Digital Storytelling can be Strange.

Digital Storytelling is an instructional process where we are linking to the part of the brain that makes sense of the world from stories instead of facts. Both teachers and students will assure you that they will remember details better if they are embedded into a storyline instead of a list of Fun Facts. Digital storytelling is a process that provides students and teachers a venue for connecting stories and facts.

Back in June, 2010, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a 3-day Digital Storytelling workshop from Bernajean Porter in Denver, Colorado. We were there anyway for the ISTE 2010 conference so Bernajean opened her doors to hold one of her wonderful camps.

No, there was no horseback riding or high board diving. We didn’t bang around a volleyball on a sand court or make leather pouches. We learned the essence of digital storytelling along with the skills to use a number of multimedia tools. Most importantly, however, we actually created our own digital stories. This was the true essence of project-based learning because everything I learned enabled me to create this final product.

Bernajean’s emphasis in making digital stories is that they need to contain something that the creator  personally learned in the process. A video that spouts merely facts about an event is a documentary. Digital stories must contain an emotional content that personalizes the story.

Three days is not nearly enough time to learn the concepts, tools and create an in-depth story. Therefore, Bernajean provided us with some support by suggesting that we base our stories on the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.  We could talk about something else if we had a burning desire to do so, but this poem was to provide the general framework.

I didn’t know what I was going to create when I began the workshop, but I brought along a number of photos from the year I was a visiting professor in Malaysia back in 1999.  I felt that these were some interesting visuals and it was definitely a road “less traveled.”

I decided to use a few lines from Frost’s poem at the beginning and the end but to author some of my own verses that would individualize the story and share what I personally learned through the experience. While I considered the photos I had with me, I wrote my poem first and then found the visuals that would support my words.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any scanners that I could use to digitize my photos, so I took shots with my camera and used those. That is why it has taken me so long to post this creation. I have been hoping to find time to scan the photos and recreate the story. It hasn’t made it to prime time in 17 months so I will share it with you now.

Another reason that I am posting this now is that our Educational Technology and Design students here at the University of Northern Iowa are beginning to create digital stories to support their thematic units. Thought it was time to bare my soul with my past creation. I want to emphasize the process of writing the script first and then finding the supporting imagery.

Have you created a digital story?  What is your process?
Share some links to your favorite digital stories or ones that you have created.

What’s YOUR opinion?
Leave a comment and keep the discussion going.

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