This podcast is a recording of my keynote address on Digital Storytelling in the Classroom at the 2006 Hawaii Library Association’s annual conference in Honolulu. In the address, I discussed the connections digital storytelling has to literacy development and the roles of school librarians, shared several examples of exemplary student and teacher-created digital stories, and invited audience members to engage themselves and their students in digital storytelling projects in the weeks and months ahead.

Show notes for this podcast include:

  1. My online curriculum for digital storytelling workshops
  2. Hawaii Island Movie Contest Winners
  3. Center for Digital Storytelling Examples
  4. Apple iLife Contest Award Winners
  5. My Digital Storytelling social bookmarks

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2 Responses to Podcast103: Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

  1. Dave Arthur says:

    Dear Wesley – I think it’s a universal law that we find what we need when we need it. Or p’raps we just notice it when we need it. Anyway, I’m writing to thank you for your Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, which I serendipitously found on the internet. I’ve seen many references lately to ‘digital storytelling’ and never bothered to look at them, or to consider what it was they were actually talking about. For some reason your artcle caught my eye and imagination and I’ve just spent an inspiring half hour with you in Hawaii, and then a most enjoyable and informative exploration of the archives of the Centre for Digital Storytelling. I suddenly realised that I have been involved in ‘digital storytelling’ for most of my adult life as a folklorist and oral historian; I’d just not used that terminology for it. I spent years recordng life stories and personal anecdotes for my own information and research, and also for the sound archive department of the BBC. The only difference being that in the days before the unversal availability of the computer and the easy to use digital camera, all my work was done as simply sound recordings, edited with a razor blade! Since then (1970s and 80s) I’ve worked as a professional storyteller of traditional tales in schools, colleges, libraries, festivals etc., around the world, and until today have not really considered digital storytelling, whatever that might entail, as being part of my remit as a storyteller. For me the essense of storytelling is a personal face to face encounter, more conversation than theatre, more personal, immediate, and intimate than film and recording, and composed of a number of elements which are only really possible in the physical moment of storytelling creation – a two way communication involving sound (the storyteller’s voice, and any sound effects that might be used), movement (body language, eye-contact), and even a sartorial element (any assumption and reactions made by the audience on the dress ad physical appearance of the teller). Of course all these things work albeit on a slightly different level, in film, but there is a magic, an intangible electricity in the air at a live storytelling performance. That being said I realise now that there is, of course, a place for ‘digital storytelling’ in the classroom, cinema, internet, etc., especially as an encouragement to literacy and the desire to communicate ideas, passions, histories. It’s just that the term ‘storytelling’ is used by so many people in so many ways that it has become almost meaningless, as far as a specific definition. A bit like ‘folk singer’, which means as many things as there are people using the term; everything from Bob Dylan or Paul Simon to an unaccompanied Appalachian ballad singer, and much in between.

    Why I was so inspired by your talk and links is because I am just about to start a project with young (teenage) Gypsy/Romani students at a secondary school in Shropshire, on the English/Welsh borders. They are generally under achievers, and irregular attenders at the school, preferring to take time off to work with their parents in things such as agricultural, gardening, building wrk; things that will earn them a living, and for which they feel that practical experience is more use than book learning. Which is possibly right. However if they continue with this idea they are destined never to move out of those areas of work, and never to experience all the possibilities offered by a more academic educational background. Here, of course, literacy is vital, but for them an oral literacy is how information and skills are passed on, so they don’t see the need for ‘education’in the formal sense. The project is being set up to encourage them to investigate their cultural history and to present it to the non-Gypsy general public in the form of a celebration/performance/exhibition etc, some time next year. This will hopefully raise the profile of the Gypsy people in Shropshire in a positive way, and build self esteem and a sense of self worth in the Gypsy students, who traditionally suffer from negative attitudes and racial prejudice from the settled community, and will encourage them to spend more time in the school.

    My role is to encourage and stimulate the teenagers (about ten of them) into taking a pride in their Gypsy heritage and roots, and to collect, record, and interview their families and friends for life stories, and skills, and experiences. Also to learn traditional Gypsy songs, music, dances, and traditional tales, and to take pride in them and to present them to the public and their fellow students next year.

    The school has, of course, got access to computers, cameras, and sound recording equipment, and I think the idea that they could create examples of ‘digital storytelling’ that could be seen and experienced all over the world, and not just in their own village, will be a great inspiration for them and will be a marvelous adjunct to the physical elements of the project such as the dances, songs, crafts, food etc., that will hopefully eventually be on display.

    Being a bit of a Luddite myself, and having generally left the technical side of things to ‘experts’ I obviously have a lot of catching up to do vis a vis putting/getting stuff on the internet, and mastering the technical skills of filming/editing/visual presentations etc. Or at least understanding enough to be able to help the students achieve something special.

    Thanks once again for kicking my butt into the 21st century. I’ll keep an eye on your website for more inspiration. Any information on websites or book/s that you think I really ought to check out to help me into modern ‘digital storytelling’ would be gratefully received.

    Wishing you all that’s best,

    Dave Arthur

  2. […] So, I want to start with something recent. Wes Fryer talked about digital storytelling and, as I recall, how he has his daughter, a pre-schooler, creating them. When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, my supervisor had mentioned how I might be able to use some of my digital literacies to capture some family memories for posterity. Well, though I have yet to make my own digital story, my daughter (age 4) and I collaborated to make a story as a gift to mom this holiday season. Everyone asked, “How much of this did you do, Troy?” and I tell them that I really did very little. I showed her some basic controls in iMovie, helped her look through our family pictures, and then set up the mic. She did the rest. It was amazing, and made for many conversations over the past week. It also cemented the feeling for me that digital storytelling is something worth academic and personal pursuit, a feeling that I had long pushed to the side. At any rate, it is on You Tube, but I have it marked as private (I still feel weird sharing my kids’ images and voices online to the general public), so if you want to see it, send me an email and I will invite you. […]

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