In the Online Classroom this Autumn, Teaching Interactive Storytelling

BCIT StoryToGoWe are excited to be starting a whole new chapter of teaching and storytelling for us this Autumn, with our first post-secondary accredited online course in Interactive Storytelling available through BCIT StoryToGo’s Media Storytelling Department (formerly Part-Time Broadcast Studies). This means that anybody can register and take this course from anywhere in the world, on their time, and they don’t have to be a regular student of BCIT. Pretty cool!

It also means for us, that we, ourselves have been experimenting with both new methods of digital storytelling and teaching to better reach our students. So we have created course videos, webinars, step-by-step technology manuals, interactive quizzes, and discussion boards … and that is just been the beginning. We look forward to experimenting with new ways of connecting and engaging with our students as the Course gets underway.  As the Course content has already all been built, we also love that this now places the emphasis in teaching, on engaging with our students, and trouble-shooting with them, as they begin to build their own interactive storytelling projects. Here’s a little of what you can expect from the Course:

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Our course is not the only new online storytelling course this term through BCIT StoryToGo‘s Media Storytelling Department. Thanks to Steve Dotto, Marty Strong and I discussed storytelling and the online courses available through BCIT StoryToGo last week on the Dotto Tech Radio Show on AM 650. You can listen to the broadcast here:

The three Courses available online through BCIT StoryToGo’s Media Storytelling Program this Autumn, include:

You can also catch an online course with Steve Dotto, as he launches his own series of online courses in Email Management and ProTECHtivity.

The Vancouver Sun asks: Can Technology Improve Literacy Skills?

Last week The Vancouver Sun‘s digital life writer Gillian Shaw approached Erica Hargreave to discuss the effect technology is having on literacy skills.  An issue often discussed in the Ahimsa Media office and, it would seem, many other offices too. Gillian’s article went to press on Saturday, and it was fascinating to read the full analysis, and hear other opinions.

Gillian discusses the use of technology in our schools and the changing face of learning at home.  Many, myself included, were initially fearful, of social media’s growth, particularly amongst children and teens.  Spelling seemed to go out the window, closely followed by sentence structure and even sentences themselves.  But Erica makes a great point about twitter’s 140 character rule: “with young people having to tighten up what they say, they are learning to write very precisely, to focus on what they want to say.”

Another educational tool which I had not previously considered is the ipad, Gillian writes:  “Today’s preschoolers can read books on an iPad that brings the touch features of a traditional print book: they can flip pages and read it sitting on their laps in the back seat of the car, not only at a desktop or laptop computer. The digital version also brings enhancements, from Alice literally tumbling down the rabbit hole on the screen in Alice in Wonderland to books that read aloud and let children take part in the story creation and other features.”

Photo by Tim Bishop for Weber Shandwick Worldwide

One of the reasons we, at Ahimsa Media, love technology is the ease with which it allows us to interact with ease, and The Vancouver Sun piece reflected this.  Less than a day after publication, an email popped into our inbox, from retired news reporter Alexander Young.  He had just read the article and found us through it.  It was timely as he has recently taken his first step into personal publication by beginning a blog, and he too has been pondering the issue of literacy.

He said: “As far as faulty spelling and grammar may be concerned, the point is whether the viewers of the writer can be understood. Take a look at usage in e-mail and facebook and twitter. It’s a fright if you insist on perfect spelling and grammar. But that, as I see it, is mainly because the people, especially the younger generations, who use those avenues of expression are in a hurry, they have little time for worrying about  typos and grammatical niceties, and they comfortably use multitudes of abbreviations and graphic symbols. So cut them a little slack.”

So, as Gillian concludes that if technology is used correctly it can improve literacy.  Please enjoy the full article here: Can technology improve literacy skills? Yes, if done right.

And in true interactive style we want to hear from you, do you agree or disagree?

Back to School With Ahimsa Media – An Interactive Classroom This Fall

It never fails, since my third birthday the autumn still means it time to head back into the classroom for me, some more conventional, some a little less so.  This is probably why in my mind the year runs from September to June and the new year starts for me afresh every September.  With a life long love for learning, the autumn also bring with it a sense of readiness and anticipation.

This autumn is no different, although over the years my classrooms have changed as has my role within them.   The classroom brings two most exciting educational opportunities for me this autumn. The first is my second Interactive Storytelling Course for Industry Professionals and other adults through Capilano University’s Continuing Studies Department.  This promises to be 10 thought-provoking and inspiring Tuesday nights, in which we learn from one another and all come out of the course with the beginnings of our own online storytelling for self, business or a creative endeavour. Here’s a description of the course:

 

Interactive Storytelling (A Capilano University Continuing Studies Course)

The face of media is rapidly changing. Join traditional and digital storyteller, Erica Hargreave, as she introduces you to the art of interactive storytelling and how to use tools such as Twitter, WordPress, Flicker, YouTube, Facebook, podcasting and blogging to tell your stories. Audiences want to access media from multiple platforms: online, offline and on the go. More and more audiences are demanding the ability to interact within the story, and with the characters and authors. The collective “voice” of media is changing, audiences desire a much more personal tone in what they read and interact with. This personal tone and voice extends beyond the story to the corporate brand as well. Audiences want the story behind the story, to feel that they are part of the story, the creators and the brand itself.

  • 10 Tuesday Evenings September 21 – November 23 6:30 – 9:30 pm
  • Instructor: Erica Hargreave
  • North Vancouver
  • CRN: 30049
  • $329

The second classroom is at the Merging+Media Conference that is being hosted by CMPA. I have had the honour of being invited to sit on the Advisory Board for the Conference and will be speaking on one of the panel.  Its shaping up to be an interesting conference, exploring the worlds of transmedia and convergence and how we build stories to cross platforms. It has speakers from current transmedia projects, gaming, ARGs, technology, viral marketing and broadcast media.  Promises to be an interesting conversation.  Take a peek at the agenda.  The dates to keep open are October 28th (Masterclass) and October 29th (Conference).

Hope to see you in the classroom!

Exciting Times for Media

Times are a changing in the Media World and we are highly excited by some of the most recent evolutions.   Particularly here in Canada where the new Canadian Media Fund (CMF) has been announced bringing in an experimental element. This is a perfect opportunity for members of the digital media community to get funding and branch out, trying new projects that funds would not have previously been available for.

This is the first year such funding options have existed here in Canada and although the fund’s guidelines are still evolving, it is this open invite for submissions that we feel can allow the creative juices to follow.  The CMF are also widening their view towards the advantages of transmedia storytelling for their more traditional television fund with the convergent program.  This provides exciting opportunities for traditional media to discover new avenues with their storytelling and really have fun with the new challenges and opportunities that the changing landscape of media offers.

In keeping with the times, the Yorkton Film Festival has really embraced the idea of Interactive Storytelling, and has contracted us to help them to tell their online story.  They are rebranding their image, doing a bit of marketing for the festival and the Golden Sheaf Nominees, and acting as a case study example to festival delegates of how interactive tools can be incorporated into their stories.  Way to go Yorkton!  And thank you for inviting us along for the ride!

To follow along on the Yorkton Film Festival’s online story, check them out on:

In keeping with this model of forward thinking and moving towards the future of media, the Yorkton Film Festival is hosting some great workshops on Friday May 28th, 2010 aimed at thinking convergently, including a few with our own Erica Hargreave.  Here is what you can look forward to:

Friday May 28

  • 8.30 am – 9:00 am:  Blast Off – Social Media at the Festival, Ramada Yorkton

A look at telling the Festival’s story using social media and how filmmakers can use this to build the buzz around their productions, with Erica Hargreave.

  • 9:15 am – 10:15 am: Panasonic Workshop and Presentation, Ramada Yorkton

Panasonic Canada presents and discusses the latest Panasonic video cameras and technology, including notes and news on 3D.

  • 10:30 am – 12:00pm:  Let’s Play CanCon Convergence Roulette, Ramada Yorkton

A fun filled game show where panelists compete by trying to adapt new convergent technologies and applications to classic Canadian TV shows. Hosted by Robert Hardy. Panelists Cam Bennett, Trent Haus, Rob Bryanton, Brenton Sawatzky and Erica Hargreave.

  • 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm: Which Way To The Future? Ramada Yorkton

Spend an afternoon with some of the biggest names in the industry, as they try to make sense of and figure out where the rapidly changing screen based media industry is headed. Hosted by Richard Gustin. Panelists Cindy Witten, Daniel Cross, Norm Bolen, Valerie Creighton and Rudy Buttignol.

Saturday May 29th, 2010 at the Yorkton Film Festival hosts some always needed industry staples, putting you face-to-face with the broadcasters, talking finance and actual production, and discovering how to get your proverbial foot in the door.

Saturday May 29

  • 8:30 am – 9:00 am: Blast Off – Social Media at the Festival Part 2, Ramada Yorkton

Explore ways to use social media as a storytelling device on your projects, with Erica Hargreave.

  • 9:15 am – 10:15 am:  Now’s Your Chance, Ramada Yorkton.

Table-hopping group discussions with industry leaders, broadcasters and distributors.  Ask the questions you’ve always wanted answered.  Join industry leaders for straight talking, small group discussions.  A rare honesty that Yorkton offers, unlikely to be found at larger festivals.

  • 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Oh, Oh! They Said Yes – Now What? Ramada Yorkton

You’ve finally pitched a project that a broadcaster/investor likes enough to make an offer. Join the panel of experts as they share insights and ideas of what has to happen in order to get the proposal into a finished project. Hosted by Joanne McDonald. Panelists Stephen Onda and Peter Raymont.

  • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm:  My Big Break, Ramada Yorkton.

Five successful Saskatchewan film and television producers discuss their first big “success” and how they found it (or how it found them).  Hosted by Bruce Steele.  Panelists Michael Snook, Jeff Beesley, Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson and Anand Ramayya.

Click here to register for this year’s festival.

We hope to see you in Yorkton!

A New Classroom & Course for the New Year

Leerlingen van lagere scholen volgen op demonstratieve wijze een les op het Binnenhof / Primary school pupils stage a learn-in outside the Dutch Parliament

Photo from The Hague’s Nationaal Archief

I’m excited to be embarking on a new educational adventure this year! My new classroom will be in the Broadcast Communication Program at BCIT and the Continuing Studies Department at Capilano University.  At both schools I will be teaching Interactive Storytelling.  Not completely sure, but I do think these are two of the first Interactive Storytelling Courses at Post Secondary Institutions in Canada.

So what is Interactive Storytelling?

I define Interactive Storytelling, as storytelling across platforms of media, some of which are interactive, allowing the audience to interact with the story itself, if they so choose.

For the purposes of these classes, whilst we will be looking at examples of other forms of interactivity, such as ARGs and Gaming, the focus of the class will be on using different forms of social media (such as blogs, twitter, facebook, blip.fm, flickr, podcasting..etc) to make traditional stories (such as novels, films, tv, articles, radio, plays, brands …etc) more interactive. Through the course of the class, the participants will use these social media tools to build an interactive component to a project of their own.  This can be a project that they have developed in the past, are currently working on or are just using as a tool to experiment with telling stories interactively.

Who is this course for?

Anybody who has a story to tell, whether it is that of a place, a brand, a novel, a play or a film or TV series.

Here are the details on the two courses:

 

Capilano University

  • Course Code: CRN 10020 – Interactive Storytelling
  • 6 week course
  • Tuesday Nights from 18:30 – 21:30 (6:30 – 9:30 pm)
  • North Shore Campus
  • March 2, 2010 – April 6, 2010
  • This is a non-credited course through Continuing Studies.

 

BCIT

  • Course Code: BCST 1073 – Interactive Storytelling
  • 10 – 12 week course
  • 3 – 3 1/2 hours a week
  • Course Date Pending: Either April or September
  • This is a credited course through the Broadcast Communications Program, but don’t let that scare you off, as it is open to the public and you do not have to be a full time student to take it.

Also stay tuned for an Interactive Storytelling Course for Youth during the Spring Break with the Delta School District!

All in the Name of Literacy

Reading is Sexy Exposed

Our sincerest of apologies to the Vancouver Community for any over-inflation we may have done to the following individuals egos, by placing them in a calendar, entitled Reading is Sexy:

Even More Reading is Sexy Exposures

You see, it is for a good cause and all in the name of literacy.  Aside from sadly feeding Emme’s ego and launching her into a new-to-her form of media, the calendar, we are helping her to raise funds for a cause that both she and we believe in –  literacy, and more specifically, dyslexia. A healthy portion of the proceeds from the calendar and the photo auction will be going to The International Dyslexia Association to help them get kids (and adults) with dyslexia to overcome their literary hurdles and have fun with words.

As our way of apologizing to the community, for allowing the above individuals to call themselves Miss, Ms, Mrs or Mr (Insert Month here) for the next year, we are helping Emme to throw a Reading is Sexy Literary Celebration this Thursday.  Here are the details:

Cost: Free

Local: Gudrun Wine & Cheese Bistro (150-3500 Moncton Street, Steveston, BC)

Date: Thursday December 3, 2009

Time: 7 pm until late

Festivities:

  • general revelry and enjoying of Gudrun Goodies (We will buy a few plates for the room, but bring some money with you to enjoy more Gudrun Goodies and some of the delicious wines and beer)
  • readings from a few of our authors (Ian Ferguson, Mark Leiren-Young, Lorraine Murphy, Raul, Rayne … to name a few …Emme may even read something from my yet to be finished novel)
  • special guest reading by comedian, Kirsten Van Ritzen
  • calendar signings by the ‘models’ on hand
  • auctioning of some of Robert Shaer’s photos from the shoot for charity

Come, heckle our various months and enjoy a good night of laughter.

And once again, our sincerest apologies, and please don’t blame the photographers, Robert Shaer and Tris Hussey, for this.

Oh and if you can’t make Thursday, but do want a calendar, you can order one here. (If you are in and around Vancouver, ignore the shipping costs as we or Emme can figure out physically getting it to you.  Similary, you can ignore shipping costs and pick up a calendar directly from the Canadian Branch of The International Association of Dyslexia, if you are in Toronto.)

Brands Can Be Storytellers too!

A common misconception that we encounter with people when we tell them that we are interactive storytellers is that we create dynamic stories for children or that we strictly work with traditional stories in the form of books, movies, television series and films to make their stories more dynamic and interactive.  This is a myth (although we do  indeed work with traditional stories to make them more interactive, but our stories are not limited to traditional stories).

Storytelling is an age old art and tradition that allows us to pass on information in a manner that will be remembered.  The most powerful ad campaigns build a story around their product or company.  Similarly the most powerful political campaigns or actors have been adept at building stories around themselves.  This is what creates brands that people remember.  It doesn’t matter how old we get, everybody loves a good story and if you can create one around your brand, people will remember you.  Dove for example was brilliant in the building of ad campaigns that made them synonymous with embracing the real female body in all of it’s curves.

Photo by Selca Morales

Photo by Selca Morales

Now when we talk interactive storytelling, we are simply referring to making your story more dynamic and allowing your audience or customers to become a part of your story by interacting within it.  Storytellers have done this for ages with dance, sound effects, song and costumes, when they have their audience present.  The beauty of technology and the age of social media is we can now allow our audience to become a part of our story, even if they are not in the same room as us, the same city, the same country, or even the same hemisphere.

Photo by Rusty Stewart

Photo by Rusty Stewart

To explore interactive brand storytelling some more, join me (Erica Hargreave) for a Back to School with Kontent workshop tomorrow (Tuesday September 1st) evening on Creating Interactive Brand Stories.

Back to School With Kontent

Summer is winding down, and with it my days of zaniness.  Time to buckle down to more serious matters, like interactive storytelling!

Excited to be a part of Kontent Creative’s Summer School with a workshop on Interactive Brand Storytelling:

Creating Interactive Brand Stories

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 7pm – 9pm

No matter how many new technologies and forms of media we invent, the most powerful form of communication will always be the most ancient, the art of storytelling.  The beauty of these new technologies and forms of media is that they are vehicles for stories that allow us to tell them in new ways and spread them to new audiences. They also allow our audience to interact within the story itself, allowing them to feel a part of it.

Often we think of stories as medium strictly for entertainment sake.  The reality is that we are all storytellers, telling our own stories, that of a company or a brand, or those of the culture in which we live.  The trick is recognizing what our story is and learning how best to tell it.

In this workshop, we look at examples of brand storytelling, identify what others stories are and how they are using the online space and social media to tell their brand’s story and engage with their audience.  Just like the stories online, this workshop will be interactive and we will be doing some story building of our own.

Click here to register.

So what do you think –  should I go with my summer look:

…or move on to the autumn wardrobe?

Making Twitter History in Yorkton, Saskatchewan

A very cool thing happened to us at this years Yorkton Film Festival.  We hit the ‘top ten trending twitter topics’!

Festival Social Media Team: Lee, Karen & Tris tweeting away

Festival Social Media Team: Lee, Karen & Tris tweeting away

Now I know what some of you are thinking, so what, we do that all the time at various events here in Vancouver.  Well, what made this hit on the ‘top ten trending twitter topics’ so exciting for both Tris Hussey and myself is that it was the twitter community following along on the Interactive Storytelling Panel conversation from outside of the room that drove us up to the ‘top ten trending twitter topics’.  To the best of Tris’ and my knowledge this had only ever been done with conferences and events from inside the room.  Definitely a twitter first for both Tris and I.

yff09 delegate, Joanne MacDonald, tweeting for the first time.

yff09 delegate, Joanne MacDonald, tweeting for the first time.

To make this even more exciting, this happened whilst one of the main points that we were getting across is that social media is about community and building the community around you. The twitter community demoed this for the festival delegates in real time, as they illustrated to the room how a conversation could go beyond four-walls and those that could not be present could still be a part of the conversation.  The highlight of this for me was not during the panel, but at the awards gala, when @heckofamom could not be present at festival to see her sister, Teresa MacInnes win two Golden Sheaf Awards for ‘Norm’, but she could follow along in real time on twitter and be a part of the night with her parents, brother-in-law and Teresa.  My eyes welled up with tears and I got all choked up when they thanked Tris and I at the end of the evening.

Teresa & her husband, Kent winning the Golden Sheaf for Best of Festival for Norm

Teresa & her husband, Kent winning the Golden Sheaf for Best of Festival for ‘Norm’

Community is also the factor that makes the Yorkton Film Festival so special to me. This Film Festival is a whole community event that the families of Yorkton, Saskatchewan put on for the film community.  The community made us dinner every night for heavens sake.  It was pretty gosh, darn special and I feel incredibly fortunate for having been a part of it.

Members of the Yorkton Red Hat Society at Opening Night

Members of the Yorkton Red Hat Society at Opening Night

An enormous thank you to the twitter community, Yorkton community and yff09 delegates for making this years Yorkton Film Festival so very special to us!

Raising a glass to the following tweeters:

From Outside the Room:

From Inside the Room:

The Yorkton Film Festival Goes Interactive

Most excited to be heading off to the Yorkton Film Festival this week with Tris Hussey (from m2o)  and Emme Rogers.

The three of us, along with locals, Richard Gustin, Karen Brownlee, and Lee Robertson will be demoing Interactive Storytelling to the Festival by telling the Festivals story through tweets, snapping pics, blogging and possibly even shooting a bit of video.  Much of this is very new to both the film world and Saskatchewan, so we will be posting some basic how-to set-up various social media platform posts on Bridging Media.  We will also be talking a fair bit about characters on the web there.  We even did a podcast with @SookieBonTemps (the True Blood character Sookie Stackhouse on Twitter) that you should be able to find there later this week.  For the lighter side of the Festival (or as Emme likes to call them festivities) check out Emme’s posts on Being Emme.

Designed by Mitch Doll

Designed by Mitch Doll

The main highlight of the festival for us is the Interactive Storytelling Panel on Friday May 22 from 1:30 – 4 pm Saskatchewan time, 12:30 – 3 pm PST.  Very excited about this panel as it is all about what I am passionate about – Interactive Storytelling.  We will be talking about building stories and characters interactively with the audience,  using social media tools to effectively tell stories and further your projects, and discuss the future of media.  Joining me on the panel is Richard Gustin (former head storyteller at SCN), Gresham Bradley (Director of On-line Development at e-cast in New Zealand), and Peter Raymont (Executive Producer of the Border).  Emme is also insisting that she’s going to be making an appearance (apparently the lack of an invitation hasn’t dissuaded her) and Tris will be our in the audience online panelist driving the traffic and conversation online along with Lee Robertson and Karen Brownlee.  We are really hoping some of our social media savvy friends from Vancouver and elsewhere will jump into the online conversation during the panel – the tag is #yff09 – as we want to highlight the sort of talent out there that the producers and broadcasters in the room should be bringing on to their projects.  I know for sure that both @SookieBonTemps and @LordLikely are planning on hopping into the conversation.

Stay Tuned for more from Yorkton (mainly on Bridging Media, m2o, A View from the Isle and Being Emme)!