Tidbits in Tech: Integration in Education/Digital Storytelling in the Classroom
Introducing Digital Storytelling
According to Tom Banaszewski, an educator and multimedia author, “The project confirmed my belief that everyone has a story about a place that is important to her or him, and that by using multimedia to develop and share those stories; we strengthen our understanding of our communities.” Digital storytelling is a useful tool that can be implemented into any classroom and used for any number of subjects and topics. As technology is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society, children are becoming familiar with it at a younger and younger age. Teachers may not know how to keep their generation of students interested in certain topics. Digital Storytelling is just one technological option for doing so. Students and teachers will both benefit from creating and using digital stories.
What is Digital Storytelling?
Digital storytelling is a modern way to share ideas, thoughts, and stories. It is a curriculum that uses technology with communication, literacy skills, and language arts. It includes the use of technological devices such as the computer and Internet to morphs words with narration. Digital stories can include mixtures of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and music. Educational stories tend to last between two and ten minutes. Most digital stories focus on one specific topic and should be told from the first person point-of-view. Digital stories can be implemented into a number of subject areas such as math, art, language arts, and music.
There are said to be seven elements of a digital story. You may use these elements as a guideline if you are a beginning digital storyteller. These elements include the following: point of view, dramatic question, emotional content, gift of your voice, power of the soundtrack, economy, and pacing. Point-of-view is the main point of the story and the author's perspective. The dramatic question refers to an engaging question that holds the viewer’s attention until the question is answered at the end of the story. Emotional content refers to the more serious issues that connect the storyteller to the viewer. The gift of your voice is your personalized touch to the story which helps viewers understand your story content. The power of the soundtrack is the music that is added in order to create a more enticing story. The economy refers to minimizing information to maximize interest and the pacing refers to the slowness or quickness of the story’s progression.
The Center for Digital Storytelling website explains the history of digital storytelling. Digital storytelling was found in the 1990’s by a group of media artists, practitioners, and designers in the San Francisco Bay area of California. This group of people came together to explore how storytelling could emerge with a set of digital media tools. Dana Atchley, a media producer collaborated with Joe Lambert, a local theater producer/dramatic consultant to develop a multimedia auto biography called, NEXT EXIT. Together using the NEXT EXIT, they helped assist people turn personal stories into media mementos who had no or little prior experience with production or storytelling using multimedia software. In 1994, Nina Mullen joined Dana and Joe and together they found the Digital Media Center in San Francisco. Later in 1998, the center moved to the University of California in Berkeley and became the Center for Digital Storytelling. Ever since then, the Center has worked with many different organizations and has trained many people in digital storytelling workshops.
Digital storytelling can be used for many different things in the classroom. It is a great alternative to traditional teaching strategies. Students will be excited to use technology. You can use digital storytelling to teach a variety of lessons that will get your class involved. Digital storytelling can be utilized in any subject. Creating an interactive lesson or story that gets students involved will deter them from using a traditional text book that they may find boring.
There are three types of digital stories seen in the classroom. The first type of digital storytelling, personal narratives are created using first-person narrative and tell a personal story or experience. Personal narratives are character stories (how we love, who we are inspired by, importance of finding meaning in our relationships), memorial stories (dealing with memories of those no longer with us), stories about events in our lives (travel adventures and accomplishments), stories about places in our lives (homes, towns, communities), stories about what we do (jobs and finding meaning in our work) and other personal stories (recovery, love, discovery). The second type of digital storytelling, examinations of historical themes and events, is based on material students explore and research themselves. This type of digital storytelling enhances research and organizational skills. The third type of digital storytelling, stories that inform or instruct, can be created to deliver instructional content on many different topics.
Digital Storytelling helps build a classroom community. Students are able to share in a way that quickly instills a positive classroom environment and draws attention to student voices. When a student shared his or her story, they receive positive comments, then suggestions from the class, and finally have a chance to ask the audience any questions about their digital story. The storyteller just listens to the class feedback and does not defend or explain during this time. This approach can be used for all types of sharing, but found it particularly effective to help students see themselves as authors with a purpose. Digital stories allow students to prepare themselves and their writing for a bigger audience someday.
Teachers can utilize digital storytelling in the classroom by presenting classroom rules and expectations to students in the beginning of the school year so students are not just listening to teachers talk. Digital storytelling allows students to introduce themselves in the beginning of the year. Students would rather make a fun presentation about themself than write a paper. Students are excited to use technology in their classroom and digital storytelling is a great opportunity to do so.
Students that may not have been interested in writing prior to a digital storytelling experience, but may learn to love it. Digital storytelling can be used by anyone and shared electronically around the world. It allows students to be readers, writers, and even digital moviemakers. In a journal written by Pauline Hathorn, she explains what she observed in a classroom that used digital storytelling. She explains in the paper what the teacher of the classroom noticed in her students when they started to use digital storytelling saying, “Kajder found that stories flourished in her classroom when she allowed students to see themselves in their work, participate within literacy communities and, define themselves as readers and writers.” Digital storytelling engages students in active learning and allows students to construct their own learning. Through digital storytelling, students have an opportunity to express their own experiences through many different things such as art, creative writing, music, photographs, news clippings, digital video, graphic design, and animation. By expressing their own experiences, students can create their own personal stories. Digital storytelling also has many benefits for improving children’s skills. In a paper called Digital Stories in the Classroom: Narratives for the Future written by David Kennedy he explain these benefits saying, “[The] flexible and dynamic nature of digital storytelling, which encapsulates aural, visual and sensory elements, utilizes the multitude of cognitive processes that underpin learning-from verbal linguistic to spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist and bodily-kinesthetic.”
Digital Storytelling is an effective tool for teachers to use. Digital storytelling will serve as a lesson hook. It will also serve as a way to integrate multimedia technology into the classroom. Students may be able to understand content better when it is expressed in a technological way which tends to be more exciting and engaging. Also, digital stories can spark classroom discussions.
Creating digital stories will benefit students. Students may potentially acquire several skills while working with this type of technology. They may develop research skills, writing skills, organization skills, technology skills, presentation skills (public speaking skills), interview skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and assessment skills.
There are some disadvantages to digital storytelling in the classroom. Many teachers do not have experience with the technology used for teaching digital storytelling. Teachers may need to attend workshops and specialized training may be required before digital storytelling can be used. Also, some teachers have a difficult time figuring out how to assess digital storytelling assignments.
It may be difficult to set up a time limit for the entire class to finish their projects. Some students may grasp the idea and run with it while other students will take a longer time getting used to the technology and the idea of not using pencil and paper to write stories. Teachers should be flexible in these instances and open to project extensions.
Just like with other usages of technology, using digital storytelling can have technical problems. If time is a factor, digital stories usually take longer to create than a “traditional” story. Technology used to create digital stories is expensive. Some schools may not have the means to provide such technology to every classroom.
Students may have troubles during the creation of their digital stories. Some issues that have arisen include the following: trouble formulating a sound argument, they have less interest in the actual storytelling, may only have limited access to the resources they need, there is limited ability to save from the internet, it can be time consuming, and there can be copyright and intellectual property issues.
Every year students are becoming more and more technologically savvy, sometimes leaving teachers behind in the dust. It is vital that teachers find ways to teach students which are excited and engaging in order to enhance learning. Students that may not be interested in English or writing may take an interest in telling a story technologically. Students are able to be much more creative when they can use a computer and other technological resources.
There appears to be many more advantages of digital storytelling than disadvantages. Advantages such as literary advancement, increase of creativity, community-building, and skills trump disadvantages such as teacher training necessary to work with this technology. Teachers are always receiving new training to acquire skills necessary to make their classroom more suitable for upcoming generations of students. Digital storytelling training would not any more complex than any other technology training. If digital storytelling is attributing to student success and creativity, it should be implemented into school curriculums.
Hathorn, P. P. (2005). Using Digital Storytelling as a Literacy Tool for the Inner City Middle School Youth. The Charter Schools Resource Journal, 1(1), 32-38. Retrieved November 18, 2010, from http://www.ehhs.cmich.edu/~tcsrj/phathorn.pdf]
History. (2005). In The Center for Digital Storytelling. Retrieved November 18, 2010, from http://www.storycenter.org/history.html
Kennedy, D. A. (n.d.). Digital Stories in the Classroom: Narratives for the Future. Retrieved November 18,2010, from http://www.davidakennedy.com/_misc/kennedy-dst-research-paper.pdf
The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. University of Houston, 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/getting_started.html>.
Banaszewski, Tom. Digital Storytelling Finds its Place in the Classroom. Multimedia Schools, Jan. 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/jan02/banaszewski.htm>.