It is fascinating to see digital technology bring back the ancient art of storytelling back into the hands of ordinary people. The Web’s affordance to rip-mash-remix, which has unleashed widespread creativity, has pedagogical implications as well. Digital storytelling allows for a multimodal representation of thoughts, concepts, and understanding and can become a powerful way to showcase one’s learning.
My student and I have used Prezi, Storybird and Littlebirdtales to create stories in the classroom. For my assignment I used neither as I wanted to explore newer tools with different affordances. I became really curious when one of the featured site on Cogdogroo called Animoto a “slideshow on steroids”.
Animoto allows uploading images and videos not only from your own computer but also from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and some other sites. While it provides for a large audio library with music from several genres, it allows uploading your own mp3 file as well. The most alluring feature for me was the variety of thematic video styles provided which make the slide backgrounds, transitions, and effects very stylish. The site advertises use of technology which “thinks like an actual director and editor.”
The combination of all the affordances was very effective. I found it easier to work in slides than organizing my content on an endless canvass called Prezi. This has been a challenge for my young students. I liked the luxury of using my own images, which Storybird does not allow. I also liked the availability of music. Littlebirdtales allows me to record my own voice, which is very appealing for students. However, though not as easily done here, I could have created an mp3 recording of my own reading using Audacity and uploaded the file.
Pedagogical Implications of Storytelling:
The simplicity of using Animoto to make sophisticated productions makes it the right tool not only for me but also for my students. As David Berlind, executive editor of ZDNet, is quoted by Lamb (2007) stating “With mashups, fewer technical skills are needed to become a developer than ever.” Students can focus on the content instead of the complicated steps and processes involved in such productions to showcase their ideas and learning.
Literacy has been able to move beyond the restraints of reading and writing due to availability of such medium which allows learners to express their ideas in multimodal ways. This is a constructivist approach of learning wherein the learner manages their own learning as it reinforces educational skills like research, deeper thinking, organization, writing, presentation, and problem-solving (Lunce, 2011) and promotes self-efficacy, empowerment, and community-building opportunities (Roby, 2010). It totally individualized learning, which I understand in the crux to effective learning.
Relevance of this story within my Teaching:
My story is an attempt to amalgamate the Language Arts curriculum in which students are expected to compose personal writings, experiment with word choice and sentence fluency, and organize writing around central themes, within one constructivist activity. I also wanted to use this tool to bring forth the story element of Metaphor. I used the story about my fear of the ocean to represent my initial trepidation within the MET journey and my amazement at the wealth of knowledge I gradually accumulated and shared.
As an elementary teacher I teach all subject areas and thrive on inter-curricular activities which allow students to immerse in the content. Digital storytelling is one such platform which allows for such integration of content. While exploring the language arts outcomes, students could use content from the science, social, math, P.E., visual arts or personal planning learning outcomes. The possibilities are seamless and the prospects very exciting!
B.C. IRP. Grade 4 Curriculum Package accesssed March 12, 2012 http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/curric_grade_packages/gr4curric_req.pdf
Lamb, B. (2007). Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4 (July/August 2007): 12–25. Accessed online July 8 2009 http://www.educause.edu
Lunce, C. (2011). Digital storytelling as an educational tool. Indiana Libraries, Vol. 30, Number 1. Accessed March 11, 2012 http://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/IndianaLibraries/article/viewFile/1920/1832
Roby, T. (2010). Opus in the classroom: Striking CoRDS with content-related digital storytelling. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol10/iss1/currentpractice/article1.cfm