Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 8 (March 22 - 28, 2011)

Back from a relaxing Spring Break, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the semester. We are gearing up for our upcoming digital story projects so, in order to prepare, our professor assigned us a couple readings covering this topic. I am definitely looking forward to the digital story project because I have seen so many, but have never actually gone through the process of making my own.

Of the two readings, the first was informative as it described a teacher’s first-hand account creating digital stories with some of her classes. However, most of the advice given was geared towards Mac users, providing a section called “iMovie Tips” (a program on the Mac operating system for creating home movies, as well as digital stories) (Banaszewski, 2002). As I am still a PC user, I couldn’t relate to some things mentioned, so I wasn’t completely interested.

On the other hand, I was actually quite fond of the second reading because it not only provided important background information, but a step-by-step process to follow as well called “The Seven Elements of Effective Digital Stories” (Bull & Kajder, 2004, p.47). However, the authors give credit to the originators of this process, Joe Lambert and Dana Atchley from the Center for Digital Storytelling at UC Berkeley, whose work back in 1993 built the foundation for digital storytelling as we know it today. The authors group and order these elements a bit differently from the originators, however the underlying ideas remain the same. The seven elements are described as follows:

A. Phases of writing: Stories are drafted, scripts revised and storyboards designed.
1. Point of view - the focus of the story should be on the writer; the first-person pronoun “I” should be used.
2. Dramatic question - the question that is posed in the story to hold audience attention; the answer (or resolution) should be given by the end.
3. Emotional content - the story should try and evoke an emotional response from the audience.
4. Economy - the story should not be too long (e.g. two-three minutes for one double-spaced page is a good measure) in order to make the construction process (see below) more manageable, and the story more focused.

B. Construction: Stories are constructed using a digital video editor
5. Pacing - the story should be told at varied paces (i.e. speeding up, slowing down) in order to help keep audience attention.
6. Gift of voice - the story should be told with the writer’s own voice, and should try and employ different voice strategies (e.g. pitch and tone).
7. Soundtrack - the story should try and incorporate a musical piece in order to add depth; copyright should also be accounted for.

Equipped with this knowledge, I feel a lot more confident going into the digital story project. Not to mention, if I ever have the opportunity to run such a project with a class of my own, I’ll be clued up as to what all is required and what pitfalls to be weary of.

Banaszewski, T. (2002). Digital storytelling finds its place in the classroom. Retrieved from

Bull, G., & Kajder, S. (2004). Digital storytelling in the language arts classroom. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(4), 46-49.

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