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Contextualized/Interactive learning tool
The Hypermedia Berlin project is an exciting invitation to finally learn in an interesting way via interactive tools of World Wide Web. The conceptualization of a "non-flânuer" in a virtual space of ominous Berlin via intersection of texts, images, sounds and maps really invites one to take a stroll through the city and at the same time actively explore historical sites, buildings and people. The concept of hypertexts linking important information allows jumping in time and space in a relatively free fashion not constricted by traditional linear narrative structures. In fact, he power that user achieves by individual and active navigation through multilayers of Berlin makes it more personal and enjoyable experience that ultimately serves as contextualized learning process. This new hypermedia/hypertext book offers a new media solution to interactive and interdisclinary approach to learning by combining new media texts with concepts, history and topographical maps that actually serve as concrete factual artifacts that connect real people and history into a one virtual reality.
Focusing on the drawbacks of this project does not have to be a negative activity due to the constant improvement available via technological tools and internet collaboration. Thus, new places, people, images, sounds, clips, etc. similarly to the Wikipedia concept, can be added in an unlimited way to deepen the experience of Hypermedia Berlin project, thus making in more viable tool for learning cultural history for other disciplines as well. However, the questions of remediation and reception of history will always remain in a center of discussion as we progress into new media ways of learning altering the old and inviting the always “threatening” new.
- ewa Mularczyk, USC, 12.08.2005
The Hypermedia Berlin hypertextbook seeks to radically redefine the way that students study cultural history creating a “non-linear topological approach to cultural history.” This interactive map allows students to view Berlin through time and space and encourages them to visit the city they are studying virtually. The interactive textbook allows students to visualize the landscape and the topography of the city they are studying in great detail and gives them the opportunity to “visit” it in a way not possible with a traditional text. The hypertextbook forces students to rethink their ways of learning so that the textbook is not set, and as a result becomes something that can be added to and altered by them. Students get to participate in the construction of the text that they are learning from through their own projects and interactions.
This idea of the hypertextbook is defined by Presner as being a sort of “radical montage” that plays with the idea that “history breaks down into images, not stories.” I think that idea may be a bit limited, though, because actually it seems to me that the hypertextbook’s strength is that it allows both images and stories to be connected within the frame of the textbook. Initially it allows you to navigate primarily through images, a reversal of the standard textbook form of starting with words, but by digging into the visuals the user is able to find the words that illuminate the images further. I think this reversal of common practice is very effective. My concern with using this as a pedagogical tool is that it does not seem to be something that could be used yet as the model, as I think it seems like it would be best suited for use in a smaller class, where all the students would actually be able to interact with it in the classroom space.
- Elizabeth Affuso, Los Angeles, 12.08.2005
This project seems like an innovative and unique approach to curriculum for understanding and engaging critically with the cultural history and geography of a specific space. Abandoning traditional chronologically-based textbook, Hypermedia Berlin is a “non-linear topological approach to cultural history.” While that might just seem like a fancy way of saying “interactive maps,” the close integration of supplementary texts, images and multimedia content creates a contextualized virtually experiential learning tool. Rather than following a single, linear historical narrative of cultural space, this model offers a varying multitude of changing associative narratives. And that is cool. But what is perhaps most interesting to me is the collaborative interactivity that allows students to contribute and enhance the project with their own research and experiences. The hypermedia textbook thus becomes a dynamic, continually growing learning experience. I’m eager to see this model expanded and applied to other cultural spaces.
The project presumably allows visitors to virtually explore and immerse themselves within the cultural history of a Berlin, in lieu of actually visiting the space. But I also wonder how this project could be utilized even further to enhance the experience of actual visitors to Berlin. Surely, Hypermedia Berlin can be adapted for viewing on PDAs and mobile devices. What are the implications of a hypermedia-enhanced real-life visit to Berlin? A hyper-real experience?
- Philip Yu, USC, 12.09.2005