The Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP) has developed a three-part literacy system that engages youth in language and media literacy learning while making a positive intervention in online game spaces. Launched on April 23, 2007, Shakespeare’s birthday, CASP’s Online Integrated Learning System (OILS; Patent Pending) is a hybrid online/in- or out-of-class system that fuses a fast-paced, highly interactive game play environment that is rich with language and media literacy content with in-class learning modules. The system allows teachers to use the huge volume of research and pedagogical material created by CASP to reinforce the online experience. The three main OILS components include ‘Speare: The Literacy Arcade Game, the Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet, and the Shakespeare Learning Commons.
‘Speare: The Literacy Arcade Game:
‘Speare is a fun game that teaches literacy skills as an outcome of spontaneous game play in an authentically appealing interface. The game has been carefully designed to entertain in a way that balances its entertainment value with its pedagogical outcomes.
‘Speare fully integrates gaming and educational goals to the degree that the two are indistinguishable.
Some problems that ‘Speare aims to address:
The vast majority of online games and websites do not present positive, productive, learning environments for youth (elementary school through undergraduate).
- Three fifths of American teenagers play video games each week, and a quarter of them play games six hours or more – most of these commercial games have no educational value, and contribute to violent, dissociated engagement with media.
- In contrast to the commercial gaming market, educational games rarely have authentic appeal to gamers thus limiting their efficacy and widespread dissemination.
‘Speare addresses the problem of how to be pedagogical and how to appeal to gamers simultaneously.
Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet:
The Interactive Folio is a new form of E-publication – a hybrid text that provides users with access to a wide array of materials online in an interface that uses Shakespeare’s text as the conduit to explore multimedia and other play-related material (much of it original) that adapts and contextualizes Shakespeare’s own works.
Users have the option to decide what tools they wish to employ in reading the text. As well as Shakespeare’s own text presented clearly with minimal intervention, users have access to:
- The sources upon which Shakespeare based his Romeo and Juliet story with original critical material exploring these texts for youth audiences
- An original database of facts about Romeo and Juliet that focus on adaptation
- Act and scene synopses that highlight key moments, themes, and issues in the play designed to engage youth to think creatively
- Character biographies that include a short text description with images showing examples of how characters have been adapted in various productions
- Interviews with leading academics and theatre practitioners about the play
- Streaming videos showing how Shakespeare’s play has been adapted into a variety of media including film, stage, television, Claymation and more.
- Audio clips that feature readings of key passages and music created for or adapted from the play
- An original lexicon that translates, describes, and contextualizes challenging words, terms, and figurative language in the play
- Images showing adaptations of Shakespeare’s work into a wide variety of media
Links from the Interactive Folio direct users back to ‘Speare, as well as to the Shakespeare Learning Commons on the CASP website.
The Shakespeare Learning Commons (SLC) presents material for the in-class component of the hybrid online/in-class system of OILS. The SLC presents complete teachers’ guides based on content included in the Interactive Folio and in ‘Speare. Activities based on the Shakespeare Trivia Anthology, quotes from Romeo and Juliet, the ethics of gaming, and other material from the OILS provide teachers and students with all of the resources needed to bring this material into the classroom.
Each teachers’ guide provides links to the resources needed to complete the lesson, including teacher and student instruction sheets, student worksheets and handouts, and links to further resources as needed. These materials are original and have been created by CASP researchers in consultation with leading curriculum consultants.
For more information about the OILS and ‘Speare, contact ApolloGames at:
For more information about the OILS, the Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet and the Shakespeare Learning Commons, contact Daniel Fischlin at: