Thursday, May 10, 2012

What is digital storytelling?, Day #1--Digital Storytelling in the classroom

Digital storytelling is just as vital a topic as the oral tradition. And, it is just as important as traditional writing. However, it has a more modern spin on it. In fact, when I taught 11th grade English, I taught my students to use multiple media to write because writing is not limited to one medium--like paper. In one unit, we started by using the writing process to draft a polished Where I'm From Poem. However, we did not stop with just one medium; we applied the same writing process to creating a digital story/movie with the Where I'm From. By the end of the unit, students experience writing in two different media and had the opportunity to share their histories with a group larger than just their class. And, though the movie were not authentic digital stories, they enabled students to secure a foundation for when we did dive into digital storytelling.

The most difficult of digital storytelling is its definition and instilling it in students and educators. I like to call it the "PowerPoint effect." teachers and students are, by now, very familiar with PowerPoint and are used to its method of presentation. And, though PowerPoint is a very useful tool and is a great starting point in some of the younger grades, it is not the medium to use when digital storytelling because it yields itself to a lecture format. Digital storytelling is an emotional experience that an author shares in order to reach groups of people through a common bond. It is by no means a lecture or a presentation. Therefore, the "PowerPoint effect" is the first hurdle to jump over.

The second obstacle is understand the essence of digital storytelling and its goal--to create positive change. Think of digital storytelling as a personal narrative. People see, hear, and perceive the world in a variety of methods--digital storytelling allows authors to create a personal narrative in a way that elaborates on all of these senses. It is also built upon the principal of listening to learn. The medium allows people to listen deeply and share in another's personal journey/emotions. And, technology also allows for creativity.

Once students and educators can move beyond the "PowerPoint effect" and instill a framework built upon listening, sharing, creativity, and personal growth, digital storytelling can take off.

So, what are the requirements of a true digital story?

  • Well, a digital story must contain these six elements
  • It should be a foundation for sharing.
  • It should evoke a lesson or prompt action
  • It should involve multiple media--pictures, video, audio recording, music, transitions and more.
  • You should have your voice in it.
  • Keep it short--less than 3 minutes (and ideally 1-2 minutes)
  • Include some type of rhythm as if you were telling this story in person
  • Keep in mind the general rules of storytelling.

Stay tuned on the hows of information gathering and making a story. In the meantime, check out this article published in Educase on "the 7 things you should know about digital storytelling."

Techsoup also has a good overview on the digital storytelling process

Now, it's time to start brainstorming your topics--what is important to you?

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