Interactive Fiction in Higher Education
College of Management, National Sun Yat-sen University
This presentation introduces productive laziness, a teaching philosophy that simply refers to a low-profile withdrawal in the classroom. We have all witnessed lecturers and hosts who would rather talk than listen. Students or guests, stuck in such situations, yawn and doze off. Productive laziness means that teachers don’t do much; but they do it well. In management, the only theory worth examining is that successful leaders do nothing - nothing but put others to work.
Technical tools bring about the trickiest challenge to pedagogy. The proliferation of images in the 20th century led to our current civilisation of mobile screens, i.e. perpetual and ubiquitous distraction. Distraction is as much a necessary escape of our condition as an annihilation of thinking. Mass images compete in the attention economy to get us spending time on them. And as these commercial images that we haven’t produced squeeze their way into our minds, we stop producing images ourselves.
How should education deal with such a challenge? Prison sentences and other experiences of boredom tell us a lot about the conditions under which, and the extent to which imaginationmay operate. Die unendliche Geschichte(The Neverending Story) is a German best-seller that pictured in 1979 this disappearance of imagination, through the endangered world of Fantasia. I advocate teaching methods that contribute to rebuilding Fantasia and foster mutual learning out of the synergies of play and imagination. Such methods are based on a board game, which structures a type of collective creation called interactive fiction. The game stimulates improvisation and interactions between students and professor. In it, every student writes a short fragment (one or two sentences) that adds up to a class narrative mapped out on a free software (Twine). The presentation concludes with how interactive fiction works in practice.
Keywords: Productive laziness; imagination; interactive fiction.