Exploring the Future of Storytelling
Students are exploring new methods of storytelling in the latest collaboration between the School of Emerging Media and Technology, Design Innovation and the Reinberger Library Center.
Children’s Literature in Augmented Reality is unlike many other courses on campus. The class examines storytelling, social justice and augmented reality to create new, immersive experiences inspired by children’s literature. This semester, three student groups created dynamic projects that focus on neurodivergence, animal rights and diversity.
“All three projects have not only such different topics, but the entry into those projects is so different,” said Molly Merryman, associate professor in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, who co-teaches the course with Aviva Avnisan, Assistant Professor in the School of Emerging Media and Technology, and Margarita Benitez, Professor of Fashion Design & Merchandising. “We didn’t impose our visions.”
From their initial concepts to the final projects, students are in charge of their approach to the class. Graduate student Alina Uzor, who took the course as an elective, said it challenged her to create and innovate while showing her what she was capable of.
“Accept uncertainty,” said Uzor, a master’s degree candidate in translation. “If you’re used to following instructions, this is not the class for you.”
The class begins with several weeks of team building, coding lessons and hearing from storytelling experts; students are then broken into groups based on their individual skills and ability to collaborate. From there, the class becomes a hands-on project management experience.
“When students go out into the real world they have to know how to collaborate,” Avnisan said. “We are modeling collaboration in a way that I think is much closer to the reality of the interdisciplinary workplace in a lot of fields than a lot of classes.”
Emerging Media and Technology major Rebecca Haywood, ’23, whose group focused on neurodivergent characters, said the course allowed her to create stories she wished she had growing up.
“I am neurodiverse myself so growing up there wasn't a lot of neurodiverse literature, and I know that it would’ve been nice to kind of have something to relate to,” she said. “As soon as we got the opportunity to create our own story, that’s where the idea came from.”
Avnisan said the class transforms social justice just as much as the cutting-edge technology of augmented reality transforms the stories being told.
“That’s one piece, the importance of teaching social justice in new ways, in ways that students at an institution like Kent State can access and connect with,” she said. “I believe that emerging technologies are going to be increasingly central to ways in which we tell and consume stories in our culture.”