Is there a gap in the classroom? Inanimate Alice in Portuguese schools

1 hour
There is still a big gap between electronic literature for children and Portuguese schools. Actually, this situation is in contrast with the increasing interest the educational community and publishers show in print literature for children and young adults in Portugal.
In this paper we aim to develop the steps that the team from the project Inanimate Alice: Translating Electronic Literature for an Educational Context (Centre of Portuguese Literature at the University of Coimbra) took in order to give Portuguese students the opportunity to experience e-lit.
As our ultimate goal is to introduce e-lit in Portuguese schools, the team has translated the first five episodes of Inanimate Alice and is now working on the translation of the Pedagogical Guidance, created by Bill Boyd.
To accomplish that, we needed to find financial support to publish the Portuguese version of the series. So we contacted the two biggest education-oriented Publishing Companies in Portugal, but they rely a lot on the ministerial documents and they barely dare to innovate, as it is safer to publish what the Ministry of Education (ME) recommends schools, teachers and students to buy.
Yet documents such as the Profile for Students issued by the ME in 2017 expose the need to teach them how to read digital texts, but neither publishers nor ministerial documents do recognise the educational potential of hypertextual and multimodal literature.
Being aware that educational changes in Portugal often happen from top to bottom, meaning that we need the approval from the ME to have some impact in classrooms, we contacted the National Reading Plan (PNL) whose Commission asked the universities for books suggestion. It took some months, but finally we were recommended to present Inanimate Alice in a teachers training context on an annual basis as part of the PNL 2017 strategic plan, prepared by the Ministry of Science, Technology of University Teaching.
Meanwhile we contacted some public schools located in the Centre of Portugal in order to conduct, in February 2018, a study based on an experiment in which a large group of sixth and eighth graders interact with Inanimate Alice. With the aim of reducing the gap we mentioned previously, we prepared two questionnaires where we evaluate the students’ aesthetic perception, their attention and immersion, and the comprehension skills required by this kind of work. As to the teachers, we are interested to know what they think about the interest of Inanimate Alice experiment, how it enhances the students’ knowledge, what inherent difficulties it implicates and what activities they would like to suggest.
University of Coimbra
Federal University of Technology of Paraná,
Assistant Professor

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