Update on 29 July 2016: Viddler (@viddler) is referenced in this post from 8 years ago and has shifted its business model/focus in a different direction.

This morning I took 15 minutes and watched the wonderful presentation “Student Creation of Digital Documentaries in History Classrooms: Research Findings” by Glen Bull, Tom Hammond, and Curby Alexander published today in the 2008 K-12 Online Conference. The session description was:

PrimaryAccess is a free online digital documentary maker designed for social studies instruction. This presentation will provide a quick introduction to PrimaryAccess and then describe some of the research on its use in classrooms, focusing on students’ learning outcomes. The presentation concludes with recommendations for teaching with PrimaryAccess.

Unlike an online video editing website and platform like JumpCut, PrimaryAccess is a web-based digital storytelling environment specifically created for students and teachers and the learning process. I am interested in the ideas of this presentation for several reasons, but a primary one is because we are constantly updating our curriculum and handouts for our statewide “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” oral history project. This presentation includes some valuable findings and recommendations which I think we can integrate into our workshop series. We are holding workshops Oct 30 and 31 and Nov 5-7, so this information and these ideas are very timely for me.

In many of my own past workshops on digital storytelling for teachers, I have recommended a four part process for creating digital stories:

  1. Plan: Storyboard and Write
  2. Produce: Record the pieces
  3. Chop: Edit the pieces
  4. Publish: Share your creation

In the presentation, authors mention that the following process is often used for digital story creation:

  1. Write
  2. Select images.
  3. Narrate.
  4. Apply Motion.

Their research findings suggest, however, the following is a more beneficial process to support student learning and retention of content-area knowledge:

  1. Select images and write.
  2. “Loop” step 1 with teacher input and feedback. (in the form of guided questions)
  3. Narrate.
  4. Apply Motion.

Authors also point to the value of producing videos for a local film festival to recognize and celebrate student work.

The pivotal role of the teacher in the learning process, providing feedback and guidance to students as they engage in the research and digital storytelling processes, is also highlighted in this presentation.

In exploring the Primary Access website further today, I ran across the Virginia Center for Digital History. The recently featured “Virginia Emigrants to Liberia” project is just one of multiple websites and projects maintained by scholars in and associated with the center.

The Primary Access website:

is being developed as an initiative within the Center for Technology & Teacher Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Center faculty members and graduate fellows identify and explore innovative digital technologies.

PrimaryAccess is a member of a family of web based tools that also includes DigitalStoryteller (designed for language arts). Both projects are intended to serve as catalysts in use of effective technology-based tools in the K-12 classroom. Our partners in these endeavors include public schools, local public television stations, the Virginia Center for Digital History, StageTools, and other non-profit and commercial organizations.

The website is going to be redesigned and a survey is available to provide feedback and input for this process. I love the way the site integrates the ability for teachers to leave digital comments and feedback for students, similar to the way viewers can leave “chapter-marked” comments in Viddler videos and now even in YouTube. YouTube calls these “video annotations.” Certainly web-based digital storytelling tools like these can provide a higher level of interactivity and feedback than statically-posted videos.

If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the video podcast or audio podcast channel for the 2008 K-12 Online Conference. This video about PrimaryAccess and digital storytelling is just one of 41 presentations in this year’s conference: All online, all free. The 2008 K12Online08 schedule page lists all presentations in the conference, which are linked as they are published. To date five presentations have been published in the conference this year. We’ve got 36 more to go! 🙂

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