“…set in the early years of the 21st century and told through text, sound, images, music and games.”
Inanimate Alice, the story of Alice and her imaginary digital friend Brad, has steadily become a staple for English teachers, in many countries around the world, interested in exploring transmedia.
‘Alice’ is a ‘digital novel’ that most students find accessible, interesting, fun – and mysterious. The first time an episode is screened the tension in the classroom builds. For many students, it is a story told in a form and style that is unfamiliar – at least in the context of a traditional print-based English classroom – they do not know what to expect.
Recently, ‘Alice’ inspired many of my university students, preparing for their Professional Experience (PEX) sessions in classrooms around the region, to think how they could use the stories. Reports were all positive regarding student responses to Alice from their classrooms. One is writing about the text, for a professional journal, so positively did her students respond.
Who would argue with the slogan that ‘new media demands new literacies’? There are resources at the site plus plenty of enthusiasts to help you explore digital stories and ‘Alice’. Here is a ‘starter kit’.
My friend and English teaching colleague Kelli McGraw is a longtime fan of Alice’s. Check out her recent presentation, Alice in Australia: Making Digital Stories and her digital storytelling wiki. You can read more about ‘Alice’s Australian Report’ here. Joining this Edmodo community will likely help you connect with other enthusiasts too.
Alice inspires students to be creative, especially when they see how easily stories can be created with simple tools. Students can download Snappy at home to create visual stories and presentations after experiencing ‘Alice’. Students in my Year 10 class thought it cool and my 8 year old daughter had no difficulty using it.
Here’s a promotional video exploring the tool:
I do need to point out that these digital stories about ‘Alice’ and her experiences do not personally satisfy my narrative needs. The sound effects and music can be a little jarring and there is an emotional distance created that does not permit me to warm to the character.
How about you? Are you a fan of Inanimate Alice?
Teaching tips sought: how are you using ‘Alice’ in the classroom?
UPDATE: Just realised I first blogged about Inanimate Alice over 4 years ago.
Yes I am a fan – I love the combinations of edgy music, collage and colour and the brief text that leaves so much to the imagination. Inanimate Alice provides such an impetus for students to create a continuing narrative and their own interpretation of Alice that I think it’s a fabulous text for the classroom. As a non gamer I also liked catching the dolls in Episode 3! ! I look forward to more episodes created by the Alice team and students in schools.
Hi Darcy. I’ve used it with my Year 6/7 c;ass. We worked on groups to create a new episode. The groups all used edmodo for brainstorming, sharing tasks, ideas etc. The students really enjoyed it.
How cool is this. i am at a safari in Sri Lanka and saw your post and thougt how wonderful technology is. Inanimate Alice has lots of potential and I think it is important to give teachers some ideas how to explore the text and some support resources. It is all very exciting. Jane
Issue 1, 2012 of Metaphor, the journal of the English Teachers’ Association, NSW, has a review of the website and some very different activities. What I tried to do was to take traditional English novel study elements such as setting, plot, characters and language and see how these could be used to look at the text. I only looked briefly at visual aspects because the visual is handled brilliantly in the teachers’ resources that are free to teachers if you sign up with Inanimate Alice.