No recuerdo is an interactive video project designed to provide intermediate college students of Spanish with a simulated immersion experience in South America, integrating linguistic and cultural aspects. The objectives are improved listening comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, cultural awareness, and writing skills. Combining documentary and fictional elements, it offers authentic language (from native speakers of Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico). Multimedia tools provide instant repetition of short audio or video segments, partial or full text transcriptions, and glosses. Students, acting as reporters, engage in a virtual exploration of neighborhoods of Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia, and research and write feature articles about their experiences. They send reports and receive text comments from their newspaper editors.
Students have at their disposal specific tools that help them navigate through the program and accomplish their tasks, including maps,
a fax machine, and an archive containing essays on Hispanic culture and supplementary news reports.
During much of the program, the student reporter is engaged in simulated conversational interchanges with video characters. The reporter chooses responses by clicking on one of several text options.
Some video characters are actual people encountered during the short walks in Bogotá.
More extensive conversational exchanges occur during interviews with the protagonists of the narrative.
The reporter begins with neutral topics (the weather, travels, study, family, sports, food, music) and becomes enmeshed in the narrative. The story, which contains elements of science fiction, romance and adventure, involves the disappearance of a famous Colombian microbiologist,
and his reappearance after a car accident, as a result of which he claims to be suffering from amnesia.
Student reporters try to help him recover his memory and avert a disaster arising from a genetic experiment gone awry. The scientist claims to have been kidnapped by a woman with whom he became romantically involved; interviews with the woman provide a conflicting version of events.
At various points in the interviews, the reporter is privy to flashback scenes supporting a particular version. Student decisions, which depend on strategic thinking and reflection, affect the branching of the narrative and access to diverse endings. Diverse student experiences promote exchange of information, contrasting interpretations and role-play in class.
A simulated immersion experience in South America, designed to improve listening comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, cultural awareness, and writing skills.
Traditional linear materials normally do not allow language-learners to confront authentic-level native speech, which would overwhelm them. Interactive multimedia can offer simulated immersion in a culturally and linguistically authentic environment, while providing specially-designed manipulative, access and glossing tools. Learner empowerment and motivation need to be increased by interactive branching (in documentary explorations and/or storylines) and by development of the learner's role within the simulation (tasks, strategic thinking, reflection). Beyond interactive branching, extensive simulated conversations, which present a formidable design challenge, are especially appealing and useful for the language-learning environment. In addition, open-ended exploratory designs benefit from the inclusion of guidance and structured tasks. The special challenge for designing a simulation for students of Spanish, for whom exposure to Hispanic "magic realism" is particularly appropriate, is to include elements of fantasy to balance contact with those of social realism.
Interactive narrative (containing elements of science, science fiction, romance and adventure), presented largely as simulated conversations, with embedded documentary segments (brief visits to various parts of Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia).
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- Douglas Morgenstern,
- Principal Investigator, Pedagogical Design, Story Author, Producer
- Janet H. Murray,
- Principal Investigator, Executive Producer, Design
- Ana Beatriz Chiquito
- Sue Felshin
- Stuart Malone
- Principal Programmers
- Sue Felshin
- Stuart Malone
- Special Interface Design
- Andrew Bennett
- Dorothy Shamonsky
- Additional Authors
- Mar’a González-Aguilar
- Diana Bárzana
- Ana Beatriz Chiquito
- Margarita Ribas Groeger
- NEH Advisor
- Trisha Dvorak
- John Gutiérrez
- Wilga M. Rivers
- Video Director
- Rus Gant
- Bogotá Video
- Michael Greenberg
- Production Supervisor
- Ben Davis
- Audio and Video Protagonists
- Gonzalo Fonseca Ortega
- Pilar Cabrera Franco
Major funding is provided by The Annenberg/CPB Project.
Additional funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning, and Apple Computer.
Familia Isaza; Familia Villate; Oswaldo Castro Alvarez, M.D.; Julián Iragorri Sus; Dr. Gladys Perret; Ligea Villalba; J. Mario Valencia and Mar’a Cecilia Valencia; Avianca, Jennifer Burckette-Evans, LASPAU, Harvard University; Isabel Campoy, Houghton-Mifflin Company; Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT; Consultate of Colombia, Boston; Consulate of Colombia, New York; Consulate of Venezuela, Boston; Drs. Gerald Fink and Cora Styles, Whitehead Institute; Inravisión; Los Andes Restaurant; Massachusetts General Hospital; National Spanish Television; Noticiero Prómec; School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University; Dr. Steven Wertheim
Direct all inquires to
Janet H. Murray
Currently still in development; can be demonstrated only at MIT. Beta test sites are planned for 1997. MIT is currently in negotiations with a major U.S. publisher.
Intermediate-level Spanish students (third or fourth semester) in college, either (1)working alone or in small groups in a language laboratory setting; or (2) in groups an appropriately-equipped classroom, with the teacher acting as facilitator.
Macintosh (recent model, with at least 8 MB RAM), CD-ROM.
Began in 1984 as part of the Athena Language Project, as an interactive narrative, designed as a conversation simulator with natural-language processing (using a parser running in Lisp). The conversation was created to exemplify appropriate discourse behavior for information-gathering, as suggested by Claire Kramsch. Two-sided videodisc, containing approximately one hour of motion video with audio and an additional 60 minutes of audio, created in 1988. Early version used on Athena workstations with third-semester Spanish classes for two years. In the Laboratory for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, No recuerdo was readapted for the Macintosh platform (programmed in SuperCard) without artificial intelligence capabilities but with a new user role (as reporter, communicating with editors) and additional cultural texts; part of program used with third-semester students in experimental situations for several semesters. Currently material from videodisc is being readapted for CD-ROM, entailing additional programming in SuperCard and C++ with enhanced content still being created (simulated text interviews that are part of the fictional component). In the future, audio versions of new interviews will be recorded in Colombia by the video protagonists and in the United States by male and female native speakers who will provide the model voices for audio analogues of the students' text response choices. Supplementary print materials, for student and teacher, are also planned. An important by-product of the development process has been the creation of an authoring system for extensive, multi-layered simulated conversations, which can take into account linguistic variables (gender, number, formal/informal register) and which can access combinations of motion video, still frames, audio and text.
The narrative component of No recuerdo shares features with other interactive narratives, such as A la rencontre de Philippe and Operación Futuro. The documentary portions share features with much more complex documentary explorations, such as Dans le quartier St. Gervais; The Star Festival; Berliner sehen; and Paradoja.
The first interactive videodisc with narrative branching designed for language learners was Montevidisco, developed at Brigham Young University, Utah.
by Douglas Morgenstern
"Tracking the Missing Biologist," (co-authored with J. Murray) Humanities, 16: 5 (1995), 33-38.
"Shifting Paradigms, Shifting Sands: Interactive Multimedia for Language Learning," Simulation and Gaming: An International Journal of Theory, Design, and Research 23: 1 (1992), 82-87
"Simulation, Interactive Fiction and Language Learning: Aspects of the MIT Project," Bulletin del l'ACLA / Bulletin of the CAAL (Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics) 8:2 (1986), 23-33.
"The Athena Language Learning Project," Hispania 69 (1986), 740-45.
"An Overview of the MIT Athena Language Learning Project," (co-authored with C. Kramsch and J. Murray) The CALICO Journal, June 1985, 31-34.
"Technology for Language Learning and Teaching: Designs, Projects, Perspectives" (with G. Furstenberg), Teaching Languages in College--Curriculum and Content, W.M. Rivers, ed., National Textbook Company, 1992, 117-140.
"Simulations on computers: Elements and examples" (with J. Higgins), in Simulation, Gaming, and Language Learning, D. Crookall and R. Oxford, eds.,New York: Newbury House Publishers (Harper and Row), 1990, 183-189.
"The Athena Language Learning Project: Design Issues for the Next Generation of Computer-Based Language Learning Tools," (with J. Murray and G. Furstenberg) in Modern Technology in Foreign Language Education, Wm. Flint Smith, ed., ACTFL and National Textbook Company, 1989, 97-118.
"Artifice versus real-world data: Six simulation for Spanish learners," in Simulation-Gaming in the late 1980's: Proceedings of the International Simulation and Gaming Association's 17th International Conference, D. Crookall et. al., eds. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1987, 101-109.