Thursday, October 11, 2012

Best Practices: Deep Learning in Web 2.0 Digital Storytelling

Have you ever wondered how to you might use storytelling in the online or hybrid classroom? It’s a great pedagogical tool to facilitate deep learning while creating connections among students through the use of technology. Consider this:

Instead of asking students to post superficial comments about a topic or to one another, you might consider using digital storytelling to generate deep and authentic learning through reflective practice. Digital storytelling usually contains some blend of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. Digital stories vary in length, but like podcasting or audio discussions, should typically last between two and ten minutes.

Think about a more complex and effective way to get students engaged and reflective. By asking students to think about their own experiences and to use them in a constructive way to discuss their learning, you put the ownership of learning in their hands. As students reflect and generate their own story, making connections to content and their path toward knowledge, they become excited. This excitement grows after  their story is posted and others read it and make constructive comments.

The University of Houston has a rich Digital Storytelling web presence worth exploring. The have examples in math, ArtReligion, as well as several other examples.

Other rich resources for Digital Storytelling include the Urban School of San Francisco,  and The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California. CDS has compiled rich resources as well as its Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling, which are often cited as a useful starting point as you begin working with digital stories.

CDS' Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling

1. Point of View: What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?

2. A Dramatic Question: A key question that keeps the viewer's attention and will be answered by the end of the story.

3. Emotional Content: Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the story to the audience.

4. The Gift of Your Voice: A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.

5. The Power of the Soundtrack: Music or other sounds that support and embellish the storyline.

6. Economy: Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.

7. Pacing: The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.

Educause which also has its Seven Things You Should Know Series on Digital Storytelling ( Educause concludes that:

Digital storytelling can serve as a bridge between these groups, encouraging a historian, for example, to delve into multimedia applications while exposing a computer scientist to the ideas of narrative through family lore. Creating and watching digital stories has the potential to increase the information literacy of a wide range of students. Moreover, digital stories are a natural fit for e-portfolios, allowing students not only to select representative artifacts from their academic careers but also to create compelling resources that demonstrate the student’s learning and growth.”

If you are up for something new, give it a try and check out these examples to help stimulate your development of digital storytelling assignments to help students learn deeply.

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