Digital Storytelling

20,000 Year Old Cave Painting: Hyena

Photo Credit: 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings: Hyena

Storytelling is a unique and universal human need. Our stories help us make sense of our world, help us identify as members of a group and help us navigate the stages of our physical and emotional lives. Films today, one could argue, address the same primal needs as cave drawings did thousands of years ago.

Our materials for this week focus on why and how Web 2.0 storytelling in particular can enrich and support our students’ learning. In Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre, Alexander and Levine argue that user-generated content as well as the ability to offer multilinear, hypertextual content are distinguishing hallmarks of Web 2.0 storytelling. Be sure to read Bryan Alexander’s and Alan Levine’s article while signed into Diigo as I’ve saved it to our group. Feel free to contribute to the discussion that has already started in that venue by responding to questions and comments, leaving your own comments or adding highlights for our group.

In light of the kinds of storytelling venues we explore this week, what kinds of storytelling have you used with your students and why and how have you used them?


15 Responses to “Digital Storytelling”

  1. loisramirez Says:

    The article in edutopia called Tech Tales: Marco Torres on Empowering Students Through Multimedia talks about a california teacher. Marco Torres encouraged his students to use media based technology for their projects. His students usually use a camera for their project. He came up with a system called the 4 P’s (Planning, Production, Presentation, (P)Assessment) Each stage allows the student to have a set goal in mind for their project, from planning and research to self-evaluation. In one of his classes he had a student that researched the effects of sweatshops in the international economy, she decide to share her class project in the web and gained the attention of international organizations. This is an example of the effect that Web 2.0 storytelling has in the teaching and learning process. Knowledge transcends the walls of a classroom and finds its way to people or groups that are interested in these topics; creating a community of learning and collaborators and spreading a message with much more effectiveness. I think more educators should start implementing Torre’s method, since it opens up a discussion beyond the classroom. I have not used story telling in my classroom in this manner, but I do find it to be a very useful tool. I have created my own way of storytelling by using media (video) and current events/characters to explain grammar. It was effective since the students could relate to the characters in my lesson plan, and the grammar portion was less abstract for them. The beautiful thing about Web 2.0 storytelling is the variety and accessibility of tools that are available to us. How we use these tool? well that is up to us, but I do think it is important and almost necessary to share our creations/innovations with others in order to keep the story rolling.

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Lois, thanks for sharing this article. It looks very interesting. It reminds me of the geography girl and her father we talked at the end of last session. In Alexander and Levine’s article, there are so many examples of digital story-telling. I find it particularly interesting that the project develops – or makes sense- when there is a collaborator. This girl’s act of sharing does not mean much unless she has many commentators and collaborators. It is almost as if they have created their own community of practice.

      • rosariopollicino Says:

        HI Lois,

        Thank you very much for your summary it looks very interesting to me because I believe we could all use it as a kind of plan for our research project I mean related to our studies in general. I think we all have been using a kind of this bullet points already but maybe without realizing it. Have you got any other useful points to mention to us but above all how to realize it in practical or if I got it right it’s a theoretical part which can be applied to any different environment with different tool?

        • loisramirez Says:

          I believe the theoretical part can be applied to other tools. The main idea is that the interest that we instigate to our students, needs to leave the classroom and ideally start reaching other people. All we need to do is plant the seed and hope for it to grow and expand.

  2. edadedebas Says:

    The article Why Sharing Stories Brings People Together by Joshua Gowin talks about a recent scientific study done the neurological activity in the brain and story-telling/story-listening. Joshua Gowin is a Ph.D. candidate of behavioral neuroscience at University of Texas. The experiment he describes in the article is conducted by a group of scientists at Princeton. In the experiment, a woman was recorded telling a story in English and Russian. At the same time, her brain activity was monitored as she was telling the stories. Her brain was very active as she was telling the stories. Later on, a group of English speakers listened to the stories and their brains responded very positively and actively. The story-teller’s and listeners’ brain functions showed similarities (But the same similarity did not happen when they listened to her speaking in Russian). The story-teller was able to build an empathy and share her thoughts with the others. Gowin concludes that the activity of story-telling provides an active brain and enables the emotional connection between people. Moreover, story-stealing could be considered as a form of positive bonding since the listeners might have internalized the story and built up a strong empathy with the story-teller.

    I think the experiment Gowin talks about is very important and could be assigned as a suggested reading for a literature class. He discusses the significance of story-telling and how it keeps us together. Moreover, Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine’s article Web 2.0 Story-telling is very interesting since they show the different ways in which people can share their stories and thus their thoughts. Out of the many examples of digital story-telling that they list, I find Flickr Visual Story-telling and Dreaming Methods particularly interesting. But all examples emphasized one thing: a story does not make sense until it is shared by others and until other listeners comment and collaborate on the story-telling activity. It is through this collaboration that we understand each other and we are able to build empathy.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Hi Eda,

      Thank you very much for your very interesting synopsis it really recalls my individual reading I have posted on here too and if you have five minutes go and have a look. the reason why invite you to do this is because both reading talks about the will, or sometimes the need according the case, of sharing stories that sometimes become or are extracted from our own stories of life.
      In this era and in particular in this class where we are analyzing deeply the learning process do we really think that the will of sharing is very well developed?
      Yes we do have the social networks we did not have before that’s very true however, I do not believe we have a real will in sharing to increase our knowledge among all people around he world among people we have actually have never seen. This is a process which i believe is starting now and for this reason the story telling process is strictly linked to it. More we will be keen in sharing more the digital story telling will expand and we could all consider it as another alternative source of sharing knowledge and then learn from.

      What do you think?

    • loisramirez Says:

      This is such a great study, the fact that it was done in a bilingual fashion is also very interesting. Sometimes we engage in practices such as story telling, without really noticing the “scientifical” processes behind them. I found it very interesting that the listeners had an attachment to the reader. This makes me go back to the bed-time stories when we were kids, and really think about how truly important they were for our development. I never thought of storytelling in such a way, until I read this article and began to make connections to my personal experience and also teaching experience. As instructors it is important (as I mention in my post) to reach to our students in order to create a sense of curiosity in them. I believe that the humanity of a teacher is what makes us want to learn more about certain things and those people serve as inspiration later on in our lives.

  3. soledadre Says:

    Open Discussion on Web 2.0 Storytelling by Bryan Alexander and Alan Levin is a wiki page created in 2008. It was conceived together with the article Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre (the one we have also read for this week). It adds more resources and creates a common space for discussion and sharing. How does it work? This wiki is structured under four categories or open questions where people can participate by sharing their points of view, experiences or examples: 1. What is Web 2.0 storytelling?; 2. Is there really such a thing (web 2.0 storytelling)? Should we call it something else?; 3. Where are they? Share some examples!; 4. How does Web 2.0 storytelling work within teaching and learning? What are the implications for pedagogy, curriculum, and campus life?
    In those sections several useful tips, examples and links are given. However, the wiki is not up-to-date. We can see a workshop option in the menu but without a date, although I think that is from 2009. In the discussion section I can also see 2009 as the latest date. Therefore, it probably was a great idea, created for a specific-moment (the publication of the article), but the author’s hypothetical wish of going on in time did not work.
    Despite this fact, the truth is that here we are, reading their article and exploring their wiki, so it must be worthy although no so popular as their authors might have aimed. In my opinion, this wiki can be a very easy access place for finding resources (you can specifically look at the category “tools”) and ideas, and for sharing with others our own ideas. I think this kind of projects can show us how easy can be to share, to promote discussion, to build a community of learning where questions and answers are exchanged. We can build a “professional” wiki with people from our own area of interest but we can also create one with our students: the will feel as real experts or journalists, or whatever role they want to take over, of this new information era.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Hi Sole,

      the wiki project is indeed a great tool to share a goal in a community of practice. We all have goal set, common ones and we contribute towards it. A clear example is also the wiki project we are developing (little by little in our project. However I would like to underline two very important thing as the other important role we all have in this university I mean as language instructor. Whereas the wiki project in our class give us the opportunity for sure to expand knowledge and also to be evaluated I am not sure whether this could be used as a fair way to evaluate our students effort or results.
      Imagine some students can’t get the same result (by adding the same concepts that a class mate already did) just for the matter of time we could not really judge on that. If you think this is the reason why we all have a different and clarified topic on our wiki project so according to all our personal work we can decide when develop it or not.

      this limit could have been the same reason why this wiki project you are talking about in your synopsis has not been developed that much after its creation. Obviously there can be a greater range of other reasons which can affect that (I am not going to consider them now) but this could definitely be one of those to be considered in our context.

      Do not get me wrong I like the wiki project very much it is a great collaborative tool to be used and maybe implemented and promoted however, I think it doesn’t suit our reality of language course. What do you think, would you find a practical way of using it?

      • soledadre Says:

        I think a wiki project can be really interesting even in language teaching. However, it is true that students may need some level of proficiency to develop it. I personally prefer quality rather quantity so I would ask my students for a work where I can see they have really gotten involved, with not a strict deadline. With low level students you can ask them to do research about some cultural aspects. For instance, Spain, they could show its culture by showing pictures of the typical food or the most important monuments, just having to write some sentences; similarly, they could post links to music or trailers of films as another part of the Spanish culture. In this way, we would have a very visual wiki with very direct information written by low-level students (but they had been reading, listening, writing… being exposed to the target language).
        At higher levels the thing can change, we can use the very same model but in this case we can ask them for doing deeper research, maybe even comparing cultures and express their own opinions and conclusions.
        In any case, I think that, as always, the key point is to be able to adapt the tools at hand to our students’ proficiency.

  4. rosariopollicino Says:

    Heart and Voice: A Digital Storytelling Journey

    This article talks about the story of an English Professor who had started a writing assignment of creating stories. She realized immediately after that through the story writing students have started to express weakness they would have never expressed otherwise in the real life. So she thought this was a very good assignment and after finding out how a story can become richer if it’s a digital story implementing it with soundtrack, photos effect she decided to change the assignment in creating a digital story telling.

    By doing so the professor liberally accepted to change her role from the leader of the learning process (as an English professor) to the student. She was not as confident as her students were in electronic tool and editing software and all the other tools necessary involved in the creation of a story telling. However, through this experience she found out that her students or for sure those few who directly helped her, were very patient with her as a student and encouraged her in learning and master those tools. I was surprised myself when these student very young 9th grade were letting her making mistakes and then redirecting her effort without ever take the mouse off of the teacher hands. If we think about it , it seems like these students were already formed as educators somehow don’t you think so?

    However the story goes on into a detail because she decides to set the electronic story telling assignment without due date and without particularly boundaries as she “could not pretend to be in charge”. The result was amazing because among all the students, who actually did a great work, one of them Tedd, who was extremely shy, and never talk to her English professor spoke with her for the first time through his story telling. This has been the only case where Tedd spoke to his English professor and the only sad thing is that his English professor did not get the chance to talk with him to say what a good job he did also in terms of the assignment goal. The story telling does indeed require the semantic connection of sentences with photos and also, somehow, with soundtrack and despite of his personality Ted’s was excellent.
    Great lesson from the educator point of view, we never know what a student can do until we ask to do it. We simply can’t assume with students. Don’t you think so? have you ever had an experience such as this one?

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Rosario,

      Thank you for sharing the summary. I really found the article very interesting. I think it is really important for an instructor to remember the days when you are a student. I try to do this sometimes and my lesson plans and strategies suddenly change. What I find most motivating about teaching is that I can still think in both ways: as a student and as an instructor. I also think that it is not surprising to see the changes in Tedd. I have had the same situation happen with my shy students. What we need to do is to detect them, understand their needs and adjust the teaching strategy according to their needs and learning.

      • rosariopollicino Says:

        Hi Eda,

        I agree it was not difficult to predict the change in Tedd sometimes it is us as educator who need to adjust our way of teaching even if we think it’s good, modern, approved by the modern linguists and we feel really comfortable with. I believe that this story about it’s not only about story telling but first of all means to pay attention to your students see what kind of person they are and it’s us who have to teach them their way let’s not forget it!

  5. marineuconn Says:

    David is a student in sociology. He is asked to do a project on something specific about himself or his family. He chooses to make a digital story about his passion: blues guitar. He incorporates many interactive multimedia elements — pictures, scanned images, and recordings of him playing with his band — while he talks about his passion for music. David feels motivated to do the project and the presentation in class is a hit. Why? 7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling reminds us that a growing majority of US teens already use various tools to create digital media. A digital story combines “a narrative and digital content to create a short movie” and has many benefits, among them the ability of developing a discerning eye for online resources. Digital stories can also be kept in e-portfolios and used for academic or professional carreers, or personal records. As Sylvia Tolisano says in her free online book called Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators specially written for educators, storytelling is a (ancient) form of teaching wisdom and knowledge that “were passsed down from elders to children.” Nowadays, technology has allowed us to do it on a much larger scale.

    I really enjoyed that these articles talk about something that has become part of our everyday life thanks to the recent developments in technology and the enthusiasm it caused among people. Despite the value of digital storytelling, I wonder if teachers, professors, and students are ready to welcome entire digital works instead of live presentations in front of the class. Yet is has many benefits such as being easily shared and replayed. I also wanted to mention that Sylvia Tolisano explains in details how to “make” a digital story in her free online free online book.

    • soledadre Says:

      Hello Marine, I guess that many old-school teachers are not ready for those digital works. In the 21st century educational field, we are always listening about life-long learning and continuing education. We need to make this theory a must and help teachers lose their fear to all these new possibilities. They are afraid because they do not know or master the tools, they feel lost because they may be not the expert, students are. However, this last “negative” point could be a very positive one, we are constantly asking our students to participate, to get involved, wouldn’t they really feel motivated if they are seen as experts? And if students are still not ready to those digital methods, then, the teacher, again, become an essential intermediary for developing this new knowledge. Then, once again, the training of teachers becomes a key factor. I think continuing training is essential because new-coming teachers tend to copy what the “experts” (those that are working for years) in schools and high-schools are doing since they do not want to do something wrong. Training will open the eyes of both, expert and new teachers.

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