BLOG: What can eLearning learn from digital literature?
Last month, digital literatures doctorate student, David Devanny, won a three-month work placement at Unicorn in Bournemouth University’s international New Media Writing Prize, thanks to his poem, orange sweatshirt. David, who co-runs specialist poetry publishing house, The New Fire Tree Press, for which he is editing a library of experimental digital poetries, will arrive at Unicorn this summer on placement from Falmouth University. So, with more and more literature now consumed via digital and mobile platforms, who is David Devanny and what can he bring to this world we call eLearning? We caught up with him to find out! Why did you enter the New Media Writing Prize? While there are a large number of prizes and awards for print-medium writing, this is one of the few that recognises digital writing specifically and I think it’s important to take into account how people are reading and experiencing literature nowadays. I’m a New Media writer near the start of my career and was excited by the prospect of working with Unicorn and the opportunity to build a wider following for my work and gain some recognition Explain ‘Orange Sweatshirt’ for us. It’s a website designed for computers, which features an interactive poem. The poem embraces the participation of the reader. There are a number of slider controls, so if for instance the reader would like to see more adjectives they can move the slider towards Nabokov, and they will see more adjectives. Furthermore if the reader dislikes a word, they can move its position or even delete it all together. In building this website I wanted to really drive home the point that interactivity can lead to an enriching reading experience and facilitate collaboration. What, for you, are the most exciting recent developments in digital technologies? There are a number of technological developments, which have taken digital writing in exciting new directions. The ease with which HTML5 handles video and audio has really helped writers to make the transition to multi-media content, leading to a richer reading experience. I’m excited by interactivity and recently started to work with new technologies, which take interactivity into three-dimensional real spaces, e.g. 3D cameras, touch-screens, and GPS based apps. With these technologies the user is no longer just clicking a mouse or pressing a key but moving their body around a space, and manipulating the virtual reality they are engaging with. I think this is the future. How do you like to use digital technologies in your work? I’m involved in a wide variety of digital text projects. I’m working on a number of web-based projects, in which I’m trying to bring something extra to a piece of writing, whether it’s interactive elements, or those normally associated with other art-forms, like animation, video and sound-tracks. This summer I’m developing a locative app for smartphones, with poet Mark Goodwin, which will feature audio-enhanced poetry and illustrations relating to the Cornish coast, as the reader is actually walking along it. I’m excited to be working on a project that enables the reader to engage with writing on location. I’ve also been working on a number of projects for the exhibition space. I like to use digital text, in an interactive context, in projection art. This work often involves voice recognition software and I’ve started to work with 3D cameras and touch screens. How can these be used in eLearning? We know now that people learn in a variety of different ways - for some people reading a text hits the mark, but others are more visual learners, or learn by listening or doing. Interactivity and multimedia technologies can help not only to make learning more engaging but also more effective. I’m coming to Unicorn as a creative writer and a new media writer concerned with interactivity and multimedia. Unicorn are already working on these areas, and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute some creative ideas of my own. My doctorate focuses on some of the resistance to digital technologies, and some of the reasons people find the transition to digital difficult. I’m sure some of this insight could be really useful in helping Unicorn to help clients. We’re looking forward to having you! I’m really looking forward to my placement at Unicorn. My primary research interest is in digital publishing, so I’m looking forward to finding out a lot more about digital publishing in the education, learning and training sector and what the differences and similarities are when compared with digital publishing in poetry and fiction. Digital publishing in general is growing rapidly at the moment, and I’m sure both eLearning and eLiterature can share valuable good practice.