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Mystory in an Online Environment

written by: Shey Marque•edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 12/10/2009

Intuitive learning in online learning through use of the Mystory teaches students how to create pathways to their own original ideas. Mystory works are especially useful for online learning in the creative arts.

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    What is a Mystory?

    A Mystory is a personal story constructed for the purposes of learning the reasons why we think the way we do, as well as learning how our own positions in the world affect the knowledge we gain about any subject. The Mystory may contain written and oral language, images, video, sound and anything else that can be considered text. Since the Internet is able to accommodate all these textual forms, the Mystory makes for interesting educational pedagogy for online learning in creative arts. Linking together the text in either fixed or alternating sequences tells a story that is at once both personal and open to individual interpretation and learning experiences.

    Whether you’re a writer confronting the blank page or another creative artist searching for inspiration, the Mystory is an interesting intuitive learning process that makes the most of the unique qualities the Internet has to offer, and it is perfect for online learning in creative arts and ancillary disciplines.

    Creation of a Mystory engages natural human intuitive learning and thinking, which is necessary to create an original work. Many of the non-creative disciplines may have difficulties in understanding the relevance of intuitive learning because their traditional syllabus is perhaps largely prescriptive and fixed. Yet the Mystory journey can lead to new and improved understandings of accepted knowledge.

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    Theory of Mystory

    Original creator of the Mystory, Gregory Ulmer, has written several books that offer educational pedagogy for online learning. Although the material in these books can be difficult to grasp fully, there are some basic points that are worth considering as a starting point. His ‘anticipatory consciousness’ theory uses the concept of intuitive learning in order to evolve new ‘editions’ of knowledge for the postmodern age. His idea fully embraces the use of symbols as texts from the philosophies of Barthes and Derrida, and then pushes the conduction of meaning further.

    The online environment is perfect for enriching the creative learning experience through the use of hypertext, espeically online learning in creative arts. Hypertextual learning creates the pathways that lead to original ideas. Barthes and Derrida focused on the linkage of thought processes, while Ulmer’s work takes this theory into the cyber world, which greatly facilitates hypertextual thought and intuitive learning.

    Creative and intuitive learning techniques are discussed in Ulmer’s book ‘Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy’. It provides ideas for educational pedagogy for creative arts students. One technique discussed in the book, ‘Teletheory’, is the ‘Mystory’. The linking of separate ideas to create a new understanding is the goal of the Mystory. Rethinking of accepted or known ideas by making intuitive connections to related information is the key. Choice of information is made by focusing on text that creates a reaction within the self; an intuitive reaction that elicits ideas, memories, emotions and other forms of expression. The results are dependent on the individual’s state of mind at the time of reading and so may evolve over time.

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    Using the Mystory

    Selections of written texts, images, sound or any kind of symbolism that can be read are made by the individual. Then the components are connected by hyperlinks to tell a particular story or alternative stories. These connections may be completely personal and useful for creative self expression and learning about the inner self; such as for autobiographical works.

    Alternatively, the connections may be related to work or study material. Using the same concept of formulating new ideas rather than the interpretation of existing knowledge, the Mystory shows us that real learning is much closer to invention than verification of that which we already know. Most educational institutions have not employed this new mode of learning; perhaps because there is a perception that it is difficult to teach and to assess in the traditional environment. However it shouldn’t be any more difficult to grade than any other creative project.

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    Mystory in the Online Environment

    Three examples of a type of Mystory can be found on the Brain Spasms page of the University of Florida’s Department of English website. These particular examples are semi-autobiographical and as such the connections are entirely personal and therefore open to interpretation by individual readers. While certain types of Mystory are ambiguous in nature, others are easier to follow.

    A guide that includes step by step information on how to construct a Mystory is a useful starting point. A lesson plan entitled ‘Capturing Wisdom with Technology’ for making a type of Mystory, a digital SELF Story, can be viewed on the Scribd website. The lesson plan is designed for students to make an iMovie and includes material adapted for ESL students.

    Jo Horswill, an Australian artist, uses a form of Mystory as a way of gaining inspiration for her creative art and displaying that art and thought processes on her Blog Spot page ‘Mystory’. The resulting journey is interesting to read, explains the origins and evolution of her art, and could even be extended and enhanced further by using hyperlinked material.

    The Mystory can be created in isolation or by interaction with others but is usually a map of how individuals view the world on any given topic. Although the lack of definite rules in creating a Mystory may at first seem confusing, it is exactly this quality that makes the process so easy. As a constructivist activity, the Mystory contributes well towards intuitive learning and developing interesting educational pedagogy for creative arts students, especially online learning in creative arts.

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