structure that begins specific things that you liked, and then continues with specific suggestions for revision. Note that there is a 1000 word limit… if you are asking for more of something, you’ll also need to ask for less of something else.

  • I liked it when…. (be specific — quote examples) because (reasons).
  • In your revision, I’d like to see less of…. (be specific — quote examples) because (reasons).
  • In your revision, I’d like to see more of… (be specific — quote examples) because (reasons).


Post a brief response to both projects you are reviewing, demonstrating your ability to read closely (by avoiding summary, quoting passages for textual support, and keeping your response focused on the text your peers have provided).

You may respond to both projects in a single post, or you may use the “Blog Me” button twice, once for each text you are reviewing.


Portfolio 1 Submission Page

Please use this page to submit a link to your Portfolio 1.

If you have already submitted a draft on the optional pre-submission page Dec 23, thank you. Whether you chose to do the optional pre-submission or not, please post a link to your Portfolio 1 in a comment on this page. (I’ll use the links on this page to find your portfolios in order to assess them.)

Demonstrate your understanding of hypertext by writing something engaging, other than just “Here’s a link to my homework.”


Unit 2: Analysis and Skill-Building (Jan 2-7)

Students will choose a small number of digital genres to explore in greater detail; students will familiarize themselves with 4-5 different content creation tools (such as Google Sites or WordPress for hypertext, Scratch for 2D visual stories, Inform for text-based computer games, ChoiceScript for multiple-choice games like “Choice of the Dragon,” etc.). All of these tools are free.

Successful completion of this unit will include creating (in groups of two or three) an entry-level artifact in each tool (basically completing a tutorial and supplying some original content); choosing two different artifacts to explore (working together on a solo project) to the level of an exploratory draft; and writing a short synthesis paper (as a solo project).

Friday, 03 Jan 2014


Writing Hypertext

The “Scratch Team Project” assignment asks you to create a hypertext story with a partner (or two), using Scratch. (I’ll provide a full video tutorial.)

The video tutorial covers how to use the Scratch tools in order to get your hypertext story to work.

But a hypertext story is, fundamentally, a story.

The following writing tips will apply to stories of all sorts — digital and otherwise. Read More »


Final Revisions of “Necklace” Expansion

I will start assessing your “Necklace” expansions at 10am today (Jan 3).

I’ll click the link you submitted on this page .. and I’ll assess what comes up.

My intention, of course, is to give you time to revise your work after you have completed the peer-review activity. (If you have changed the URL, please post the new one on the “R2 Submission Page.”)


Introduction to Scratch

In a separate post, I will present a step-by-step tutorial for you to follow in small teams, along with your team assignments.

This post is simply an introduction to the tool. You do not need to follow along and complete the steps depicted in these videos, but perhaps they will inspire you and your teammate to expand your Scratch demo assignment in creative ways.

Breakout Demo

First, an older set of 5 videos (altogether lasting about 45 minutes) introducing Scratch via a tutorial for making a “Breakout” ball-and-paddle game. (If you are not all that interested in creating games, just watch the first video and skip to the last video.)

Storybook Demo

Second, a single video (about 45 minutes) in which my 11yo daughter shows you how she uses Scratch to make a digital storybook.

I’m asking you to watch this video not only because it’s about developing a digital storybook, but also because Carolyn demonstrates a software development  technique known as iteration. She creates something simple, tests it, makes a change, and tests it again. Whenever she sees something she doesn’t expect or doesn’t like, she changes it and runs the game over again. As a process for creating, iteration requires a different mindset than the typical “I’m going to write until I hit the word count, then I’m going to check for typos, and then submit it.”

While you watch this video, notice how frequently Carolyn makes mistakes. She clicks on the wrong part of an “if-then” block and ends up duplicating more blocks of code than she wanted to; she doesn’t like the result of a picture she cropped; she creates an invisible button that no player would ever see, and when she adds a hint about that button, the hint remains visible too long and spoils an effect.

Just as Peter tried, failed, and tried again while playing interactive fiction games, here Carolyn carefully observes her mistakes, figures out what to do (sometimes with my help, sometimes on her own), and cheerfully tries again.

Making a mistake, figuring out what went wrong, and figuring out how to fix the problem is part of the lesson EL231 is intended to teach.

Because iteration is such an important concept when it comes to creating interactive content, I do want you to watch the whole “Point-and-click Storybook Tutorial” video.

Respond to these videos by posting your reaction to Scratch.

Monday, 06 Jan 2014


Hypertext Story: Link and Animate Text with Scratch

The Scratch hypertext project asks you to work in small teams. On your own, watch this tutorial (the full tutorial is four parts; there are two videos — one with parts I and II, the other with parts III and IV. You’ll learn how to create lexias, links, and animations in Scratch.

If you’d like to see higher-resolution screen grabs of the code, or read the text of the video tutorial, here a link to my script. Feel free to add comments to the Hypertext Story With Scratch script, or post comments in the YouTube videos. (I’m not requiring you to write about this video on your blog, but if you have something to say, feel free!)

The Scratch hypertext project asks you to work in small teams (check your email for a message from Canvas around 11pm Jan 2, or  look for the “Assignment Notifications” in Canvas… you can also look for all your groups in Canvas). You are asked to create at least five new lexias, ten new links, and two animations.  You are free to remix the text I’ve provided, or to start over and tell your own story.

Full Assignment Description (with a bit more hypertext theory)

Read More »


Inform 7 Project Preparation

This project asks you to work in small groups using Inform 7 to program a short interactive fiction game. This page describes the prep I’d like you to do before you start coding. I’m asking you to watch two videos (lasting about 20 mins total),  write a transcript of an imaginary IF game , and post comments that respond to and suggest new actions that you would like to see implemented in the imaginary games of your classmates.

The actual Inform 7 group project asks you to work in small teams on a simple Inform 7 game, due (update) Jan 9. (See calendar pages for details.) To find out who’s in your group, check Canvas.)

Read More »