Week 03: ACT01 - Story Instincts

The past couple of weeks have been the preface to our story, and now we begin ACT 01 in which we focus on story norms and how they shape us.

This Week

  • We will examine story archetypes and recipes.
  • We will watch some videos and annotate this web page.
  • We will begin planning your first story project, due in 3 weeks (09/20)

Brad's Notes

INTE5340 uses a story-framework in which you (the learner) are the hero, we (the teachers) are mentors, and your classmates (them) are your sidekicks. This is a novel approach to course and lesson design that builds upon our universal familiarity with story. We've heard them and shared them our entire lives.

Stories are pervasive and reside at the core of humans being. As a result, people have a type of pattern recognition that is essentially a story instinct. It comes from a lifetime of hearing and telling stories; deducing truth and fiction; reading between the lines; and interpreting the world. This instinct is what lets us accurately guess the ending to a movie, a novel, or song - we often know exactly what is going to happen.

Understanding and recognizing these patterns are empowering to the best of the best storytellers, including you the teacher.  Anyone seeking to shape the thinking, values, or behavior of others - does so with stories.  Politicians, parents, preachers, celebrities, media, teachers, friends, and...


[[      I'm telling you a story right now.      I'm setting up your hero's journey.     ]]


A few patterns you'll instinctually recognize:

  • Overcoming the Monster
    The hero must destroy the monster to restore balance to the world.
  • Rags to Riches / the Underdog
    A modest and downtrodden character achieves a happy conclusion when their natural talents are displayed to the world at large.
  • The Quest
    A mission from point A to point B. A story about transformation through travel and homecoming.


[[     Do you see how these story arcs can inspire a learning journey?    ]]


Whatever the recipe may be, our stories tend to follow a pattern where the protagonist(s) leave their comfort zone, face conflict, and change for the better.   This pattern can be broken down into many sub-elements, but this is essentially it.


As avid storytellers and sophisticated story consumers, we know the patterns so well that we frequently complete them in our minds, before the storytelling is complete.  We fill in the blanks.  

It's important to understand that storytelling is how we define ourselves.  It is how families embrace tradition, honor values, and establish norms.  It is how leaders inspire, educate, and motivate.  It is how our groups, group...  churches, schools, political parties, schools, clubs, and all of it.   Stories.  

Storytelling is baked into our social-emotional DNA.
Stories are how culture, communities, and people evolve.

This is the setting for the INTE5340 hero's journey.  We will explore story contexts, patterns, tools, and trends as we unpack the impacts of modern storytelling.  We will pay particular attention to how digital storytelling shapes us and how we can shape it.  

We will play with our own digital stories, primarily so we can roll up our sleeves and understand the mechanics of making media.  

Ideally you will exit INTE5340 a better story maker and a better story consumer; and I hope, a better teacher and a better learner.

About 200,000 years ago, we evolved to become the most important force for change on the planet. Our knack for collective learning — preserving information, sharing it with one another, and passing it to the next generation — helps us create entirely new forms of complexity. - Big History Project

This Week's Tasks

  1. Read, watch and annotate this web page. This is our course context!  Open on this page, and answer any questions I have posted for you there. And share any questions or comments you like!  
  2. Begin planning your first digital story.  Take a look at the Kickstarters page for ideas, inspiration, and examples from past students.  Pick one that interests or inspires you, and tell us about it in the #act01 Slack channel. Is this something you might do?  
  3. Smile and complete the WeeklyThing by Sunday.  The WeeklyThing will be posted to the #03-weeklythings Slack channel on Tuesday.  
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About Brad Hinson

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