Digital Storytelling

This week we’ll take a look at the many ways—the 50+ ways, according to Alan Levin—we and our students can tell a story using Web 2.0 media. Our materials for this week focus on why and how Web 2.0 storytelling in particular can enrich and support our students’ learning. Be sure to read these articles while signed into Diigo as I’ve saved them to our group. Feel free to contribute to the discussion in that venue by responding to questions, leaving comments or highlighting for the group. We will spend time on Monday exploring those materials within Diigo. For Friday’s Elluminate session we can break into groups to evaluate some digital stories using Bloom’s revised taxonomy.

If you were to evaluate the above video as well as this mock Hamlet Facebook page (click on the picture to enlarge it) using Bloom’s revised taxonomy, which cognitive levels would they address? Would you consider these evidence of learning? In what ways do they reflect Web 2.0 storytelling as described in Bryan Alexander’s and Alan Levine’s article?

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16 Responses to “Digital Storytelling”

  1. kemen528 Says:

    I would like to say that I really enjoyed the brief Hamlet video as well as the facebook page. I thought that they were quite humorous. In fact, I think that the fact that they are humorous caught my attention and made me view Hamlet in a different way, which I think would have the same effect on the modern day student. I believe that weaving humor into teaching is extremely important because it not only aids in creating a comforatable learning and teaching environment, but it also aids in the students’ acquisition of the material that they are ingesting. (Of course, I must mention that the humor must be apropriate as in the case of the video and the facebook page).

    In terms of Bloom’s taxonomy, and I must say that I prefer Lorin Anderson’s terms over Bloom’s, I think that both Web 2.0 devices are using humor and relatable tools (the majority of students use facebook and youtube) to help with the “Remembering/Knowledge” portion of the pyramid. There is no doubt that students will more likely remember the basic plot to Hamlet through these humorous/modern tools than just reading the book or even going on Sparknotes. I believe that it also aids in the comprehension of the story since Shakespeare’s language can get quite dense and cryptic. In terms of application, students can use these tools that basically provide the skeleton of the story to better interpret the actual Hamlet story laced with confusing Shakespearian language. They can definitely also Analyze by comparing and contrasting how these tools tell the story in comparison to the actual play. I also think that it can help in their evaluation of how well they retained the story and understood it because it aids them in doing so. Finally, these tools can definitely inspire them to create their own facebook pages and videos. All in all, even though these two web 2.0 tools may look simplistic, they really do touch all of Bloom’s taxonomy tiers, which means that when utilized these tools can definitely lead to evidence of learning.

    Based on the Alexander and Levine article, these tools reflect Web 2.0 storytelling because they can definitely establish connections between teachers and students, students and students, and the classroom and the rest of the world that views the video and the facebook page. All parties involved can discuss Hamlet using a different forum than a traditional classroom and they can exchange knowledge of the play with a wider audience than just the people in the classroom.

    • chenwenh Says:

      I guess Kemen did point out one very important factor of effective teaching: humor. It is difficult to weave humor into our teaching because it needs to show relevance to the materials. Yet, I would say, as a graduate student, I particularly appreciate professors who not just deliver the course content but also add humor to flavor hard materials. One best example is a psychology professor of UConn, David Miller, whom I know from my last semester’s teaching methodology course. He incorporates technology with his teaching of general psychology, and his teaching is so effective that he not just successfully engages students with his course content, but he also retains student enrollment and enhances learning outcome. His choice of either videos or pictures is definitely relevant to his teaching, and another significant feature in his use of technology is humor. His class is so much loved by students that even it begins at 8 a.m., the average attendance rate reaches over 90%. (And it is a class of more than 250 students!)

      Of course, Sarah’s worry about students understanding of literature being superficial is not without merit. Therefore, like what Sarah said, we as instructors must always bear in mind that those 50+ ways of telling a story are helpful because they serve as “a good supplementary tool” of engaging students with course materials. Yet, I would also like to give more credit to digital story telling because it is a tool that we use to serve our purpose. By itself, it never achieves any learning goals. The effectiveness of this teaching tool depends on how we design its use as an assessment tool and what objective we would like our students to achieve. I guess my point here is very much like Lay’s comment on what we choose to assess. Such a Facebook page or a one-minute video does not necessarily or thoroughly reflect students’ knowledge, but I believe to create those two stories, students must also be able to comprehend the plot, apply their understanding to the scheme of their project, and analyze the relations between characters.

      Therefore, if we are to evaluate the two digital story telling projects, we should first make sure we know what our lesson objectives are. For the Hamlet video, if our goal is students can achieve skills of level 1 through level 5 according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, I think its creators did submit a good project, despite its weaknesses in clarity. Also, I would suggest that we could supplement this project with other assignments, such as a workshop on the effectiveness of digital story telling. In this in-class workshop, we can discuss each video projects and analyze their strengths and weaknesses and conclude with some guidelines for students about how to successfully summarize their understanding of their reading and then apply it to the project delivery. Thus by this workshop, students have the chance to criticize and evaluate their own works; they get to practice the skills at Level 6 of Bloom’s Taxonomy. As for the mock Facebook page, I would say it also qualifies as a good product if our goal is to assess students skills from Level 1 to Level 5. However, it is also our responsibility to make students realize they need to add more content to the page if they are to demonstrate their knowledge and comprehension of this play and to prove their ability to summarize, compare and contrast while applying their understanding to creating this page. Thus, we can ask them to revise this Facebook page, like what we often ask students to do when writing papers. A chance of self-critique and revision is given if we are to prepare the remedy for the downside of digital story telling.

      Furthermore, (I am afraid I already said too much…) I just want to go along with what Celeste said about Bloom’s Taxonomy. Yes, it is definitely very helpful to keep at hand all the times Bloom’s taxonomy, as well as the revised one, when designing our lesson plans and teaching goals.

  2. sondrus Says:

    I found the video hard to follow. It moved too fast and had too much material in it. I think the use of all the scenes hampered it, or the sixty second time limit. A clearer goal might be needed in its production. It seems covering all the main points of action was part of the goal. One of our articles mentioned the necessity for keeping audio and visual concise and engaging. This might have been concise enough, but I couldn’t fully engage due to its fast pace.
    In one of the Digital Storytelling videos from the collage the students mentioned how technology allows student to move up to the teacher’s level and that teachers are uneasy with this. Certainly there is a shift of power, even in the most simple example of a teacher needing help to run the technology in the classroom with students’ help.

    • celeste2010 Says:

      I agree with you, Suzanne. The video was really hard to follow and I think it was the time limit in order to promote the material what caused the rush. Although the idea is quite interesting and I’d like to use any of the digital storytelling tools in my classes. They really are connected to this “visual era” we live in and of course that would allow us to engage students more effectively.
      I particularly enjoy creating a digital picture & dialogue story using bubblr in our last class with Barbara. I can’t say it took too long to do it although, as you could see when I presented it, it was pretty simple. And that I think that’s a plus nowadays and taking into account our students have to struggle with time issues -given the fact that they have many classes and sometimes language is taken as a requirement class.

      • celeste2010 Says:

        Also… it’s a shift of power in some way but I think it’s not a threatening one for us educators since -regarding of your personality of course- it might be encouraging for us to develop new skills and learn jointly with them too.

      • kemen528 Says:

        Yes, I agree with you Suzanne and Celeste, but didn’t you find that it served as some type of reinforcement? If you read Hamlet before hand, it might help a little bit. I understand that it goes really fast, but I really think that it may help in a high school English class or a college freshman English class. I think that it appeals to today’s humor in our youth. I will even go further and say that it might help them remember basic character descriptions for a pop quiz or some other evaluation tool. I am not saying that it is the best video to understand Hamlet, but it certainly has some value.

  3. Blanca Says:

    I agree with sondrus that the video is really hard to follow. Imagine you do not know the plot, would you really know what Hamlet is about with this video? I do not think so. However, it is true that it covers the main actions in the story, although the quality of sound and the (in)visibility of the subtitles lessens its applicability to, let’s say, a literature course. In my opinion, all the aspects of Bloom’s taxonomy that kemen528 says it covers, would be attained in a higher degree if the video lasted 1 more minute.
    Regarding the Facebook group, I consider it much more engaging and motivating. Following Bloom’s taxonomy, this tool helps students remember the story because it attracts them: they can understand each character by his/her personality, thanks to their comments in the group, having a different insight into the play. They can apply those new insights to the analysis of the book. Students can evaluate the degree of “veracity” those comments have: “according to what you know about the play, would Ophelia really say this or that?” And they could even assume a character’s personality and create their own comments and continue the story.
    In connection to Alexander and Levine’s article, these two examples reflect perfectly their definition of “Web 2.0 storytelling”: obviously they both tell a story, but in the form of microcontent (a video and, more evidently, short entries in a Facebook group), and they can be “touched by multiple people, whether in the content creation or via associated comments or discussion areas”.
    To end this comment, I would like to point out that, for me, the most valuable asset of these two Hamlet examples is the engaging and motivating component. As Paul McCloskey states in his article “the pedagogical value of podcasts depends almost entirely on student motivation and the learning “context” of the application”. These examples would really motivate students. We would only be missing the appropriate context…

    • Lay Says:

      I agree with what Blanca observes. However, I must point out several things. Yes, I must admit – like Kemen, Suzanne and Blanca pointed out – that the video is too fast to grasp the information. However, I differ from Blanca that we are “missing the appropriate context”. These students did not create their pieces out of nowhere.

      Both the video and the facebook page are great examples of students that had to read the play, and REMEMBER what was it all about. Then, they must have payed attention to the important parts and UNDERSTAND why they were important. Then they had to create the story by APPLYING what they had just learned and ANALYZING what was worth keeping from the story. After their careful EVALUATION of the scenes, they CREATED their video/webpage. I believe this was indeed a great exercise that included every aspect of the Revised Bloom taxonomy as well as some of the tools presented and explained in Bryan Alexander’s and Alan Levine’s article.

      Therefore, they context must have been stated in class and by the professor. Of course, as outsiders, we may have missed that point; but I do not believe that the students involved in the project failed to grasp the importance of Hamlet’s play in his and our time. That, I feel, transpire from how they chose the important scenes from the original play and translated them in their own words and, why not, their own time, language and webworld. And maybe, just maybe, this is where we get lost because we are lost in their translation.

      This is where the evaluation of the teacher must be a careful one. What are we evaluating: their analysis of the play, their creativity, their understanding, or the fact that they are saying the things how we expect them to say them? If it is the last option, it does not matter if we evaluate their work on old paper and ink format or video, we would be too close-minded.

      • sarahmelvine Says:

        After reading Lay’s post I can see that there were some parts of Blooms Taxonomy that I did not consider in the creation of this video. Perhaps it does ask the students to decide what is really elemental about the play in cutting it down to a bare 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don’t know what kind of analyzing is taking place in this exercise; is it a discussion and interpretation of the text, looking at important sentences, double meanings, plays on words (as is so important in Shakespeare) or are they simply analyzing what action is vital to the plot? Although I think this is an interesting project, it ought to be done in conjunction with an “old paper and ink” format. I still think that writing is so important in developing one’s ability to be critical and formulate concrete, sound, arguments. There is always a place for innovative approaches, but I am still not convinced exactly why expository essays are obsolete.

      • christopherlaine Says:

        I agree with Sarah. The best way to engage a subject whose key aspect is a complex use of language is to write about it. There’s no way to tell by watching this video that the student actually read the text itself, that is to say, engaged in a discourse with it. Identifying the key events in the plot is the most basic level of comprehension. I know we aren’t supposed to assume the students know what they’re supposed to know, but this is a skill which is taught from about the 3rd grade on. If we linger at this basic level, how will we ever progress up the taxonomy?

  4. celeste2010 Says:

    Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy article is an excellent source for understanding the process of acquisition of intellectual skills and behavior that are important to learning. Personally, I was really caught by this way of presenting a categorization of the learning process which I believe is a proper one. In every specific class there are different goals but I think that trying to reach the peak of the pyramid should always be the most important one. Professional excellence and quality learning are probably the most encouraging and challenging goals for an educator in order to give our students the best learning experience ever.

    (I’m sorry if this sounds a little fancy but this has been my personal commitment to education since the very beginning -many years ago ;)- and I feel good to be able to read an interesting resource like this.
    I also hope you can see my comments in Diigo, I tried to share them to our group but not sure if I did it actually :(. Your feedback on this would be appreciated)

    • Barbara Says:

      I definitely can see that you are saving sites you find to our group and can see your highlights and annotations on Bloom’s Taxonomy article, Celeste!

      I agree with you, Bloom’s revised taxonomy is very helpful in creating scaffolded learning experiences and in documenting evidence of various kinds of student understandings.

  5. sarahmelvine Says:

    Overall, I’m still not sure how to position myself regarding Hamlet video and Facebook page. The stodgy, old English teacher in me was initially shocked that somebody would want to condense the wit and nuance of Hamlet into a quickly consumed, commercial length video. However, I will relent and say that in fact due to its brevity and fast pace, students might actually have to familiarize themselves with the text before watching it, and thus, the video is asking them to recall the plot and think on their feet. On the other hand, I don’t believe that being asked to memorize one or two facts about each act in Hamlet is asking students to do very serious thinking about the text. As in Bloom’s Taxonomy “remembering” is at the bottom of the intellectual pyramid, it is only a starting point, not a goal of learning. I’m not sure whether this video was created by a student or educator, but I have some trepidation whether a creative project of this sort would reflect a real engagement with the text. A student could read a very basic outline of the play and be able to make a humorous 60 second video and still not be able to answer critical questions about the text. So, digital storytelling is a good supplementary tool, but perhaps it is not enough of a tool in itself to reach the greater class goals.

    The Facebook page does seem to meet the goals of Alexander and Levine in that students use it to collaborate to build a kind of thread, or narrative, that is regulated as a group and gains meaning collectively. Also, it is significant that the Facebook narrative will gain a life outside of the classroom, as with a blog or other Web 2.0 tools, and in that sense is more dynamic. This Facebook page however seems a bit superficial and I think it would need some real guidelines to accomplish much outside of being entertaining. It doesn’t seem to ask people to do much evaluating or analyzing, which I think should probably be a foundational goal before “creativity.”

  6. Digital Storytelling » Blog Archive » Hamlet in 60 Seconds Says:

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  7. inasayyoub Says:

    My first encounter with digital story telling was when I was introduced to the Windows Movie maker, and all I thought of it that it was a great tool to transform boring long reading text into something interesting students would like to watch. So I was the one preparing them for class after reading the passage and searching for the right pictures and recording my voice and supplementing them with some captions to help create better understanding for the material. As I used it more than once , some of my students that have good skills using computers asked me how I created them and then I was surprised to know that they wanted to be the creator of our next digital story. I perceived this to be good way for learning the language through fun, but obviously after reading the materials here it seems to hold more than that.
    Reflecting on what my students did with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind, reveals a process of thinking skills development. From reading the text and understanding to select the pictures representing the meaning, analyzing the context and deciding what are the important parts to be commented on and creating their comments and evaluating the whole thing. This, fun activity as I saw it, didn’t only helping learning the language but also in developing the needed thinking skills that they need not only to learn other subjects , but also to help in issues that go beyond the classroom sphere.
    As the EDUCAUSE article mentions the great value it adds to learning to create a memorable experience that doesn’t disappear with the end of the course. This is made true through the sense of individuality such tools promote through using students’ own words and voices to express themselves as the article mentions.
    When students become the producers of content for subjects they learn, it makes them make sense of everything they learn and use it meaningfully in another form.
    The question would be then if such tools are going to replace all of our traditional ways of telling and writing stories, and whether this would bring such academic skills of students as writing down with its focus on a product that doesn’t emphasis being a good writer at all. That leads me to say that designing such projects for certain subjects must be controlled with a specific criteria in terms of the final product and how it is going to be assessed!


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