Digital Storytelling ….. and ePortfolios?



Last session I demonstrated to various groups of teachers how to use Audacity with Windows Moviemaker to make what I termed a ‘Vodcast’. I think this was the most popular of the courses that I presented. After taking part in the ‘hands-on’ sessions, even the teachers who lacked confidence in their ICT skills went away with something that they knew they could use in class the next day. I’d used the process with my own classes on quite a number of occasions, so was able to demonstrate a variety of possible uses. A few examples are included below to show how pupils used this to:

  •  recount what they’d learned on a class trip by using photographs to jog memories
  • illustrate a story they’d written, and retell it orally
  • talk about favourite books and show a slideshow of front covers and page illustrations
  • provide an oral and visual account of what they’d learned about a particular topic

Windows Moviemaker and Audacity (and lame encoder) are installed in all PC’s in our Local Authority, and next session I’m hoping that Photostory3 will also be installed.  I’m looking for ways to develop the opportunities for using ‘vodcasts’ in the classroom next session. I’ve heard the phrase ‘digital storytelling’  and decided to investigate this concept further.

Of course, there’s also a wide variety of freely available online tools that can be used to create your own web-based story, too, and more than 50 of theses tools can be accessed here. The wiki ‘owner’ mentions that it wasn’t long ago that producing multimedia digital content required expensive equipment and technical expertise, but that we are at the point now where we can do some very compelling content creation with nothing more complex than a web browser. The stories can include  basic use of media types – images, text, video, and/or audio.

So – what else have I found out about digital story-telling?

The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling website describes how British photographer, educator and digital storyteller, Daniel Meadows defines digital stories as “short, personal multimedia tales told from the heart.” He maintains that the beauty of this form of digital expression is that these stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject, and shared electronically all over the world.

I also found a publication by the Educause learning Initiative and I’ve copied bits and pieces that seemed to make sense to me and I’ve included them here: 

  • “Digital Storytelling” is an emerging term, one that arises from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own ‘true stories’ in a compelling and emotionally engaging form.
  • It is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component.
  • Digital stories can be instructional, persuasive, historical, or reflective
  • Some learning theorists believe that as a pedagogical technique, storytelling can be effectively applied to nearly any subject.
  • Constructing a narrative and communicating it effectively require the storyteller to think carefully about the topic and consider the audience’s perspective.
  • ……. to facilitate various learning styles and connect to students’ interest in technology, and, for students, to develop their ability to appropriately evaluate and use online content and electronic tools as a means of personal expression.
  • A digital story typically begins with a script. The storyteller then assembles rich media to support the ideas and emotions in that script, including music or other audio effects, personal or public-domain images, animations or video, and other electronic elements.
  • Digital stories let students express themselves not only with their own words but also in their own voices, fostering a sense of individuality and of “owning” their creations

But I also found this statement:

  • Moreover, digital stories are a natural fit for e-portfolios, allowing students not only to select representative artifacts from their academic careers but also to create compelling resources that demonstrate the student’s learning and growth.

Could helping the children to use digital storytelling in their wikis be a starting point for setting up their ePortfolios as described in my previous post?

I’ve also been looking at the ePearl Portfolio Project mentioned by David in a comment on that last post and now have usernames and passwords to check out their demo site. And today I’ve been checking out the UniServity website after being made aware of it via yet another blog comment. Both these projects look like they’re full of great ideas, but could a wiki serve the purpose just as well?

Next blog post pending …….

4 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling ….. and ePortfolios?

  1. The ‘vodcast’ activity is great on so many levels, lots of opportunity for co operation and contributions from all.

    I’d guess a wiki could be used for an ePortfolios their openended nature could be bent in many directions. A well tagged blog could be used too. Easy then to pull out all posts tagged Language or Science and see progression. I’ve seen various blogs with plugin combos set up for sites that are not straightforward blogs, it would be interesting to see how neat a fit you could get for a portfolio blog.

  2. Thanks for the comment, John.

    I hadn’t thought of using tags in blogs to set up the type of ePortfolio you suggest – although I still think that in the primary school, a wiki set-up might work better. Still contemplating!

    Tagging has been non-existent in my blogs, but your comment has made me have a think about how useful this is. I’ve already begun to add a ‘tag cloud’ and will make an effort to add to this in the future 🙂

  3. Have you seen the SCRAPBOOK portfolio website ? Could be useful.
    At the HMIE BITE conference in June, I was showcasing work, a Chief HMIE suggested that pupils take photos of their plans, research, models and solutions so when he turns up at school we have an online slideshow of evidence !

    Good idea, how do you get the pupils phone photos onto the school network ?

    I trialled bluetoothing HW quizzes form my teacher PC to pupils phones using bluetooth last year but it has issues.


    PS found it on GLOW, only a trial user so far

    • Thanks for the comment, Nick

      No – I haven’t heard of the SCRAPBOOK portfolio website … do you have a link to it that you could share? I have used scrapblog (make an online scrapbook), though. Is it the same thing? Here’s a link to an effort I made to share some old family photos

      I’d forgotten about that site – good potential!

      I’ve never tried to get phone photos on to the network at work – I’ll check with the tech experts 🙂

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