Digital Story Telling


Digital storytelling is an exciting tool that is available to teachers as either an alternative way of presenting material, or as a different approach to assignments for their students.

I have been reading and investigating digital storytelling as a resource for teaching and am very excited about what I am learning. When I first started researching, most of what I found seemed geared toward elementary education – with kids animating books that they have read or creating their own stories to practice their writing skills. I struggled at first to see how this would translate to a college level information technology course. A little more investigation helped me to see that it could be a useful tool. I could use it to create content when I can’t find what I am looking for and I can have the students use the tools to demonstrate what they have learned. Below are a few of the things that I have learned or tried or plan to try with regards to digital storytelling.

Using Digital Storytelling to Enhance My Lectures

This is a tool that really got my creative juices flowing. I first got a chance to try digital story telling for an assignment in the Emerging Technologies class that I am tool. It required me to make a public service announcement about Digital Footprints and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out Animoto, one of the digital storytelling tools that I had discovered. The video that I created is below and it tied in quite nicely to my unit on Social Media.

Digital Footprint Video

Using Digital Storytelling in on Online Environment
I also had to create a note card story for my Foundations in Distance Learning course. The purpose was to look at critiques of distance learning and analyze them to come up with solutions. My story told the tale of two students – one who had a poor online learning experience and one who had a good one. It tells the story with the perspective of the teacher as the point of view, however my research into digital storytelling inspired me to rework it so that I can use it in my online course. It would give my online students a better understanding of what they need to do to be successful.The video that I created for my students is posted below and could be watched by students in an online course. It was created using Screencast-o-matic.

A Tale of Two Students Video

A Great Example of Digital Storytelling
I feel like there is endless potential for digital storytelling in the classroom if one has the time and energy to put into creating it. These videos are just my beginner’s attempt at using digital storytelling. I stumbled across a web page today that is a wonderful example of the full potential of digital storytelling. It is an interactive web page called the Parable of the Polygons and it teaches about society in a very entertaining and interactive way.

A Few of Tools that I Discovered and Ideas that I Have for Them

As I was researching for this blog I came across several websites that I or my students might be able to use as tools for digital story telling. The first is Animoto which allows you to create videos by inserting pictures and setting them to music. It is how I created my Digital Footprint video and could be used for many other topics as well. I haven’t come up with a project for my class that would use this video yet, but I plan to keep stewing on it because I think that it is something that my students would enjoy.

Another tool that I came across in my research was a sight called Jog the Web. It is a sight that lets you compile a series of web site links and add comments to them. The way that I anticipate using this site is not traditional storytelling, but one of the topics that we explore in my course is how to maintain a computer. I have the students create a maintenance manual that they can use to maintain the computer that they use for their college courses. Lately the results for this project have been very disappointing. I feel like Jog the Web may be a tool that I can use to help with this. I have two ideas for this site. The first is a rework of an assignment that we already do, which involves analyzing web sites to see if they would make a quality source for a research project. I could send the students to the websites through Jog the Web and use the comments section to give them instructions on what to do once they get there. The other idea is to have each student create a Jog the Web of the sources that they think they might use for their project. They can add comments for each page explaining why they think it is a valid source. This might make the assignment more manageable and easier to grade.

Another storytelling tool that I am considering right now is screencast-o-matic. It is a screen capture tool that I am already using to provide video feedback for my online students. What I envision is a more tech version of a digital story. Instead of typing up how to perform maintenance tasks, the students would create a video manual. They can demonstrate how to perform a task and explain to my why and how often to do it. I have encouraged my students to use this for some of the assignments in my class. I typically have a few students each semester who enjoy using it.

Powtoon is another free tool that can be used to create stories. I have not used it as a teacher, but I did use it as a student. I had to create a interview two adult learners and share the insights that I learned from them. I am including the video that I created. You can watch it with the sound turned down. The music that I used was composed by my son, and while I am a proud momma and personally enjoy it, even I get a little tired of it by the end of the video. There is certainly a learning curve on all of the different elements of telling a good digital story as this music on this video demonstrates.

More on Digital StoryTelling

Obviously, the tools listed above are just a small sampling of the tools that are available to you for digital story telling. I was going to try to list more, but the post is already getting long, so I will include a few links instead:

The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling – this article gives a scholarly look at how digital story telling is being used in the classroom. The link in the article no longer works, but the updated site that they refer to can be found here.

Digital Storytelling on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything contains everything that you might want to know about digital storytelling and more. This includes links to all kinds of tools and examples. A great resource to explore.

Happy Storytelling!


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