I’m writing a paper on digital gaming, and had to lose one of those chunks of thought you produce in the process of writing, but which doesn’t belong in the final product. This seems like a good place to put it. The point of the paragraph is to contrast gaming with some other new media genres that have had more success being incorporated into teaching and learning.
Digital storytelling, podcasting, blogging, and collaborative writing with wikis each appear to be digital variants of traditional course materials and course work, with intelligible transition paths for incorporating them into the classroom. In each case, the focus is on creating content in more or less understood forms, new forms that are not foreign to traditional forms such as the expository essay, the academic journal article, the oral presentation, and the film. These new media genres differ from their traditional counterparts primarily in their inclusion of other media types (audio and video) or in the additional dimensions of collaborative authorship and public audiences. But they retain a traditional emphasis on being strongly discursive, and in retaining the academically important premises of linearity and textuality. By linearity, I do not mean simple adherence to a logical ordering of things, where one idea follows from the previous, but rather to a prescribed temporal order of presentation that often has what Frank Kermode called “the sense of an ending.” For example, although digital storytelling makes use of the channel of visual animation, its compelling feature for educational use is the subordination of this channel to the narrator’s voice and to the comfortable linearity of film. Wiki hypertext appears to be radically non-linear, but in its typical usage, what emerges are densely linked collections of traditional text. Wikipedia, for all of the stigma it carries among media traditionalists, is founded on very traditional notions of what counts as content. Blogs and podcasts are the most traditional of all, since they are variants of very traditional forms of written and oral discourse. Where these forms are revolutionary is in their modes of production and of distribution, and in the emergent structures of participation that result from these. But these dimensions are precisely what tend to be absent from their pedagogical deployment.