Dio is a very interesting web tool that allows users to create interactive environments from scratch. Students can create stories, games, puzzles, or moments in history by adding an image and adding some options for the user to select, almost like a digital, image-based choose-your-own-adventure. Exploring some that have been already made and shared on the site, it reminded me a lot of the hours I lost to the game Myst as a youngster (last week).
For example, the image below opens the story, and the text beneath it tells the user (or game player?) that he/she has woken up in this room. The text describes the room (writing standards!), including the open window and the doorway. The user then can choose to look out the window, try to open the window, or head into the hallway. As the story progresses, you have to explore to get enough clues to get you out of there. (Not all of them are so creepy.) You can try it for yourself here: Windowless Room on Dio.
Project Based Learning: Anytime students are creating something that interests them, the buy-in increases and the quality of the product (and hopefully the learning) does, too. I think some students would really enjoy creating this immersive, interactive world with Dio. With an emphasis on descriptive writing – you don’t add video and often just show a single image per scene – that alone could prove a worthwhile project. However, some other applications do come to mind as well. Most obviously, this could be used to recreate plot and study other elements of fiction (character development, setting, tension, tone, conflict, symbol). Dio could also be used to recreate some historical scenes (and provide alternatives).