Everybody’s Got a Story

I’ve set up my wiki for my digital storytelling workshop on Monday and Tuesday. I really struggled with the format, the tools and the pedagogical approach.

The format:

How many activities/projects can be done in 2 days? I know many workshops will focus totally on one project. They’ll spend much of day one setting the stage for digital storytelling and then spend day 2 on creation. After posting about my last workshop, the great comments helped me confirm my instinct for balance. I’m hoping to interject pedagogy and philosophy in the midst of the various projects. Wes’ idea about constantly providing opportunities for participants to reflect as well as create is a good one. Not that I’ve never done that but I need the reminder. Secondly, I’m choosing to use day 1 to create 3 mini-projects and day 2 to create single larger project. My thinking is since I believe digital storytelling is much broader than most think, I want to give them experience in a few different approaches. Even at that, we’ll only be scratching the surface but only creating a single project doesn’t address the myriad of possibilities

The tools:

I had a great Skype conversation with Miguel last night and he described the discussion he’s been involved with about the tools of digital storytelling. For a number of very good reasons, they’ve chosen to go exclusively with Windows Movie Maker.  David Jakes and others prefer PhotoStory and of course Mac users love iMovie. PowerPoint, Audacity and various image video editing tools are possible tools for digital storytelling.

I’m going to focus on Movie Maker and PhotoStory. I would have likely focused solely on PhotoStory but because my participants are wanting some experience with video, Movie Maker is required. Also, Miguel made a great case for Movie Maker because of the ease of audio recording and editing right within the program, negating the use for another audio editor. (their approach also is about oral storytelling, so there is no written script)

The Pedagogy: 

Miguel’s oral storytelling approach, really interests me but I think I need more time and expertise to pursue that. Also, I know many groups including the story center, focus exclusively on personal narratives. These are powerful and will be the approach for the day 2 project but I think it’s also important to discover academic or content stories. These will be done with the day 1 projects.

I’ll likely piddle away at it between now and Monday and also try and create a decent introduction. Miguel asked me to record it so hopefully I’ll remember. If you have any other ideas, comments or suggestions, either drop them off here or over at the wiki.

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  • Dean: I start off by showing an example of digital storytelling that I did, followed by various outstanding student examples. Along the way, I have the participants record what they thought was most effective about the different digital stories-these can then serve as a basis for developing evaluation of a student project as well as ideas for their own story.

    From there we talk about the elements of a typical digital story, and by then they know them; voice, video, still frame, and music. I also talk about other elements, such as black space, transitions and text.

    From there we talk about the digital storytelling process, and of course, I favor the written narrative approach. I’ve seen the power of that approach over 3 years and over 1000 students engage in it as a means to improve their writing. I make sure that they understand that the narrative is distilled to a script which is then built back by adding the elements of multimedia.

    From there, I show them Flickr and the attribution pool-we use that to locate our imagery, remembering to click on most interesting in the search return to return the most dramatic photography. I also expect them to record the Flickr username for attribution purposes within their story-we actually build this into the file name when it is saved. They also need to understand about the proper file size (generally over 800 X 600 pixels)for the photos for inclusion in their stories. I also teach them how to do the pans and zooms.

    Once they understand this, they are ready to build. I use Photostory and demonstrate it by building a simple story. From there, I give them a project-I always ask them to create a priceless MasterCard commercial-something 0 dollars, something 0 dollars, Something-Priceless. About 10 images, one song (from onboard music in Photostory, 4 slides with voice and that gets it done.

    In an 8-4 workshop with an hour for lunch, that would give you about 1/2 hour to share, which I always do.

    On the next day, they have all the basic principles at hand, an introduction on MovieMaker and all that would entail. They are then ready to use MovieMaker to create their second movie-they write, storyboard, locate images, and away they go.

    Feel free to use any of my documents at http://www.jakesonline.org/storytelling.htm

    if they would help.

    I would devote the entire first day to background, a simple project, and Photostory, which is doable. I would then use the second day to explore MovieMaker which is a natural progression.

    I also use writing prompts (on my site) to get them thinking about storytelling topics.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks David for sharing. I’ll definitely take your opinions to heart. Thanks also for making some great contributions to the wiki.

  • Gareth Morlais

    Interesting plan. I like the multi-disciplinary approach. I’m not personally as keen on the use of borrowed stuff from Flikr and Freeplaymusic but, for the purposes of gathering module evidence I can see it’s a quick way of getting content.
    Something I’ve found that works quite well in a class is a hand-drawn story board approach to personal storytelling. I haven’t written up the methodology yet but what I did was to play the ‘match game’, where everyone has as long as it takes for a long household match to burn to talk about a time when they felt (e.g.) great excitement in their life. They then use a template to storyboard this – http://www.aberth.com/mytoon/cartoonframe.pdf
    I needs to be scanned in and the frames all need to be singled out and cropped to 768×576 pixels. If you’re using Windows, freeware like FSviewer can be useful for this. The student then drags their images onto the timeline and synchs them up to their voicetrack.
    When I piloted this model at Ysgol Rhydywaun, Aberdare, with BBC Wales this spring, we tried to fit everything with a group of 13 art students into one day. I was determined to use only the school’s own resources and, because there were only three PCs in the class, only three students finished the edit. I think it is do-able though. We used Windows Movie Maker 2 and exported full-sized DV AVI PAL. This is just about SD broadcast quality and we’ve put conventional Digital Stories made by Coleg Sir Gar students out on BBC TV using these settings.
    Good luck with the Wiki and with the digital storytelling,
    Gareth Morlais