Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Magic of Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling! How I love thee, let me count the ways. Yes, I am blog reading, again. Here’s a post that definitely got my attention. Alix Peshette, in her blog EdTech Gold Rush writes about the power of digital storytelling. There are so many points I find interesting in her discussion about her recent research (and grant proposal) using digital storytelling with Special Education students, but here’s what got my attention.

"Everything I read or see about 21st century learners speaks about their engagement through digital learning. What goes on in most classrooms are teaching styles that rely on textbooks, lectures and multiple choice tests.

A blinding flash of the obvious is that most school board members and district-level administrators have not been in the classroom (as students or teachers) since the advent of the Internet. They can mouth the words about the importance of technology, but deep down, they just don’t get it. They haven’t seen the engagement that comes from letting our students work in a modality that is second nature to them."

Because I chose this particular excerpt from her post, you may be thinking I am going to "go off" on administrators. Not at all! Remove any negative connotations you may interpret – for example, “They can mouth the words . . .” Replace that with, "They can blindly support . . ." Replace "They haven’t seen the engagement . . . " with "They aren’t lucky enough to participate in learning at this level. " See where I’m going with this? No, the administrators aren’t "there" where the classroom teachers are – teachers and administrators are doing different jobs. It’s as it should be.

Okay, so how do we communicate? Alix talks about a project she did as part of the grant working with 4th and 5th graders using
PhotoStory3 (free!).

"In the space of five minutes, as each 4th grader recorded their voice and then listened to it, magic happened. The excitement rose, smiles were wide and friends were listening to each other’s recordings. All this with three-dollar microphones and free software!"

I think administrators get magic.

We offer several classes using free tools that lend themselves to digital storytelling, such as Digital Picture Projects which uses VoiceThread and PhotoStory 3 and Developing Mulitmedia which uses MovieMaker. In fact, much of what we do on the
Eighth Floor is all about helping teachers make the magic happen. I’m just sayin’.

Here’s my suggestion: of course we want you to come up for classes, but more importantly, why don’t you come with your administrators or with your teachers (who you bring depends on what you do – see how that works?). Be the team that makes the magic.


Lee Anne

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