Hopkins CD-ROM Allows Students to Get Lost in A Doll HouseIn high schools across the country, students are taught classic plays in literary form, just as if they were novels or poems. Because schools rarely can afford to send students to see these dramas performed on professional stages, students often miss the complexities of important plays.
But with a click of the mouse, students can get lost in a CD-ROM version of Henrik Ibsen s great drama A Doll House, created by undergraduate and graduate students at The Johns Hopkins University. The disk, funded by the Annenberg/CPB Project, includes video, images, text and music that offer users an engaging and interactive introduction to one of the most influential works in modern literature. By the time a student has explored every aspect of the CD-ROM, he or she has not only a sense of the importance of the play itself but also an understanding of the life of the theater and of how a wonderful script can be interpreted in an new way with every performance.
Enter the simulated theater and click on Ibsen s image sitting in the balcony. From there you can pore through excerpts from the playwright s biographies, notes he wrote while writing the play, photos, poems, letters and speeches. Or go back to the theater and click onto two actors rehearsing on stage. Then compare scenes from three film versions of the play featuring Anthony Hopkins, Jane Fonda and Juliet Stevenson, each offering very different interpretations of Ibsen s characters. Or click onto the set and enter the design archive, where you can view photographs and drawings of the stage history of the play and compare the choices set designers have made since its first production in the mid-19th century.
In the library, learn about the historical context of the play. Here, topics of great significance to Ibsen s work, like feminism, disease, and the bourgeoisie, can be explored in primary and secondary historical sources. The library also contains reviews and other works that document how critics and social commentators responded to Ibsen s work 100 years ago.
As educational as the finished product is, it was an equally charged learning experience for the Hopkins students who created it. It is the first of a digital drama series by Hopkins s Center for Digital Resources and Development, led by English professor Jerome Christensen and biology senior lecturer Harr y Goldberg. Graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines have not just become acquainted with the technology and graphic artistry that goes into making a CD-ROM; they have also learned a great deal about other issues like copyrights, publishing original archived material and designing the most interactive and effective learning experience possible.
It was an amazing learning experience, says Maura LoMonico, a 1996 Hopkins graduate, assistant editor of the CD-ROM, who is now web site coordinator for the Annenberg/CPB Project. One of the beauties of multimedia projects is that they require a collaboration of people with all sorts of backgrounds and skills. With all those different types of minds working together - from the students who were programmers to humanities majors like me - we were all doing what we do best, but in ways we d never tried before. We learned a lot from each other.
Support from the Annenberg/CPB Project for the non-profit undertaking has made it possible to sell the CD-ROM for $39.95. The CD-ROM can be purchased by calling 1-800-LEARNER or through the Annenberg/CPB Project s website at www.learner.org.
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