NECC 2008 was a fantastic experience in San Antonio this year, but the road trip down to San Antonio and back to Oklahoma (for me) with Kansans Kevin Honeycutt, Michelle Honeycutt, Ginger Lumen, Charlie Mahoney, and Dean Mantz was one of the top highlights of the week. On the way down we engaged in some seriously geeky intra-car bonjour networking and video iChatting as well as live webcasting, which was certainly great fun. On the way back, however, our discussions (or at least much of the discussion in my car) turned serious: How are we going to use the tools at our fingertips to help more educators and students “plug in” to the growing digital learning network we’ve discovered, and do so in safe ways that cultivate digital citizenships skills along with media literacy, 21st century skills, and traditional content area knowledge and skills? For me, finding ways to support educators and schools engaged in 1:1 learning projects in Oklahoma and elsewhere is also of particular concern. One specific idea Kevin and I brainstormed was a new educational collaborative we could start: “Story Chasers.”

Think of storm chasers.

Storm Chasers TIV 2

Equipped with the latest in high-tech gadgetry and communications technology, storm chasers travel the countryside following storms. Just like we can (potentially) as story chasers. Not stopping and ending our journey just because we have encountered a state line. Going after the story. Working together, using our technology tools, and bringing the story to the world. Developing and supporting local teams of “story chasers” including students, teachers, and community members. Providing holiday opportunities for participants to travel to a location to learn about digital storytelling, new media broadcasting, digital ethics, webcasting, and other topics. To create and publish compelling digital content together, and then return home further equipped and ready to be local story chasers. What a wonderful initiative for which we can seek grant and foundation funding.

Two weeks ago I registered the domain storychasers.org and tweeted about it. I had just installed Drupal on the site and put up an initial post there, but several people immediately registered on the site. Yikes! We weren’t necessarily ready to “go live,” but this is a work in progress, and no one (yet) is getting paid full time to develop this initiative. The adventure begins.

Today I received a tweet from Cheryl Lykowski, who had visited with Scott Meech as well as Kevin Honeycutt at a recent Discovery Education event about possible ways to network their students who are creating regular school news broadcast programs. Cheryl had been thinking of SNN as an acronym: “Student News Network.”

The story chasers project embodies many of the ideas and goals which Cheryl and Scott were discussing. Currently the “about page” for the project reads:

Storychasers is a multi-state (and potentially multi-national) educational collaborative empowering students and teachers to responsibly record and share stories of local, regional and global interest as citizen journalists. Instead of CNN (Cable News Network) think SNN (Student News Network.) Storychaser media productions can be shared as live broadcast events or recorded, asynchronously shared audio and video files.

It has been proposed that one specific focus of our collaborative be on supporting educators and learners involved in one-to-one laptop initiatives, where every student and every teacher is equipped with a laptop computer. It has also been suggested that we focus on primarily supporting learners in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and north Texas, but we are not an exclusively regional group and welcome involvement and participation from educators, students, parents, and other community members around the world. It remains unresolved whether we will have a regional focus at all. It may be that Storychaser groups will sponsor local events and meet-ups, and be open for membership and participation from learners around the globe. (We are currently an open community where any one can register.)

We encourage teachers currently involved in or wanting to be involved in the production of “school news” broadcast programs to register as a “Storychasers Affiliate Station.” This designation can be done after you register by clicking “My Account” in the left sidebar and clicking the tab for “Affiliate Info” at the top.

In addition to facilitating collaborative projects and partnerships among members, we aspire to offer holiday institutes focusing on digital storytelling, citizen journalism, remote webcasting and videoconferencing, and other constructive uses of new media technologies for communication, collaboration, and content creation.

Cheryl and I had a conversation today over Skype which resulted in a 20 minute recorded podcast (which I’ll publish soon) as well as a publicly shared Google document including more background on our ideas and thinking for this project. I created a project logo and spent some time adding some features and content to our storychasers.org website.

Storychasers.org logo

On behalf of the Storychaser project, I’d like to invite you to join us next week on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 for a skypecast discussion about this proposed initiative. We will start at 8 pm Eastern / 7 pm Central / 6 pm Mountain / 5 pm Pacific. To participate you’ll need to download and install Skype (free), be on a high speed Internet connection in a location that permits Skype to be used, have a working microphone, and visit this link to join the Skypecast. If you are located outside the United States and interested in attending, I apologize in advance that this is U.S.-centric time for the skypecast. If we have interest from international teachers, we certainly can schedule conversations at more convenient times. In any event we will record our conversation and I’ll share it here later as a podcast. Please register on the site if you’re interested in this project.

The storychasers are off! I think it is going to be an exciting ride. :-)

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  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Tammy Parks sent me an email to let me know about the Student Television Network, which has 896 affiliates in forty-eight states, Canada and several international locations. This looks like a great organization to join for student broadcast news collaboration.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    I’ve updated the first paragraph of the “about” page for Storychasers to read:

    Storychasers is a multi-state (and potentially multi-national) educational collaborative empowering students and teachers to responsibly record and share stories of local, regional and global interest as citizen journalists. Where the STN (Student Television Network) focuses on student broadcast news productions, Storychasers has a specific focus on student-created documentary films as well as live event coverage (webcasting). Storychaser media productions can be shared as live broadcast events or recorded, asynchronously shared audio and video files.

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