Berliner sehen is a hypermedia documentary that engages students of German in the exploration of everyday life in the changing city of Berlin since the fall of the Wall. Featuring 28 hours of authentic (not scripted) conversations and thousands of archival materials, the Berliner sehen web application focuses on eight Berliners from two neighborhoods – one in the east and one in the west. As the residents discuss everything from personal relationships to the role of the state in the former GDR, students are able to listen in, observe, and develop their own insights. Film clips and archival documents are assigned broad categories to facilitate exploration, but students are encouraged to gather and sort materials according to their own interests. The interface, which displays a single media document in the center surrounded by related thumbnail images, provides focus and context, and helps students to see the connections among the materials. “The more the students work with the material, the more interesting it gets,” says project lead and MIT faculty member Kurt Fendt. “Repetition suddenly becomes a meaningful activity,” he adds, because each time through, a conversation can reveal new meanings.
Publicly accessible, Berliner sehen has been used in a variety of language and culture courses at MIT, Harvard University, Vassar College, University of California at Berkeley, Williams College, McGill University, and Cornell University
Hyperstudio RoleDesigned unique user interface and developed innovative hypertext web application to support foreign language and culture education. Created sustainable, modular platform for similar projects.
HyperStudio Team: Elias Argyriou, Christopher York, Ben Williams
Project Lead: Kurt Fendt, Principal Research Associate in Foreign Languages and Literatures/Comparative Media Studies and Executive Director of HyperStudio at MIT and Ellen Crocker, senior lecturer in German.
Filmmaker: Hanno Baethe (INTERACT)