I’m not a native English speaker, I’m not that much into theatre and I have little patience for drama… Yet, living in an English speaking country, I’ve always felt a tad ashamed not to know any of Shakespeare’s play. But the mere thought of suffering through all the old-fashioned words and other subtle historical references has always been enough to keep me away from one of the brightest mind the world has seen (or so I’ve been told).
A couple of days ago, I’ve met the people behind Shakespeare in bits, an iPad (and formerly desktop) apps provider, that aims to make Shakespeare simple. Here’s a screenshot of the Desktop version of Midsummer Night Dream:
At first sight, one will not be impressed by the animations. Interestingly enough though, I’ve felt after listening to a couple of scenes, that this simplicity was beneficial to the experience. I was focusing on listening and reading at the same time, while taking advantage of the explanations (words definition mostly) provided in the app. The animation itself was good to have, it was making the play more interesting, while not being so compelling that I would want to watch it all.
We’re at the beginning of the use of tablets for learning and we will see many improvements and new platforms coming in a near future. However, independently of the shape and capacity of the devices to come, mastering simplicity will remain a key feature of the mobile learning experience. Knowing to downplay some features to put forward others is definitely part of that art.
Shakespeare in Bits does a solid job at making those good old Shakespeare’s plays accessible, even for a reluctant reader/listener like myself. Now, I just have to wait for an Android version to fully enjoy the mobile side of the experience…