Open Doc Lab Talk: Nicole Mills

Tuesday, October 01, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

MIT Building E15, 318

Culturally immersive storytelling in virtual reality

Hansen (2004) states that “FL studies must learn to conceive of culture as an open, multi-voiced and dialogical interaction full of contradictions, rather than as the deterministic, homogeneous and closed structure that belongs to the era of the nation state” (p. 9) One advocated approach to teach transcultural understanding is through the analysis of cultural narratives (MLA report, 2007, p. 4). Kearney (2012) defines cultural narratives as “the multiple (sometimes competing), conventional storylines that cultural groups produce and use to make sense of and attribute meaning to their shared experiences” (p. 59). The complexity of culture unfolds as diverse narratives allow students to realize that there are multiple ways to view events, situations, and the world (Kearney, 2012). This presentation will showcase a project in a beginning French course in which four different Parisians from the same quarter were asked to document and share the stories of their lives with a virtual reality (VR) camera. These VR narratives allowed French language students to see and experience only the architecture and cultural landmarks, but diverse Parisian narratives, rich with cultural complexity, that were unexplored or unexpected.

Nicole Mills is coordinator of the French Language Program at Harvard University where she teaches courses in French, language pedagogy, and second language research and practice. She has publications on various topics associated with virtual and simulated environments in language learning, curriculum development, psychology of language learning and teaching, and language program evaluation. Her current book project Perspectives on Teaching Language and Content (with Stacey Katz Bourns and Cheryl Krueger), in press with Yale University Press, aims to create links between foreign language pedagogy and meaningful content through the intersection of innovative technologies, theories, and approaches.

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Academic, Arts/Music/Film, General

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Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

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School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)


french, storytelling, paris, immersive, VR, FLstudies


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