A Participatory Action ResearchStudy of TaiwaneseUndergraduate Students DigitalStories From Second LifeMary StokrockiJin Shiow Chen
Digital StorytellingConcept & Literature A process of constructing an experiential space, in this caseon Second Life, in which others can walk through a story.Education thus becomes self-expression and play. Sanchez, J.(2009, Feb/March). Pedagogical applications of second life. Chung (2007) late wrote on digital storytelling of life actionstories. Christopoulou (2010) reported themes of suspense andsorrow and happy endings (usually ending in marriage),along with lighting, color, camera effects. Shin (2010) championed iMovie for MACS as easy to use inK-12 classrooms. See motivational examples on the Centerfor Digital Storytelling website at www.storycenter.org
Participatory Action Research(PAR) As a science and practice, PAR methods incorporatedpractical reflections throughout the study (Bogdan &Biklen, 1992), beginning with the initial project design,continuing throughout the data collection (students’PowerPoint Presentations and self evaluations), andanalysis phrases (Tabular analysis and focus group) tofinal conclusions and social action implications (Kemmis& McTaggart, 2000). To analyze the content, Stokrocki borrowed narrativescale categories from Caldwell & Moore (1991) thatincluded story (setting, character traits, and plotdevelopment), and action (expression). Search forfrequent expression words formed patterns (Gee, 2005).
Digital StorytellingProject The project was part of a semester course called Introduction toVisual Culture & Art Education that met once a week for two hoursin the computer labor. The first unit was to pose within the 3Dpainting -installation at Art Box. Students enjoyed this system role-play introduction activity. The second major project was to make adigital story –PowerPoint Presentation (Davis & Weinshenker (inpress). Sanchez (200() suggested the following considerations:Conceptions of art are changing and expanding. Recent theoreticaland philosophical shifts have emerged in and across variousdomains of knowledge. Those shifts have been informed by criticaltheories, such as postmodernism and feminism, and shape analysesof art and culture. New self-conscious trans-disciplinary fields ofstudy have emerged to challenge conceptual dichotomies, such asfine/popular arts. As a result of these changes, it has becomenecessary to expand the concept and practice of art education to therealm of visual culture. The term visual culture ―reflects the recentglobal explosion of of prolific pervasive visual images and artifactsand their importance to social life (Boughton et al, 2002 ).
Lesson Plan Steps Introduce your character and its role (hero, seeker, child) atsome art place, Pose a conflict or quest to find secrets-details in artwork, Include the resolution scene at the same place [What youlearned] Include the story talk, name of artwork/artist/location-URL. Change your viewpoint (aerial/worm/close-up) and addspecial effects. Use PowerPoint Presentation. Include Contrasting Colors—Background needs to beexciting too! Include some character gestures (e.g., running, surprise,crying). Using art criticism, evaluate your digital story.
Research Questions What avatar character types for role-play wouldthey choose? What digital story types/title/themes would theyconstruct? On what artist/work would they concentrate How would their stories develop/end?
Participant Avatar CharactersMostly human warrior(swordsky, wu, aluuuuu)hero (Cheng, peacelai, margret,ping), princess (sandy), cowboyhero (Ping), and even 2vampire –dead human typeOnly three students tried beinga robot (Burning Cheese withswimbuoy, Rita, Jason)Question later insignificant
Analysis: Frequent Words:LonelyCheng Yang, ―I feel very lonely to play this game, except for class time.‖Students complained that they found no one at the SL sites, and the dominant wordwas lonely (9 times). At first, feeling that Second Life is a lonely place with few avatais quite normal on SL (Sanchez, 2009).
Students noted  ―Funny‖storiesThe warrior chose to rescue his ―boring city and add art‖ rather than do nothing.
Dreams  were alsoFrequentShan discoveredanother specialworldwith hand-drawnillustrations [SeeBarack Obama].She instructs,―Follow our steps,and get into theunknown misttogether.‖
What Artworks/Sites werePopular?Out of 42students, AsianSites: such asGreat Wall andHokusai‘s 19th cEdo HokusaiPainting PeopleCrossing ArchedBridge.Four people chose Terracotta Warriors. The best example was Wang Wen‘s storyof Lost Treasure. Students discovered the size of the original quest as importantand they were surprised to find it represented in Second Life.
Students Didn’t Realize theHistorical Meaning until coaxedto do research
Some ContemporaryWorksIn his Wandering Life,Burning Cheesewondered what thestone lion in frontof the London Museumwas guarding.They were similar tothe ones outsidethe temples in Taipei.Later, he discoveredan abstract guardianlions with Orange Lightand found this blazinglight and abstract formintriguing.Kamilah Hauptmann‘s Viceregal Guardian Lion (Lionsgate Palace)[http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caledon%20Lionsgate/60/96/52
Western Classical LiteratureSitesThe caterpillar revealed to Swordsky, ‖Thinking is not the whole of life.The most important [thing] is action‖ from ArtBox http://maps.secondlife.com/secondl
Transformation StoriesWei-ting‘s cat visited a surreal place and the witchrejected her quest.Six TRANFORMATIONStoriesVerd Reed meets a surrealwoman’sHead with Bird Beak.Like a witch,she whispers, “This is notwhat you seek.”So here the story itselfchanged.
Angela Summarized… In real life, I feel lonely or boring (sic) and lots of thing todo, busy, heavy, and nervous. In Second Life-this virtualgame-I found the design won my heart . . . When Isearch this artwork (Empyreal Dreams), I found itsinspiration also came from art (Literature—Poe‘s poem--The Raven). I really feel art is important, when you feellonely or heavy, you can relax.
Post questionnaire Results Results from post questionnaires revealed that onethird of students (15/42) preferred the ArtBox sitefor their story. Students wrote: learn about moreartists and many [different kinds of] artworks(Jessie), go inside artwork, and roleplay. Chin-Yenpraised, ―Virtual world is a textbook to explore.‖Again, another third of the students (12/42) valuedthe Digital Story project.. They reported: ―I canmake new story myself; learn about whatTaiwanese student think; ―Tell others what I think‖(Elaine); ―You [become] a master of this world‖(Chen]; ―it‘s fun‖ (Swordsky); ―like a picture book‖(Puchu).
Conclusions Counting frequent words resulted in categories oflonely, funny, dreamy, beautiful, and transforming,which seemed somewhat simplistic. In the future, wewill plan a session for students to explain in depthwhy the artwork that they claimed was ―beautiful.‖ Forexample Sandy’s TMS Design furniture featured a bed.Upon further coaching, she explained that everythingwas white--indicating clean and pure, the sheetslooked smooth and soft, and the netting had texturenetting to keep mosquitoes away (practical reason).
No Resolution Stories really didn’t end with a resolution fromconflict, but in a question about pursuit of life purposeas metaphysical concerns. In comparison toChristopoulou (2010) reported themes of suspense andsorrow and happy endings, Taiwanese student storieswere full of existential ―angst‖ or worry. Furtherinvestigation with key informants also revealed thenature of their real world not as simplistic fantasy butas an existential struggle. Students to explain in depth how the artwork that theyclaimed was ―beautiful.‖
Deeper Meanings: EvolvingExistential theme Digital Stories or narratives are revelatory tales thatcommunicate the deepest forms of receptivity in ourexperience, known as the sacred (Grimes, 1995).Narrative or stories help people to relate to—tomake sense or to straighten out ―their real world.‖This text-analogue in ways is ―confused,incomplete, cloudy, seemingly contradictory-in oneway of another. The interpretation aims to bring tolight an underlying coherence or sense (Taylor,1976, p.153). Hermeneutics and politics. In P.Connerton (Ed). Critical sociology: Selectivereadings )pp/ 153-1930. Harmondsworth, England:Penguin.
Taoist Meaning of ―Play‖ In Chinese Taoism aesthetics, the term of ―play‖ mighthave a higher level of meaning. ―Free and joyful play‖implies spiritual freedom, and is regarded as the highestartistic state of mind, transcending all the levels of mind.Only the ―true man [women]‖ can achieve the state ofTao, to lead the life of the Way (Liu, 2011). In the views ofZen Buddhism, art involves the experience andexpression of the higher state of mind or enlightenment.Art represents the living experience of the true self or realmind, original nature or mind, the ultimate or Reality,realizes Nature and Tao, and the unity of the self andother, Heaven and man. Through proper learning in art oraesthetic attitudes, the student can experience the state ofbeing, beauty, harmony, joy, peace, and freedom,according to our key informant (Liu, 2011). Liu, F. J. (2011). The perspectives and collegial art instructionalframe work of spiritual intelligence and holistic developmentin art (in Chinese). Journal of Arts Research, 7, 1-26.
Future Implications:Unusual Story: Art for a SocialCauseAngela‘s Empyreal Dreams, a 3D illustration of Edgar Allen Poe‘s poem The Raventhat was used to sell Fashions for Cancer.See http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ctrl%20Shift%20H/28/169/22Although manystudent questsseemed simplistic atfirst,investigation intoTaiwanesecultural concernsrevealeddeeper meanings.
Future Concerns Some of these interpretive stories are eclectic, interpretive, contradictory, and context-bound (Stokrocki, 2010), but it does signify the intensity of the cultural life of Taiwanesestudents in an era of paucity—few jobs and declining resources. In a digital world like Second Life, many participants will only dabble, some will expressdeeper ideas, and still others explore social concerns most valued within the community.Such courses are not meant to train future artists, but to liberate students thinking aboutthemselves and adjusts how they regard other peoples‘ work. The next step isCollaborative Problem-solving — working together in teams, formal and informal, tocomplete tasks and develop new knowledge (Sanchez, 2007, p. 8).Sanchez, J. (2007). Second Life: An Interactive Qualitative Analysis. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.),Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education InternationalConference 2007.Stokrocki, M. (2010). An experiment in digital storytelling with preservice art education teachers onSecond Life. Unpublished manuscript.Stokrocki, M. (2012). Preservice teachers digital storytelling on Second Life. Unpublished manuscript.
Future Concerns By and large, young people are not defined bysociety as political subjects, let alone as politicalagents. Even in the areas of social life that affect andconcern them to a much greater extent than adults—most notably education—political debate isconducted almost entirely ‗over their heads‘(Jenkins 2009, 218-219). Teachers thus need to help students become criticaland adopt skills in negotiating multipleperspectives, respecting and even embracingdiverse or contrary opinions.