Posted by: | 15th Jul, 2009

Digital Storytelling Reflection

The digital storytelling activity was awesome. What a great opportunity to be exposed to over 50 storytelling tools! While I wrote a rather lengthy entry on my digital storytelling page describing my experience and how I went about selecting my storytelling tool, I will add some more thought here as now I’ve the opportunity to view the stories created by my ETEC 565 classmates.

  • Our definition of literacy HAS to change in the 21st Century and seeing the vast array of ways to tell a story in this activity really drives that point home. Telling a story is no longer reserved for pencil and paper drafts, especially in education discourse. We need to broaden our horizons quite a bit if we want to meet the learning needs of our young readers and writers. This includes giving students the opportunity to view and represent knowledge in new ways. Using my story as an example, I would have bored my readers to death if I had written a report about traveling around Norway with my sister and mom, but I like to think that by presenting my story using a blend of images, audio, text, and effects made my story interesting. This is, I think, the reason I would use a digital storytelling approach in my classroom: to allow students a multi-modal means of expressing themselves.
  • Using a storytelling tool like Animoto should be easy, but it wasn’t and I ended up running into all sorts of roadblocks that would have driven me nuts if I was standing in front of my class while using the program. Issues such as account problems, files being incompatable, and a lack of control over editing caused delays and problems. Just when I thought I had it figured out, one my classmates informed me that my embed would not play on my blog page. I suppose running into problems like this is normal when trying to integrate technology though and usually I can get things ironed out to save a lesson or a unit.
  • Of added value to this activity was viewing the stories created by my classmates. I learned so much from their creativity and expertise and the discussion forum allowed us to delve deeper into the potential of digital storytelling. There some talented individuals in the ETEC 565 community and the course is set up so I can learn from my classmates not just my instructor and the course readings.

To close, I’d like to include an excerpt from my Digital Storytelling page where I draw from some relevant resources in order to situate my thoughts on digital storytelling in pedagogy.

According to Warlick (2008), what it means to be literate has been redefined in the 21st Century. To Warlick, our concept of literacy can longer be centered upon reading, writing, and arithmetic, but rather on the “3Es- expose what is true, employ the information, and express ideas compellingly ” (2008). My social studies will indeed need to utilize these skills as they gather information about their culture and decide how best to convey that information to an audience. Students will no doubt discover that not all of their research sources provide factual, verifiable information and they’ll need to learn new skills in determining what qualifies as a reliable source. My students will also learn that there exists no one correct way to express ideas.

For those who argue that there still needs to be an emphasis on reading and writing, there is research that shows that digital storytelling improves traditional literacy skills in addition to digital, and media literacy (Ohler, 2008). This makes perfect sense when you think about it. After all, how can my learners conduct research without reading and writing? The difference here I guess is allowing students to tell their stories in a language they know and understand: electronic media. With the monstrous amounts of digital content available to my learners, partaking in remixing and reusing, or the ‘Mashup’ (Lamb, 2007), should appeal to my grade eight students. As a teacher, it’s exciting to imagine what kind of dynamic storytelling will take place.

The switch from a traditional research assignment to a digital story also makes for a more authentic learning experience. One reason is that students have been charged with telling a story from someoneelse’s point of view. How can one begin to do so without a strong understanding of what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes so to speak? Authenticity is also achieved through the creation of a digital story that will be shared with an audience. Here students are playing the roles of researcher,anthropologist, screenwriter, director, editor, etc. Hopefully they will gain an appreciation of what it might be like to work in one of these fields. Lastly, we should not ignore that publishing to an outside audience makes the learning process very meaningful. All too often students arrive at school, hand in their assignments to a teacher for evaluation, and then leave for the day. There is little excitement or sense of accomplishment when you are merely creating for your teacher alone. Engagement, in my opinion, is too often gauged on the common student question, “So, who will be seeing our assignments?”

Earlier in the ETEC 565 course, we learned about the importance of interactions in effective learning designs (Anderson, 2008). Additionally, within the 565 discussion forums, we see first-hand how interactions among a community can enhance the overall quality of the learning experience. The digital storytelling approach I want to implement in my social studies course calls for students to support one another with their assignments. My vision is that students will serve as an editing circle, providing feedback on the story drafts. I’ve used this approach in my writing courses, yet I have difficulty having students buy into the concept. The reason for this is likely because students don’t want to spend long periods of time reading peer-written essays. Essays simply do not interest the 21st Century learner as much as multimedia assignments do. Students these days seem to require a visual and audio dimension in nearly media source they consume.


Anderson, T. (2008). Towards a Theory of Online Learning.  In: Anderson, T. & Elloumi, F. Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Athabasca University. Accessed online 8 July 2009

Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Chapter 4: a Framework for Selecting and Using Technology. In Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. (pp. 77-105). San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.

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

Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Warlick, D. (2008). Redefining literacy 2.0. Worthington, OH: Linworth Books.

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