Digital Storytelling

A Brief History of Hollywood by Alex Eylar

A Brief History of Hollywood by Alex Eylar

The increased presence of web tools and smart devices in student hands over the past decade has created a new and exciting layer to how we are able to see and understand the world around us.

3 takeaways from Alan Levine’s sharing of Digital Storytelling:

1. Pechaflickr: based on the Pecha Kucha presentation structure, storytellers are prompted by a series of images and required to narrate under a timed format. As the slide changes the next storyteller must pick up the narrative and continue to develop it in relation to the next image. The process is quite improvisational and requires focus and active listening as well as a willingness to just go with it.

I can see this being of used in my courses in several ways. I think students would really enjoy the spontaneous nature of the activity. Further, the image focused prompt (as opposed to text) would be a welcomed change in the senior English classroom where so much of the “content” is in written form. I’d love to see how this activity would translate in to video format. I think I’ll challenge my students to record their pieces as a screencast and then have them reflect on how they did.

2. 5 Card Flickr: a website that randomly generates five images from Flickr that the participants must use as a prompt for their story. The kicker is that the storytellers only select a single image per five card series. For example, from the first five card series the storytellers must select the image they’d like to have begin their story. Once they’ve selected this image they will receive a second five card series that they use to share the second portion of their story. They continue this process until they have selected five cards to complete their narrative.

I love this idea. I think it’s great because it allows for collaborative storytelling and creating where students bounce ideas and creativity off each other. I think it would be a big hit especially in preparation for the Pechaflickr activity above.

3. The Daily Create (bank of 1000 challenges): based on the notion that creating something everyday is good for us just as exercise or eating well is good for us. Participants are provided a new creative challenge each day. The challenge may be graphic, audio, video, or written in nature. Participants spend 15 to 20 minutes on the challenge and then upload it to flickr with the tag “daily create”. This in turn creates a bank of responses to the challenge, an opportunity to comment on others’ work, and a chance to check out how other people tackled the same task.

I think this activity is great as students are not graded on the artistic merit of what they do. They are graded on how they talk about and write about their thinking of how they responded to the challenge. This is a refreshing exercise as all too often students believe the emphasis of such activities is on the creative energy of the individual rather than our thinking behind it all.

Okay, I can’t help myself. A fourth takeaway…

4. I really enjoyed our class discussion on the overarching power of deconstructing an image or symbol and reconstructing in our own eyes. Bryan shared his understanding of critical thinking becoming more of how we are able to take our culture, hold it up, poke at it, and see it in new ways. I love this idea. It not only speaks to ownership and media literacy but also how the definition of literacy is changing in the face of the many devices and web tools at our fingertips.

Alec shared two videos that speak to this notion, both of which I will use in my practice as we discuss digital storytelling and the above assignments.

I think this is a new piece of the puzzle for me in the classroom, or at least a cleaner way of looking at it. The notion that taking pieces of our culture and making them in to something that makes sense to us is not just okay but somewhat a necessary 21st century skill. We possess the tools that allow us to regenerate, remaster, remix, and revoice and as Alec stated, this is the ultimate measure of critical thinking. This is critical media literacy.


5 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling

  1. Thanks much Trevor for sharing your ideas about using some of the web trinkets I showed. I’d be curious if there’s a way to know if knowing their improv was being recorded in a screencast how it might change their approach. Or…

    You may notice that when you generate a round of pechaflickr, the launcher page generates a URL that can launch another round with the same settings, e.g.

    Another round would produce a different series of images, so there could be some interesting comparisons how people frame a different story from likely different images.

    Anyhow, if you have anything to share about your experience trying the tools (even if they flop), I appreciate hearing about it.

    • Great feedback Alan.
      I considered the video impact on the improv aspect as well. I loved being able to look back at our blue jeans screencast and I was wondering how the #tiegrad’ers who participated in the pechaflckr activity would value seeing themselves in the moment of their storytelling. And I wondered if this would be a valuable reflection on their learning. I’ll wonder some more and see what I come up with!
      Thanks for the heads up on the option for using the launcher to generate rounds with the same settings.
      One of my students recently created a digital story on his About Me page of his blog instead of the traditional blah blah blah. It’s pretty cool. Have a look:
      My other classes and I have used this to prompt us attempting to tell his story via his photos. It’s gotten them excited to do something similar on their own About Me pages.
      I will definitely keep you in the know of how things develop in the coming months.
      Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: Making an Impact: a few ways #Edci569 has shaped my practice | esqedtech

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