Designing Decisions: IUP Faculty, Students, and Alumnae featured in Literacy Today

Posted on 4/13/22 1:06 PM

Professor Mike Sell (English), doctoral student Zeeshan Siddique (Literature and Criticism), and IUP alumnae Rachel Schiera (DEd Administration and Leadership Studies) and Julie Babal (MA, Composition and Literature) are featured in the latest issue of Literacy Today.

Literacy Today is published by the International Literacy Association and is recognized as the leading journal in the field of literacy learning and global advocacy for equitable access to literacy.

The article, “Design Decisions: Using Digital Storygames to Teach Storytelling and Decision-Making Skills,” describes the work of the Digital Storygame Project (DSP), a public digital humanities project founded by Sell in 2015 and co-led by Schiera. The DSP supports K-16 teachers in the integration of creative coding, design thinking, and decision-focused storytelling in enrichment programs, English language arts, history, health and nutrition, mathematics, and other standards-based curricula. The DSP accomplishes this with the open-source, user-friendly software program Twine, which enables the creation of interactive digital texts—what we call “storygames”—that are similar to Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books.

Co-authored by Schiera, Sell, Babal, Siddique, and long-time DSP collaborator Susan White, “Design Decisions” describes the ChoPT process: Choice, Plan, Twine. The ChoPT process starts with students exploring, understanding, and evaluating the significance of choices in storytelling. They then move to the planning phase, where learners map the interesting, consequential choices that the characters in their stories will make. And the process concludes with the creation of a Twine storygame that both tells a compelling story and demonstrates smart design choices. The results are inevitably thrilling: “The combination of story writing and game design is intensely engaging, and the buzz of a class when students are designing and sharing their storygames is thrilling to witness.”