Week 9: Gallery Walk Presentation

Wow! It’s hard to believe it is already week 9 of the semester. Not too much longer and I will be completely done with my graduate program. This week, we were tasked to give a mid semester review of what we have learned, highlighting some of our fellow students’ blogs, posts, and contributions.

So, I started thinking about what I have learned so far (both about me and about digital storytelling) and came up with a laundry list. Some of these things I already knew about myself, but taking this course seemed to reinforce them.

  1. I procrastinate. I love deadlines because they help me focus and reign in my habit of procrastinating. Without deadlines, things would never get done in my world! Most of my online classes have Sunday due dates for both posts and comments. And I would always wait until Sunday to post and comment! So while having a Thursday due date is hard, it keeps me on track 🙂
  2. I have good intentions but a hard time following through. In all of my weekly blog posts, I have mentioned how I really need to clean up my blog so it’s cleaner and more navigable (is that a word?). And each week, I look at my schedule and decide that the weekend is perfectly open, so I’ll have time to really get in the weeds with it. But then the weekend rolls around and my schedule either fills or up I find myself relaxing to recover from the week, and not focusing on the things I had planned on doing!
  3. Digital storytelling is awesome! In a previous life, I was a children’s librarian, so I have a strong understanding of the power of storytelling. Digital storytelling is a whole new realm (though not really since I have, at times, been a gamer, a captive audience, and even a creator).
  4. I wish I had more time to read each blog post of each of my classmates. Life just gets in the way of doing all the things we want to do! There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to encompass work, school, play, and sleep.
  5. I’m still not comfortable with hypothesis (see item 2).

My biggest take-aways from the readings and from other posts are:

  1. Focus on the story. If you don’t have a good and interesting story, it doesn’t matter how you present it.
  2. Digital stories can be presented in so many different ways and can be as simple or as complex as the creator wishes.
  3. There are so many tools out there for creating digital stories. This makes digital storytelling accessible by anyone with the time and the right equipment.
  4. When using digital stories in the classroom, it is important to tie the usage to the curriculum.
  5. Digital storytelling is something everyone can do!

The first student’s blog I would like to highlight is Undead Unlimited. This student chose to focus on zombies for this class, and I love zombie movies and TV shows! Two of my favorite in this genre are The Walking Dead and Shaun of the Dead. That was one reason that this blog appeals to me. The second reason it appeals to me is because this student finds some interesting digital stories to critique. I Remember is one of his most recent where he critiques what he calls “a hybrid between film and game; a blending between watching and doing.” The third appeal to this blog was how it helped me expand my understanding of digital stories. When I first started this class, I had it in my mind that a digital story needed to be based on reality… that it had to be someone’s story. Undead Unlimited helped me have that aha moment when I was like… oh yeah, video games, movies, and even commercials can also be included in the digital story genre.

In that same vein, Lisa Fish’s post Digital Story Critique: Serenity for Working Moms, had the same eye opening affect on me. When I first started looking for digital stories to critique, I stayed away from YouTube because I wanted to find stories that used more interesting technologies to deliver their story. I also wanted to find stories that used photography in some way, since that is my focus theme. However, in doing so, I think I actually ended up limiting myself, closing myself off to some of the more simplistic but effective mediums for storytelling. In Lisa’s post, she critiqued a podcast. And much like the aha moment I had from Undead Unlimited‘s blog theme, I had a second aha moment from this post and vowed to not limit myself to finding sophisticated digital storytelling mediums.

David Sampson’s post Response – 8 Steps to Great Digital Storytelling reinforced the idea that anyone can create a great digital story, if they follow the proper steps. I think creating or telling a story can be intimidating to the beginner. For me, it’s usually that I have too many ideas and don’t know where to start. Or I know a good middle but get stuck on trying to figure out a beginning. I am my own worst enemy and create my own writer’s block. I also do much better when I have a framework or specific guidelines to follow. David included a diagram from the article he critiqued which laid out the steps for creating a story. I found this to be very helpful!

I also commented on two different students’ article reflections where it seemed like one of the central themes was “it’s all about the story.” In Andrew Polson’s post MAKE IT PERSONAL! he highlights the author’s sentiments that for a story to work, it has to be personal, and the story is the most important part of the story, not the medium used to deliver the story. Meissa Samba, in Response to Digital Storytelling: What it is… And… What it is NOT, wrote that “digital Storytelling is not about the tools, but about the skills.”  And even in my own post Week 8: Response & Reflection, I wrote about an article written by Jason Ohler where he stressed the importance of crafting a great story, independent of the technology. I think these are important points to think about when either creating your own digital story or when helping others create their own digital stories. But, as I mentioned in my comments as well as in my blog post, the technology cannot be ignored. The right technology can add to or enhance the story, while the wrong technology can leave the audience wanting, regardless of how good the story is. However, I do agree that fancy technology cannot fix or hide a poorly crafted story.

And I’d like to reshare a comment that I made Heather’s Critique of Ken Robinson’s Changing Educational Paradigms – “Thanks for sharing this. As I was reading your post, I had a very odd “ah ha” moment! I have always said that our educational system needs to be overhauled, but I didn’t realize how limited my thinking was in that overhaul until I read this statement “Kids are educated in large batches, they are the same age, and they are typically forced to sit and acquire knowledge.” All of a sudden, this light bulb went on in my head that was like…. “yeah, why do we do this?” I realize, that developmentally, I guess grouping by age is an easy way to organize students. However, it seems that we are missing out on how we can bring more creative learning by bringing together diverse groups of students, including age diversity.” I often say that I love it when someone can change my mind or change my way of looking at something. It is literally as if a lightbulb goes on in my head, but I didn’t even realize it wasn’t turned on.

Going forward, I hope to continue to learn more about the tools available to storytellers, specifically different ways to incorporate photography/photographs in the story. I also want to learn more about games as a method of storytelling (thank you Undead Unlimited). I also want to learn more about using Word Press so that I can make my blog presentation more aesthetic. I also hope to be less fearful in incorporating technology in my posts. I find that words are so much easier to rely on when telling a story or completing an assignment, but wish I would have been more daring and tried to create a more visual presentation.

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