Using Technology to Tell Stories

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Archive for the 'Digital Storytelling' Category

Another Two SITE Sessions: Digital Storytelling

Posted by hickstro on 6th March 2008

A Digital Storytelling Implementation Experience with Early Childhood Students
Aslihan Kocaman-Karoglu, Middle East Technical University, Turkey

  • What is digital storytelling?
    • Story telling as an ancient tradition; digital storytelling integrates visual, interactive, and reiterative with constructive ideas
    • “combining the art of telling stories with some mixture of digital graphics, text, recorded audio narration, video…” B. Robin, 2006
  • Purpose of the Study
    • Outlines application of DS in pre-school and effects discovered on students’ learning (age 6)
    • Fall 2007, two pre-school classrooms with 28 students and 2 teachers total
  • Stories in pre-school
    • Great way of communication in classrooms
    • Teacher tells story, students “dial in” on the words
    • May use music and interaction
  • Story for this study
    • Story of the first president of the Turkish Republic
    • Used historical photo graphs, his recorded speech, songs he liked, etc.
  • Procedure
    • Pre-knowledge from students
    • Data gathered through classroom observation, teacher interviews, assessment of students’ drawings
    • Students drew a picture of the story and explained the drawings
  • Results
    • Students had a good understanding of the subject from the digital story
      • Although their drawings were simple, they were able to retell what they saw in the story
      • Only 3 of the 28 students couldn’t explain the main idea from the story
    • Teachers felt that the content was more understandable, were willing to create stories, agreed that it helped get across more content in a limited time, felt that they didn’t have time or technical knowledge

Implementation of Digital Storytelling in the Classroom by Teachers Trained in a Digital Storytelling Workshop
Bulent Dogan and Bernard Robin, University of Houston, USA

  • Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling Site
  • Used to teach content, empower students, teach writing, meet technology standards
  • Little structured research on digital storytelling
  • Purpose of study
    • To document teachers use of digital storytelling right after the workshop
    • If they used DS in the classroom, in what ways were they used? What purposes did teachers have?
    • If they were not used, why not?
  • Results
    • 78% were unaware of DS before the workshop
    • After the workshop, half did not use DS in their classrooms
      • Almost all the teachers said that they would want to use it,
        • For students
          • Video yearbook
          • History project
          • Description of field trips
          • Social and science investigation
        • For teachers
          • As alternative to power point
          • Used to present content
    • Impacts on students
      • Helped students understand presentation skills
      • Increase in motivation and 21st century skills
    • Impacts on teachers
      • Barriers: Time, access to hardware
      • Technical support was not as much a problem
    • Other results
      • Affected teaching style
      • Shared DS with other teachers and family members
      • Easy to use and make
      • “Director’s chair” effect
  • Resources

Posted in Digital Storytelling | No Comments »

Notes from Presentations about Digital Storytelling at SITE 2008

Posted by hickstro on 5th March 2008

This week, I am at SITE 2008, preparing for a presentation on Project WRITE tomorrow. Today, I will try to blog from some of the sessions (as wifi will allow). Here are three sessions on digital storytelling that I attended this morning. (I will also cross-post on my Digital Writing, Digital Teaching Blog):

An Instructional Design Approach for Integrating Digital Storytelling into the Classroom Using iMovie
Patrick Bell, University of Nevada, Reno

  • Project for Catholic Schools in San Francisco
    • Pre- and post-surveys for teacher indicated interests in storytelling
  • The effective digital story:
    • Uses only a few images, a few words, and fewer special effects to powrfully communicate meaning
    • Flows naturally and is limited to 2-3 minutes
    • Is supported with effective teacher training
    • Focuses on the writing and communication proess rather than just digital effects
    • Is solidly grounded in curriculum and expresses relevant content knowledge (Question: what counts as curriculum? Is this only for expository reports of content?)
  • Goals of the project
    • Implement teacher training on effective and efficient methods of integrating digital video editing technology into the classroom
    • Enable students to creat enhancements to traditional written/oral assignments using digital storytelling
  • Pedagogical concerns
    • Time contra inst on tech access
    • Availability of digital media equipment
    • Copyright issues
      • Technology, Education, and Harmonization Act (Note: See NCSU Library site on the TEACH act for more info)
        • No more than 5 images by a single artist of 10% of a collection of images may be used from an internet or copyrighted source, if attributed
  • Design, Development, and Implementation
    • Curriculum Overview
      • In proceedings paper
    • Teachers
      • 2 hour workshop using a whole group setting with guided practice and interactive group work
      • Printed materials with step-by-step guides
      • Learned on how to import, sequence, an editing music and images
      • Techniques on internet searchers, writing scripts, and storyboarding
      • Saving and rendering digital movies into condensed Quick Time format for presentation and evaluation
    • Student Project
      • Conducting valid research using the internet, books, and materials provided by the teachers (historical perspective on the Holocaust)
      • Writing a script and creating a storyboard of images and text
      • Went through same process of creating movies as teachers did
      • Learning how to cite sources and give proper attribution to collected images and music
      • Movies were presented in a whole group setting for peer review and teacher evaluation on content, flow, and impact of story
    • Evaluating the project
      • Images
        • Limit the amount of images that students collect to 10-15 images
        • Google search for large or extra large images only
        • Choice of images that can be scaled to correct size and aspect ration
        • Images should appear for at least 10 seconds
        • text should appear long enough to be read by audience
        • Images should appear alone long enough to convey impact and meaning
      • Narrative
        • Text narrative is often more efficient than audio narratives
        • Background noise can distract from the quality of the story
        • Use of audio equipment can take more time than can be practical
      • Effects
        • Simple fades and dissolves
        • Basic effect applications for motion
        • Use b/w or sepia tones for image color consistency
      • Music
        • Create own music
        • Get copyright free music
  • Conclusion
    • Effective stories captivate attention, use minimal special effects, and translate relevant content knowledge
    • They are a part of the curriculum and supported by effective teacher training
    • Enhance traditional forms of assessments

As I listened to this presentation, I was struck by the stark utilitarian vision of digital storytelling. In short, this seemed to be an enhanced version of writing the report that students have always been asked to do. By searching for images and creating, essentially, captions for them, then combining them into a very short movie, there is not much of the student represented here. When I think about digital storytelling, I think of the personal narrative or, at least, a much more personal take on an expository topic. This type of digital story would be easy to assess (10-15 images, appropriate captions with facts), which is not necessarily a good thing. The writing process is messy, and this is a sanitized version of digital storytelling.

“I would like to share my final with the class!” – Digital Storytelling for Education Major Students
Amy Eguchi, Bloomfield College (NJ)

  • Bloomfield College
    • Independent four-year institute of 2000 students, in NJ and near NYC
  • Introduction to Education
    • Gateway course for education majors, geared towards technology and is a hybrid course
    • Classroom management, multiple intelligences, lessong planning, inclusion, etc.
    • Self-reflection and life-long learning
  • Why digital storytelling?
    • Introduce new educational technology that students can use in their classroom
    • Introduce alternate way of self-expression
    • Create a wonderful addition to their ePortfolio
    • Make learning “fun”
  • Final assignment
    • “Your Own Journey of Learning” — create a movie that shows your learning this semester about issues in education
  • Research Questions
    • Will student choose digital storytelling as an option to express learning?
    • Whill it help them express themsleves fully?
    • Will it help them reflect on themselves more effectively?
    • Will the introdcution of DS not be helpul to our student, perhaps confusing them or making them feel less capable of themselves (not in the millennial generation, other side of the digital divide)?
  • Results
    • About half of the students choose to create digital stories and wanted to share them within and outside the class

This use of digital storytelling, too, was very functional, but did also show how teacher education students could compose their own stories (in particular, about learning how to teach). It was a different approach than the previous session, in that it discussed how students go through their own writing process to develop their own stories rather than reporting on other ideas. I am a bit concerned about the idea that this was done to be an “addition” to a portfolio or for “fun,” but I understand how that approach appeals to pre-service teachers. All in all, this idea could be a useful twist on the digital storytelling that I am asking students to do this year.

National Writing Project Teacher Consultants Explore Digital Storytelling
Paige Baggett, University of South Alabama

This was an intimate discussion with eight people, including Paige and Helen who have extensive experiences using digital storytelling. We wandered into discussions of the composing process, copyright, personal voice in narrative, uses of different digital storytelling tools, and other related ideas. Another link I forgot about: Educause’s 7 Things That You Should Know About Digital Storytelling.
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Posted in Copyright, Digital Storytelling, Professional Development, Resources | 1 Comment »

List o’ Links for Storytelling

Posted by hickstro on 21st November 2007

One of my ENG 315 students, Bradley Terrill, alerted me to this incredible list of digital storytelling resources. Given the success of the ABC Project with movie making, perhaps it is time to try some other tools for the next project!

Good to see everyone in NYC for NWP/NCTE. Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Digital Storytelling, Online Story Tools, Resources | 3 Comments »

South Park Creators, Alan Watts and Animation

Posted by dogtrax on 7th August 2007

Someone pointed me this way (actually, a few people have pointed me this way) to a site in which the creators of South Park have taken speeches and talks by Alan Watts and turned them into animation stories (without the swearing). The site is called Fresh Minds and features an Alan Watts theater.

This one movie I found very instructive — on the theme of Life as a Musical.


– Kevin

PS — Hey, I found the clip on YouTube:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Posted in Digital Storytelling, Homepage | No Comments »

Powerpoint as Storytelling Tool

Posted by dogtrax on 19th May 2007

(This is copied from my personal blog)

My students are in the midst of creating digital picture books around a scientific theme. We are using Powerpoint in order to move beyond the flat page and include animation, audio and even video. The audience for the books are first through fourth graders and we will publish in a variety of formats. The kids are just loving it and are fully engaged in their projects!

As usual, as they work, so do I, and I have been writing and creating my own picture book story about decomposition (sound familiar? This is also a term that my friend Paul Oh has proposed for digital writing — haha!) As I move along, I have been sharing my process with students so they can see how I work.

Here is a video version of my book and it loses all of its animation in this version:
Download: Posted by dogtrax at

And here is a link to the actual Powerpoint file (click on the picture):

Peace (in pictures),

Posted in Digital Storytelling, Homepage | No Comments »

Digital Storytelling with a Younger Crowd

Posted by hickstro on 15th May 2007

Before I go on to write my periodic post here, I have to say that I am really impressed with the ABC project as it unfolds and I plan to incorporate — as per Kevin and Bonnie’s suggestion — collaboration as a part of our digital storytelling workshop this summer. Hooray to you all for the great work!

As for me, I spent all day today and will likely spend part of the day tomorrow at my daughter’s preschool, helping all 32 students in the morning and afternoon sections compose a collective digital story in which they reflect on images from their first year in a Chinese immersion program. With the help of the teacher’s aide (who did a great job capturing images all year and then organizing them on a CD into folders for each child), I sat with 31 students today and helped them pick three images, rehearse what they wanted to say about those images, and then record their “story.” As you can imagine, this happened in the span of about five minutes per student and it gave me a renewed appreciation for what I have missed in the classroom over the past few years.

From this, I wanted to think about two aspects of the work: genre and pedagogy.

In terms of genre, I am wondering if what I am doing can — even in the broadest sense — still fall into the category of digital storytelling. The children are composing in the sense that they get to choose the pictures, although even that is not a “choice” in the sense that they were able to take pictures on their own or sort through a large library. Also, I wanted to have them arrange the pictures in the time line in iMovie, but realized that teaching some of them mouse skills to do that task would take way too long. Unlike the writing center model of minimalist tutoring from which I have been raised, I took the mouse and did all the work for them. Are they still storytellers? Did I take over too much of the process even given the logistical constraints?

Then, in terms of pedagogy, the oral composing that they did was largely prompted by me. I asked them to begin by stating their Chinese name and tell what was happening in the three pictures. By default, of course, iMovie plops them in a five seconds a piece. Whether they really wanted to or not, most felt constrained to talk in five second chunks. Even when I explained to one little boy that I could change the length of time for his picture, he continued to talk very quickly for fear that he wouldn’t get everything said! In this sense, I was constrained by time and technology, and I wonder if I took too much of the authorship away from them in the name of efficiency.

That said, I still enjoyed the process and I think that most of the kids would say that they feel the same.  This question of pedagogy — what and how much we do with and for students — becomes increasingly magnified when we apply technology to the equation. When a student is using a pencil, it is easy to ask them to write. Yet, for as many times as I try to ask, “Can I borrow your mouse?” when working with secondary or adult learners, today was not a day for that. I made the decision to press ahead quickly.

In so doing, I hope that I didn’t radically alter what I would have hoped the outcomes of this process would be: that students see themselves as beginning digital storytellers.

Posted in Digital Storytelling, Genre, Pedagogy | 3 Comments »

Memory Miner

Posted by hickstro on 4th April 2007

In listening to one of Wes Fryer’s podcasts, he talked about a great digital storytelling tool: Memory Miner. Talk about collaboration — this is a web-based, meta-data driven program that not only invites collaboration, but encourages it.

Any chance that once the ABC project is done we might try to do something with this? According to Wes:

The software is available now for Macintosh, is free for secondary teachers and students, and a Windows version is in development which will have an identical file format for cross-platform compatability.

At the very least, there is a 15-day free trial. What do you think?


Posted in Digital Storytelling, Resources | 1 Comment »

Reflections on TTT Webcast, 4/4/07

Posted by hickstro on 4th April 2007

First, thanks to Kevin, Bonnie, Gail, and Paul for hosting a great show tonight. I appreciated hearing the deep, thoughtful discussion about what it means to tell stories with technology.

Second, I want to continue reconsidering what we mean when we say “digital storytelling” and “using technology to tell stories.” I am both happy with the narrow definition of digital storytelling (as it keeps our attention focused on the task of telling a clear and concise story with audio and visuals in a movie making type of program) while at the same time disheartened by this narrowness (given examples like Bud’s story about his daughter or the ABC project). I hope that we continue to think about this and what it means in terms of the medium (be it audio only, video/images only, or some mix of audio and video) and the mode (narrative only? non-fiction such as a book talk or science report?).

Moreover, I hope that we keep reconsidering it in the context of professional development. Thus, my third point is to continue to ask, “What does this storytelling process look like in action?” What can we take from digital storytelling workshops that we have participated in and/or led in the past and translate into a broader (but not totally confusing or all-encompassing) vision of the work? I liked Kevin’s idea about collaboration and Bonnie’s point about extending the relationships beyond the initial workshop. I have to think about those ideas some more.

Again, great show. I had a colleague from RCWP who was listening in and we were carrying on our own simultaneous private chat about the discussions, both on the show and in the chat. She was very impressed with the level of discourse about this topic, as was I. Thanks again and I look forward to continuing the conversation here on the blog.


Posted in Digital Storytelling, Professional Development | 4 Comments »

Educause’s 7 Things: Digital Storytelling

Posted by hickstro on 4th April 2007

Perhaps you all have seen this already, but if you haven’t check it out. I find that Educause’s “7 Things You Should Know About Series” provides excellent resources for PD and to share with administrators when you want to do something new with technology.

Now they have one for digital storytelling.



Posted in Digital Storytelling, Professional Development, Resources | 2 Comments »

Wednesday night at TTT

Posted by dogtrax on 3rd April 2007

Bonnie and I are co-hosting this week’s Teachers Teaching Teachers program at EdTech Talk tomorrow night (Wednesday, 4/4) and we invite you to venture over to the Skypecast/chatroom. Here is the blurb about our show:

Teachers Teaching Teachers: Using Technology to Tell Stories

The concept of digital storytelling has been around for some time as people began to envision the impact that the visual and oral elements could have on the traditional writing process. Video documentaries, radio reflections and other experiments have blossomed with the Web 2.0 world. There are many publishing sources and many means of expression. But what does it all mean? How can the interactive web be tapped into to bring storytelling and composition to an even deeper level of meaning for the writer and for the audience?

Join guest host Kevin Hodgson, who is the technology liaison of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, this week on Teachers Teaching Teachers as he seeks to explore some of these questions. Kevin is a sixth grade teacher who has students create digital picture books (last year’s theme — math, and this year’s theme — science) and stop-motion claymation projects (in which his sixth graders collaborate with second graders). He has been exploring the intersection of the world of digital storytelling and the Web 2.0 frontier in recent months with NWP Colleague Bonnie Kaplan through a community Weblog and a new collaborative ABC movie project that features more than a dozen teachers throughout the country who are contributing video segments to a larger collaborative project that uses online tools to plan, produce and distribute a digital story.

The program will try to showcase some different aspects of storytelling and technology, brainstorm some ways that people can get started, and consider what the future holds for telling stories in a digital environment.

Our guests will include Tonya Witherspoon, who has run a claymation movie camp for kids; Gail Desler, who is part of the ABC Movie Project and a deep thinker on the pedagogy underlying the use of technology in the classroom; and others.

Please join us for the conversation this Wednesday evening on (6pm PDT / 9pm EDT / 1am GMT (global times).



Posted in ABC Movie Project, Digital Storytelling, Homepage | No Comments »