Curriculum Development and Storytelling

Dr N Tasler & Dr VHM Dale


How to tell a story? So one of the things I want to achieve, but not entirely sure yet how to, is to make sure the new course my fabulous colleague Dr Vicki Dale and I develop has a story. It is coherent. I know we are going to hit the participants with some fairly complex theories, and challenge the invisibly authored framework for learning and teaching in higher education within which we act. Maybe ones we have constructed the framework more solidly we need to deconstruct it again for teaching. Introducing the layers within the context of each session.

One aspect I very much enjoy with blended learning and teaching strategies is how easy it is to integrate multi-modal texts within the learning environment. This is more than just text, it can also be images, documents, music, art, layout, behaviour patterns (e.i.: Kristina, 2017). The engagement with the environment and texts is going to be fragmented, due to the nature of the course, so we need a strong story-line to enable meaningful engagement with the course content.

So how to tell a story?

I really like Ken Adams Story Spine (1991) adapted by Izzy Gesell (2017) into the following:

The Balance: Once upon a time … and every day …
The Un-Balance: But then one day …
The Quest for a Resolution: … and because of that … and so … until finally…
The New Balance: … and ever since that day.
The Lesson Learned: …The moral of the story is

Gesell, 2017

When reading this I noticed the similarities with various models of narrative arc so decided to draw it out to help with modelling the principles of digital storytelling across. Anyhow, as I was drawing it I noticed something. The narrative arc created by the story spine is like a section from the heuristic spiral. This in turn gave me the idea to apply this to course design. So each session has Ballance—Un-Ballance—Quest for a Resolution—New Balance—Lesson Learned. However, this structure is also the overall structure for the course, the introductory session creates (intentionally) un-balance, and sends the participants on the quest for a resolution. In the last session we bring the complex theoretical framework we have developed, and are sharing in an iterative process throughout the course, together creating a new balance.

Trying to map storytelling with principles of digital storytelling.

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