Acadia explores storytelling in the digital age


From blogs to graphic novels to video games, we live in a world where the role of the author and the reader are changing dramatically.  Today's stories are told through a variety of rich, interactive media, and in many cases, make the reader more of a participant than ever before.  Beginning this summer, Acadia University's "Narrative Unbound" will take students on a three-week journey through a cultural landscape that's being drastically reshaped by new media.

The course is available in online or on-campus formats, with students free to experiment with both options. While Acadia has long been known as a technological innovator, Narrative Unbound isn't about hardware or software:  it's about exploring how technology is changing the way we communicate and tell stories. 

Narrative Unbound is being spearheaded by Dr. Jon Saklofske, a young English professor with a keen interest in the transformative power of technology.  "There have been many changes to narrative and media that we've grown accustomed to in everyday life, but that we've never really consciously examined," Saklofske explains.  "Nowadays, we're not just voyeurs interpreting a story.  We can actually be players, and act as characters in a field of possibilities."    

It's the latest in his history of intriguing projects, which include videogame-like virtual learning environments and visualization tools for humanities studies.  "My main goal is to engage students with new media literacy skills," Saklofske says. "We want students to develop skills to explore the ways stories have been told, are currently being told, and might be told in the future." 

The game-changing nature of digital communication and media makes the course relevant to students from any number of academic backgrounds.  The course is designed to equip students with the tools to recognize the changing means of communicating and sharing ideas, so that they can better convey ideas in their professional roles.  "Everyone, in every profession, relies on communication and, to an extent, narrative," Saklofske says.  "I'll encourage students to enrich the class by bringing their backgrounds into play."  He hopes to see a classroom of diverse perspectives, with professionals and students from other institutions encouraged to participate. 

Narrative Unbound also represents a new approach among Acadia's online credit courses.  Students have the unique ability to participate either online, on-campus, or through a mix of both options, which allows them to compare and contrast the physical classroom experience with the virtual.

Narrative Unbound runs from June 28 - July 16.  To register today or learn more, please visit the website at http://nu.openacadia.ca

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