Teaching Literature and multimedia – Presentation of Slovenian project work World from Words
Milena Blazic, Ph. D.
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Over the past decade there has been a rapid development of multimedia in education. Multimedia is the term used to describe a hypertext system that incorporates a variety of media besides text, including graphics, animation, video, sound, and hypertext links. Multimedia has enormous potential in the classroom, especially at elementary level, with a number of advantages for experiencing literary texts, as it calls on all the language skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing) as well as viewing skills.
Up to now multimedia has largely been used as supplementary resource, for follow-up activities or as a form of reward in the classroom, but it can also provide a significant basis for literary instruction. For some teachers multimedia may appear to be a reductive, even a trivializing, tool, compared to the conventional linear, verbal act of reading literature, a view that students do not seem to share. However, the introduction of the computer should force teachers to rethink their practices, while students should be motivated to learn in a new way. The use of multimedia also reflects changes in literature teaching methodology.
The Slovenian project World from words consists of a series of textbooks for 4th to 9th grade, accompanied by CD, videocassette and website (http://www.svetizbesed.com/) designed as an online service to support and extend the teaching and learning of literature in primary school (from 6 to 14 years of age). This gives teachers and students a comprehensive resource, a set of tools providing access to literary texts, interviews with authors, interactive educational games and short biographical and bibliographical notes about authors and contexts.
For example, the textbook World from words 7, in print and screen versions, has
been adapted to support the Curriculum for Slovene Language Arts (language and literature). It contains authors mostly listed in the national curriculum, including contemporary national and international authors. Students feel closer to school textbooks enhanced with attractive audio/visual multimedia (CD, videotape, website) than they do to their teachers’ traditional tools. The World from Words 7 project team, together with the publishers (Zalozba Rokus http://www.zalozbarokus.si/ Ljubljana), are currently developing the first materials for the multimedia teaching and learning of literature for students in primary schools. These materials will be available for teachers (textbook, videocassette, teacher’s guide) and students (textbook, CD, website).
Scholars and teachers suggest creative ways of using writer/reader-response
methodology in the workbook (in http://www.devetletka.net/sib7.asp), which is a collection of over 50 primary texts, offering students the opportunity to access biographies, images, audio and video recordings, information about authors, web links, and the full texts of poems, plays, and fiction. New technologies, far from threatening the book, can positively enhance its value by enriching the possibilities for teaching literature through a range of new media.
Teaching literature in Slovenian primary schools is mostly based on reader-response pedagogy, derived from the theories of Louise Rosenblatt (1978)1. Literature teaching/ learning with multimedia combines reader-response theory with multisensory response theory in an approach that is new and attractive, compared to conventional textbooks in which verbal meaning predominates. It suggests interactive activities and provides opportunities for students to study authors, texts, and contexts using a variety of media (audio, video, and print) and a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize reader/writer-response to create and communicate knowledge.
This combination involves textual analysis, collaborative work and the integration of technology. It requires written and graphic response to literary texts and provides an active hands-on experience in learning where students construct their ideas in a new format, using visual as well as spoken and written language to express their own response. Students learn more effectively and more efficiently when teaching methods match their preferred learning styles. They apply a wide range of strategies to experience, comprehend, interpret, and evaluate texts. They are most highly motivated by a variety of integrated teaching materials, methods, and contexts.
1See Rosenblatt, L. 1978. The Reader, the Text, and the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.