The New Technologies – New Stories project with the K-12 Curriculum Directorate at the Department of Education and Training in New South Wales, Australia, is under way.

At Zig Zag Public School, students are exploring Inanimate Alice as a mystery genre title.

Students reaction to the episodes are pasted as comments in the blog.


A recent survey of more than 500 district technology directors around the United States says teachers are leading the adoption of web 2.0 rather than the students, the “digital natives,” themselves.

“The research indicates that the movement toward Web 2.0 use to engage students and address individual learning needs is largely being driven in districts from the bottom up–starting with teachers and students,” said Jay Sivin-Kachala, vice president and lead researcher for IESD, in a statement released Monday. “Furthermore, the results show that many districts are using or planning to use Web 2.0 tools in teacher professional development, which suggests that teachers will become increasingly comfortable with these technologies and better able to teach students how to use them safely and productively.”

Angela Thomas, a senior lecturer in English and Arts Education at the University of Sydney, is one example of an educator bringing technology into her classrooms. Not only is Angela sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for a burgeoning field of multimodal narratives and virtual worlds in education, but Angela is also helping students how to use that very technology.

During a recent session of her “Certificate of Digital Literacies,” Angela used Inanimate Alice as an example of a new media narrative which enables various levels of critical study. According to Thomas:

Inanimate Alice provides a great starting point for pointing out to teachers an exemplary form of Digital Fiction. It progressively uses more complex features related to what I’ve termed (Thomas, 2005) as the affordances of digital fiction: multimodality, multiliteracies, hypertext, interactivity, spatiality, and identity. For English teachers who are not adept with technology it provides a wonderful introduction to new forms of narrative, yet the developing sophistication makes it richly layered with features that can be discussed, debated, analysed and interpreted by e-literature theorists. Pragmatically, it is something that every single teacher I work with can leave my workshop and go back and use it in some way in their classrooms. It has connected with all of my students at some level, whether they teach year 2 or year 12. It is very difficult to find such rich examples that are suitable for use in the classroom context and that have a universal appeal. More recently, the encouragement for teachers and their students to remix or mashup the story allows for a much higher level of participation within and around the narrative of Alice’s journey, and its clear that the authors are genuinely pushing boundaries and shaping new narrative possibilities – true artists of new media authoring.

Thomas, A. (2005). Positioning the Reader: The Affordances of Digital Fiction. For: Reading the Past, Writing the Future. Brisbane, Queensland Council for Adult Literacy Inc. pp.24-33.

Thanks in part to our tweeted conversation, Angela also agreed to take photos of her group tweetbusy at work interacting/reading Inanimate Alice. Take a look at some of the wonderful images that Angela has kindly uploaded to Flickr. Doesn’t this just make you want to try digital fiction? (And yes, Angela has a pretty decent computer set-up!). Do read Angela’s blog posts about this session too.

Inanimate Alice is used as an example of “internet art” at the Art Gallery, University of Maryland. The Art Gallery’s “Slow Reveal” -collection of links to internet art sites – was just launched yesterday.

Some of the context of internet art:

“Once the Internet emerged as a mass global communication network in the mid-1990s, artists quickly recognized the possibilities for creative innovation as well as the opportunity to question and redefine the conventions of art. The original term referred to a certain group of artists: Vuk Ćosić,, Alexei Shulgin, Olia Lialina, and Heath Bunting, who identified themselves more as on-line activists.[1] The Internet created an opportunity for them to address some of the most pressing social and ethical issues of the day. As with cable and video in the mid-twentieth century, these artists began inserting themselves into the framework of the Internet while removing themselves from institutional art spaces.” {[1] For more information on early Internet Art, see Stallabrass, Julien. Internet art: online clash with culture and commerce. London: Tate Publishing, 2003.}

Of the works the Art Gallery links to, they say:

“The creators of digital narratives and their audience are responding to the tools of our time, in an attempt to make meaning of our everyday experiences.”

Teacher Diane Aronow provides background on students that have created work inspired by the Inanimate Alice series.

They are all high school special education students, many with learning disabilities, and many that really dislike reading and writing. When I first discovered the Inanimate Alice episodes, I thought they would be perfect for my students. I made up a Unit for them, including some ideas from the educational pack your site provides and adding some of my own ideas. The images, sound, and interactivity truly engaged them and still lent itself to “teaching” literary elements such as setting, mood, characterization. When we completed the 4 episodes, my students couldn’t stop asking, “When is Episode 5 coming out?” I finally said, “You guys are going to create your own!”  I had 4 different classes, each working as a collaborative group. They used a program called PhotoStory 3, which I’m guessing is similar to iStories. My students wished they could have had their episodes “do more”, such as moving text, or clicking on objects, etc. Overall they were happy with their results. I actually had them use an evaluative rubric to score them to see which episode “won”. It was a great learning experience.

Have a look at these links to see what the students have created.

Here is one example:


Created by LaToya S., Theresa K., Diana M., Mitchell C., Angie E.

Episode 1: “China,” Inanimate Alice has been named as an example of “digital literature” in Alan Bigelow‘s curated collection: “In Search of a New(er) Digital Literature.

From Alan’s curatorial statement:

“Given its ongoing (and often surprising) metamorphoses on the web, it is dangerous to lay claim to a universal identity for digital literature, where exceptions to the rule often signal the coming of new forms, new iterations. But as a result of recent technologies, and digital literature’s explosive re-invention of itself on the web, some aesthetic patterns may be emerging on the contemporary scene that offer hope for a form still struggling for its public identity.

Of course, not all digital literature is found on the web—interactive multimedia installations, CD/DVD-based works, and live performances with multimedia components, to name a few, are important and fascinating parts of the digital literature scene. The offline component to this exhibition,for example, shows that web-based art can have a life outside the virtual world, something many galleries and museums are finallyrecognizing as digital literature makes its way into art centers and exhibition venues worldwide.

But for the most part, the works in this exhibition, and many like them, find their life, and major readership, on the web. The web is not just a quick and expedient way to find an audience for digital literature, a way to self-publish at minimal cost, and a path to self-promotion; it also offers worldwide access to a multimedia platform for which these works can be created, and provides a place for them to thrive. As the public has growing access to cable and DSL, and browsers become more adept at handling different media, the web becomes an increasingly friendly place for digital literature, and for an audience weaned—through their daily cyber-lives—on multimedia, connectivity, and interactivity.”

MERLOT: Multimedia Educational Resource for Online Teaching has Inanimate Alice up on their site, noting it as a useful tool in teaching:

“A teaching resource for digital literacy, stimulus for story telling and creativity that is FREE to download. It has been developed in partnership between BradField and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and its schools. “Inanimate Alice” the multi award-winning interactive audio-visual narrative from new-media production house the BradField Company (BradField) has been identified by Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) as delivering compelling new media suitable for an education audience. Seen by over 1 million viewers (estimate), it is an aid to creativity in the classroom, assisting in story telling and literacy and can be a free and major contribution to the creative curriculum that has been welcomed by teachers accessing it.”

See here for more:

Teacher and Student Feedback

September 17, 2008

Recently we’ve been receiving some awesome feedback from teachers and students reading Inanimate Alice. The latest comes from Kris Fontez at Union City Middle School. He says:

My students are really enjoying your story! When will another episode be ready?”

That’s great new Kris! We’re glad your students are enjoying Alice’s stories.

Kris also encouraged her students to respond to Alice via e-mail! Here are some comments that Alice shared with us:

“Alice, I enjoy all the stories you have made so far. I wish you could finish all the rest of the stories because the stories are great. I really like the hand held player in the stories. Brody”

“I really liked your program and i cant wait until episodes 5-10 comes out please make them as good as the other ones. One thing i liked was the music. Thanks from your fan.”

“Alice, When will the next story be out? I like the music, sound effects, and the games you put on there. Hope you write back.
Thanks, Jaelynn”

“Dear Alice, I have been watching your shows in art class. I love how you make every thing sound so real. In episode 4 I think it shows that you should not do evrything your friends tell you to. I really enjoy these clips. I always look forword to art class each day because I like them so much. And I am very excited to see episode five. Kaylee”

“Alice, Hi I really like the stories. I think they are really cool. My fave thing about them is the stories are kinda like mysteries and i really like mysteries.I really like the player and the musterious music andalso I hope that the new one will be here soon. I really really like the games my friend and I try to get them finished in art class but dont have time to finish them but I really like the games. THANK YOU so much and i hope a new one will be out soon. VICTORIA”

“Alice, i really liked your story i thought that it was awsome i can’t wait for your next one. i liked the music and the graphics the best.thanks jacob.”

“Allice, Your story is very awesome. I love the way you use your player and how you made brad up!! I also like the way you use the music. It sounds like something scarry is going to come up when the musicstarts! I like all of your houses you have had in the last 5 episodes. I realy like your house with the pool because it looked like a HOT tubb. All of your freinds are cool excpecialy the friend that has the towel around her head!! The last thing i like about your episodes is your games and your player!!Michaela!”

“Alice, I like your stories. I like the music and I like your player. It is fun when I get to play the games. The stories are fun to read. I thought Brad was cool too. you should keep making more stories. Patrick”

“Alice I liked your stories. I liked the handhold player I thought it was cool. I also liked the music and the sound effects. I thought Brad was cool too.
Limas Wheeler”

“Alice, I enjoy the music,sound effects,and stories from inanimate Alice. I really mostly liked the hand held player and the games. thanks for the stories and I hope that inanimate Alice eposode 5 comes soon. thanks again. your viewer, Tyler”

“I really like all of the webasods i can,t choose one cause they are all apsalutly fabulas. I like to know when there will be more. i really like the grafics and music. Without them the story would not be the same your stoys have a lot of axpretion to them keep them coming.
your reader
any one who dose notlike your story are totaly WERD!”

“Alice, I really liked your story from Russia. I like the backround music you play because it makes me want to jump to the next slide to see what is going to happen.When is your next vidio? My favorite part was when you got to hide in the closet. Thank you, Nicole”

“Alice, I really really enjoy your story, i liked the music, and the player. I am excited to see your next story!! They are so fun to read. The part when Alice is in the closet, and your mom opens the doors is very scarry!! Do you know what your next one will be about? My class is very excited to see what you come up with!! Thank you, Jena”

“Dear, alice i really like your vidioes and your sound effects are almost like it is very scarey like someone is dieing or somthing.i really liked that you put a different color player every episode. why on number4 did you say that the kids in school are almost better than the ones that you would make on the player? anyways i think you were really creative with your things like with a friend that you could talk to that you made on your player.i think that you should actually make these a little bit longer and put them as a dvd or a vhs because they would be watched all the time because they are so very interesting you could even leave them how they are and put them on one of those things.why don’t you make it where we can see the people when they are talking and why don’t you let us see your parents when they are driving the are such a really good auther and if you could make some more because i would be on the computer every day just watching your stuff because you are so do you get the sound effects in there as you are typing. how can you make the sentences do the movements without not being able to see what you wrote.i would really like to be able to do the cool things that you do because it is just so there really a player by that name? Heather”

“Dear Alice, I relly like your short movies. And espcilly epsode 4 hometown and how. brad helps you.And the design of the player. we love your movies Alexis”

“Dear Alice is thar ever going to be a stoe wen you aer 18? I hope you do.
Your frend ron”

“Dear Alice, when are you gonna make a new show they were really awsome exspecially when you get to play the games. How do you even make them I mean that will be hard,you must take alot of time. Thanks,Marissa”

“Dear Alice, I love your shows. When will your new episode be ready? I like that it was a little scarey cuz I like scarey things. I have alot in common with Alice because I move alot too. Thanks

“Alice, I like your skits and I like the last skit and the games the most.The music is cool I like how the music matches the culture. I hope the other books are good as the ones we have already read. thanks, sam”