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Storytelling and Education in the Digital Age

Experiences and Criticisms

Matteo Stocchetti

While the importance of the role of storytelling can hardly be overestimated, the impact of digitalization on this role is more ambivalent. In this second book-length publication of the programme Media and Education in the Digital Age – MEDA, the authors take a critical stance towards the alleged emancipative affordances of digital storytelling in education. The collection is inspired by the effort of making professional educators aware of the risks of the digital turn in educational storytelling but also of the opportunities and the conditions for critical engagements. Based on their research and field experience, fifteen scholars discuss in nine chapters these risks and opportunities, providing ideas, evidence, references and inspiration to educators and researchers.

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Children’s Storytelling in Virtual Worlds: A Critique


Abstract In this chapter, we offer a critique of the growing use of virtual worlds for children, particularly as tools to teach children the basic elements of storytelling: language, narrative, the creative imagination, and generativity in applying learned skills. We argue that virtual storytelling is not like other forms of storytelling, particularly for children, who are still developing these abilities. There is evidence that digital storytelling through virtual worlds lacks many of the positive aspects of non-digital storytelling, and may even inhibit the development of imagination in children. In this chapter, we review the literature on children and virtual worlds, focusing on the importance and development of the creative imagination in children. We discuss the visualization hypothesis – a theory that was developed to explain how television produces a reductive effect on the imagination because it presents the user with ready-made visual images – and generalize it to new media, including virtual worlds. We posit the ‘displacement hypothesis’, which states that when manufactured content is supplied ready-made to the individual, then it displaces the creative and imaginative processes that the individual would otherwise supply for him or herself. The more immersive the medium, the more psychological dimensions are captured by this displacement – such as sound, the visual, narrative content, time, space, physical presence – the more reductive are the effects on the individual’s imagination. We conclude that further research is needed in order to determine the long-term effects of virtual worlds on child development, and that in the meantime virtual worlds...

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