Wednesday, 22 April 2009

New Media Narrative and Pedagogy


Where is narrative?
Narrative is growing at a phenomenal rate on the Internet where there is no definite beginning, middle or end. The type of narrative that is evolving questions several interesting areas of non-linearity, arrangement of parts and the concept of wholeness. Where traditional narrative concerns itself largely on a structured order of events, the newer more modern type of narrative focuses more on the general structure of events and is able to break away from its rigid boundaries or chronology of events. Arguably, in the traditional uses of narrative, the reader desires to know the ending of the story. In the new narrative, the reader desires to know the story from a more personalised approach; where he/she can move forward and backwards into space, at any given time, which becomes the "present" to the reader. This new narrative, governed by new media technologies, is taking on a dominant role in interactivity and seen to marry itself to the new age of digital media and its technologies.

So, what does this then mean for this new media narrative in pedagogy? The use of narrative as an educational tool is still prevalent in learning and education. In fact, traditional narrative has enormous value in education; it provides coherence and structure for the learner. But this situation becomes more complicated with new media that has taken off with narrative and created its own sets of rules and structures; accelerating the pace of creation and interactivity. Interactivity can lead to potential re-ordering of text and meaning which powers narrative to become independent storytellers.

Does this then mean that a new type of learning may be happening? Can we then say that new media narrative produces a new style of learning and hence a new type of "learner"? This produces a very complex situation, then, where students and narrative are no longer structured or linear and/or guided in formal learning. In other words, autonomy is traded for the insights of someone (teacher/instructor) more experienced.

Yet, this narrative is seen to be taken off with students...so what can be done with new media narrative in pedagogy? What are its implications? And what is its direction? Can new media narrative contribute to new learning styles and if so, will it produce a new type of learner - possible independent learner?