Think back to a time when cowboys sat around campfires telling stories from yore. While storytelling is still a part of our cultural fabric, today it often accompanies various media forms. During your childhood, you probably participated in story experiences around media too, such as a sing-along or read-along. Given the range of media experiences available today, why not an app-along?
I’d like to think of an app-along as the opportunity to engage in a shared and memorable experience around media – perhaps one that provides the basis for a rich interaction in which participants share their stories, culture, and wisdom with others. Recognizing that not all experiences are equally memorable or engaging, an app-along should at a minimum elicit a collective experience in which each participant identifies with the experience, creating a foundation for further interactions and experiences.
A is for Application
Applications are all-encompassing, referring to the various traditional and/or digital media materials at the heart of the experience. For example, apps, e-books, books, videos, movies, music, pictures, and/or slides. App-alongs could center around traditional media (e.g., paper-based books, newspapers, photographs, slides, etc.), digital media (e.g., apps, e-books, videos, etc.), or a mixture of both.
P is for Participation
Participation is the way in which individuals interact with applications during the experience. Specifically, how participants utilize media - watching, creating, playing, listening, recording, etc.
P is for Play
We participate in experiences because they are fun! Simply put, if it’s not fun, entertaining, or enjoyable we move on to another activity. Exploring unfamiliar landscapes, taking on new challenges, and navigating exciting digital frontiers extend our digital experiences. Why? Because play is an important ingredient for engaging and interactive digital experiences.
A is for Audience
Audience is just like it sounds…it’s the people involved in the experience. This could include children, students, parents, siblings, grandparents, caregivers, extend family members, peers, friends, teachers, speech-language pathologists, librarians, classroom volunteers, etc. Furthermore, an audience isn’t confined to those in the physical environment. It could involve those who are participating on-line through video chat, texting, on-line gaming, etc.
L is for Learning
As humans, we always learn something from our experiences, whether we want to or not. We learn what works and what doesn’t work. We learn through our experiences, forming impressions and memories that may or may not be saved for future experiences or even a lifetime. Experiencing media together produces the opportunity for meaningful, lifetime learning.
O is for Observing
We learn a great deal by observing those around us. Observation serves an important role – whether we are observing new ways of using media through different perspectives or simply confirming that others use media in the same familiar ways we do. When others interact with media in different, unfamiliar ways, we form new connections and sometimes more effective ways of doing things. Other times, observing someone using media in familiar ways confirms the selection and importance of our own media preferences and behaviors. Observing media practices and following the lead of others provides invaluable opportunities to learn more about the digital world around us.
N is for Never-ending
Media is part of our daily lives, both directly and indirectly. Media embedded within our environment provides not only never-ending opportunities to use new forms of media, but also allows us to become a more competent media user with familiar media. However, the connections we have made with media also evolve over time. As we mature, grow, and travel through new seasons in life, the way we interpret the stories that we access through media also change – whether these stories be apps, books, or music. While children may read the same, familiar story over and over, the variety of people who join these narrative journeys add new twists and turns, discoveries, and conclusions. Likewise, even when it appears that we have exhausted the discoveries and functions of a simplistic app, we find new uses as the contexts and audiences we use them with evolve.
G is for Guidance
Interacting with others around media provides an opportunity to guide others on the use of media in quality ways. As adults, we have the opportunity to pass on our knowledge, successes, and failures to the next generation – and mediated experiences are no different. For everyone involved, media provides opportunities to share long-lost memories and relevant information through meaningful media experiences.
What does an app-along mean to you?