For week 8, I chose an article by Jason Ohler called The World of Digital Storytelling. It originally appeared in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Educational Leadership. I found the article through Google Scholar, and the link does not work, so if you would like to read the article, you can search for it in Google Scholar (sorry, I have not had time to figure out how to use hypothesis yet).
This article is easy and quick to read and provides some good tips for incorporating storytelling in the classroom.
Ohler opens with a description of a 6th grader’s digital story project and talks about how the 6th grader created all of the elements herself. He then points out that what she was able to do would have been impossible several years ago, but now we have technologies that make digital storytelling accessible to all ages and users.
One of the points that really stood out was “The important question for educators to ask is, ―What does digital storytelling offer education? The answer is ―a great deal, if we do two things: focus on the story first and the digital medium later; and use digital storytelling to enhance students’ skills in critical thinking, expository writing, and media literacy.”
He highlights that story first should be stressed when using digital storytelling in the classroom. And this is because if the student focuses too much on the technology, then he runs the risk of losing the story and relying too much on the technology. And a bad or boring story in a pretty package is still a bad or boring story.
Ohler also recommends using a storymap prior to storyboarding for the digital story because a storyboard lacks the ability to get to the heart or conflict of the story.
He then talks about the components of a compelling story: A call to adventure; problem-solution involving transformation; and closure.
He also likes to focus on writing with his students. Even though in a digital format, there might not be a lot of written word, there still needs to be written scripts.
He then goes on to talk about the importance of tying digital story creation to curriculum. If there is no tie to the curriculum, digital stories will not survive as an educational tool.
I definitely recommend reading this article. It reminded me of an article one of my classmates mentioned: MAKE IT PERSONAL! And as I commented on his post, I totally agree that no matter how fun or fancy the technology, it cannot make up for a poorly told story. However, I would like to reiterate that I believe that choosing the right technology/platform is an important part of the process. So teaching students both aspects – creating a good story and choosing the right platform – are equally important.