Overview

The Kaleidostories research project uses the creation of personal narratives in the context of an online virtual community to explore how web-based collaborative environments can become “tools to think with” about issues of identity.

Kaleidostories [Greek kalos (beautiful) + eidos (form) + stories] is a computational platform that allows researchers and educators to create their own narrative-based virtual communities. Kaleidostories was first designed as part of Prof. Marina Bers’s doctoral work at the MIT Media Laboratory and is currently being revised and upgraded as part of Bers’s research at the Developmental Technologies Research Group, in the Dept. of Child Development at Tufts University.

Kaleidostories has been used by Bers in two pilot experiences in which middle and high school students and their teachers, in five different Spanish/English sites around the world, created a virtual community to exchange stories about shared values and role models. The goal of this research project was to explore how new technologies can assist young people to discover their own selves as well as the underlying patterns of thought and behavior that connect the worldviews proposed by different cultures. The project shows how teachers were able to use the online community to complement and augment their face to face activities and interactions by integrating Kaleidostories into different curricular content areas.

Tufts’s doctoral student Dorothy Warner, has done research using Kaleidostories as a support group component for adolescents with Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). Kaleidostories served as an additional way to build a collaborative community in which individuals can explore issues that are important to them, such as goals and ways of reaching them.

People

The Kaleidostories research project was first conceived and designed by Prof. Marina U. Bers as part of her doctoral work at the MIT Media Laboratory, under guidance of Prof.Seymour Papert. At the time Undergraduate Research Assistants Aaron Arakawa and Aaron Valade played a significant role in its first implementation.

At Tufts, Kaleidostories was significantly revised, extended and reimplemented as part of a CS senior project done by Ursula Deelstra, Jason Hall,Jeffrey R Held, Michael Moore and Matthew L Gasbarro.