Daily Tasks – Thursday, 01-21-2015

  • Lecture: 90 minutes
  • Literature:
    • Horstman: Scala for the Impatient. [1]
    • Hoffmann, Heinrich: Struwwelpeter – Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Phillipp: http://www.math.uni-bielefeld.de/~philfahr/download/zappelphilipp/zappelphilipp.html  [2] 


Today’s lecture was really exciting – it was all about storytelling. Now, one might think: how is storytelling related to didactics?

Picture from the “Zappelphilipp”

Well, we can use the might of story-telling and adapt it in our didactical approaches. Look at children: if their parents read books – from the Grimm brothers, for example – the children will be teached by the morals that the fairy-tales were about. Think of the “Zappelphillip” [2] story that many Germans now – at least I hope so. In this short-story, the narrator told how Phillip ruined the lunch (or dinner-time) because he was constantly making his chair move. He didn’t react even after his parents condemned him. At the end, the mess finally happened – all the things fell of the table. Nowadays, I still remember this story and I was really glad when I was reading stories with my niece and she gave me the short-story collection of Heinrich Hoffmann’s “Struwwelpeter”. So, this way of teaching children things is still present.

Reviewing the last lectures, this showed me again that the term “new” for new media is kind of mismatching – many things remain to be useful for teaching and so does this story from the beginning of the 19th century! Where does this might come from?

As we learned in today’s lesson, it mainly comes from the imagination that children develop if they listen to stories. When I was reading out loud, my niece would really calm down, she would be focussed on my voice and looking at the pictures. Pictures are not really neccessary for developing a rich imagination, but they support children and maybe make it easier for them. In my personal opionion, children should still be allowed to develop their own imagination and get as less media that breaks though this imagination as possible. Do I sound like an old man who is blocking himself from new media?

Last image from “Zappelphilipp”

Well, I don’t. At least, my job is to build things that our current new media – the world wide web – consists of. What I want to say is that the modern possibilities to tell stories like audio, video and games don’t allow to develop an own imagination as strong as books do. Instead, they transport final objects of imagination (such as characters, things and the setting in general). This might be useful for delivering big amounts of information in relatively small time – but not to intensively get in touch with certain topics. I really remember a lot of stories where I had to build my own imagination – but there are so many movies I completely forgot about and I could watch again without even remembering!

So, within digital stories you have a lot of supporting media: music which indicates emotions, perspectives etc. The web allows to combine those stories – our professor was even talking about Hypervideo as adaption of Hypertext (the basis of our World Wide Web). That would be really interesting and indeed be a nice didactical method to let the learner be more active in examining learning materials.

And this leads me to the key question that our lecture ended with: who is in control? Is it the author or the reader of a story? Is it the teacher or learner? Video-Games for example allow the gamer to be more active and make decisions to solve certain problems – that’s why I’m not totally against this new media but stating that each media type as its advantages and disadvantages.

The didactical elements that I listed in the last entries here came with several discussions which role the learner should play. Should he be forced to do something (like behaviorism) or does he need to organize the learning himself (like a MOOC)?

In general, I guess we shouldn’t only reduce didactical solutions to one fixed approach. As my example about new media shows: the media types are different and so are their aims. Stories allow to teach very basic things that remain in mind for long time. Video tutorials allow to teach things that are constantly changing (like programming topics) in a relatively quick time – this is a key requirement in our fast-growing society. So, blended learning is really nice because it combines a lot of those different elements – traditional learning on the one side, individual learning on the other side.


Beside the short story of the Zappelphillipp I also read a short book called “Scala for impatient” because that’s what I was – impatient. I needed to get a quick but well explained overview on the Scala syntax and I wasn’t disappointed!