Digital storytelling is a powerful narrative form for imagining, analyzing, and informing that typically combines images, text, recorded audio, video clips, and music. The educational uses are many.
As Bryan Alexander says, storytelling just might be the most important cognitive tool of the 21st century.
This panel discussion at the LACOL2017 workshop highlighted how faculty and students at liberal arts colleges are using media-rich storytelling to spark creative expression in teaching, learning and research.
Over fall break, a dedicated group of students and faculty at Haverford College spent three days developing their own digital stories, bringing together traditional storytelling and modern multimedia production. The experience was jointly sponsored by the President’s Office initiative on Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Academic Resources and Instructional Technology Services as a way to illuminate personal stories that reflect many campus perspectives. Each participant arrived to the workshop with at least one story that they planned to explore over the course of the workshop. Their task was to create a 3-5 minute video which featured a recorded voice-over and personally curated still imagery.
To begin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Nimisha Ladva led a group discussion on various story arcs and how change agents can affect characters to ultimately provide some form of realization or epiphany. Breakout groups were formed in order to share stories and provide critical feedback. As one student reflected,
Sharing the story in groups and getting feedback were good experiences, and also were helpful to articulate my thoughts and elaborate my story. Also, I really liked the workshop’s small, relaxing community.
As the workshop progressed, Digital Media Specialist Charles Woodard and Instructional Technology Specialist Alexander Savoth guided the group as they assembled images and recorded their voice-overs using a suite of tools including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere and Audacity. Images were laid into a timeline in Adobe Premiere, synched to their recorded voice-over and keyframed to add the illusion of motion. Participants shared their work and received very positive feedback in a screening held on campus three weeks following the workshop. Students also shared reflections on the experience which are detailed on Haverford’s Instructional Technology Blog.
Following discussions and collaborations mostly via Zoom in the fall of 2015, Mark Andrews, Baynard Bailey, Thomas Parker of Vassar College and Virginie Pouzet-Duzer of Pomona College are looking for new LACOL partners who would be interested in adding a digital storytelling element to their fourth semester French classroom.
French Digital Storybook created by Vassar students Rafaela Vega del Castillo, Rose Clarfeld & David Sparks.
The current project started at Vassar College when Susan Hiner (Dept. French and Francophone Studies) received a grant to create a course for teaching intermediate French based on authentic French and Francophone story books.
The premise is that during the semester students learn French in the same way a Francophone child would through authenticate cultural material. During the semester, students “grow up,” beginning with illustrated nursery rhymes, songs, fairy tales, myths, and fables then short stories, bandes dessinées, animated movies, and concluding with adolescent literature.
Attached to these texts, the course proposes grammar and writing exercises combined with interpretative and creative exercises, all launched through a digital platform. Most importantly, the course features a student-authored semester-long storybook that students write, illustrate, animate, and narrate in French on a digital platform.
The course has been through several iterations as part of a collaborative effort in Vassar’s FFS department, primarily between Susan Hiner, Mark Andrews, and myself, Thomas Parker, with the active involvement of a succession of French Language Fellows (visiting French assistants). We have been having much success with students who adore the creative element of the course (the book writing), the strong visual emphasis and engaging content of the authentic source material (children’s books), and the different elements and non-traditional pedagogical strategies it provides.
For the technology aspect, we’ve worked closely an instructional technologist – Baynard Bailey. He works with the students to help them to construct their storybooks in Final Cut Pro X. Most students make illustrations by hand, scan them and then import the images into their digital books. Students then record their voiceovers, adding sound effects, music and animation to complement their stories. The videos are exported and uploaded to YouTube, and the scripts go into the closed captions. We’ve refined the process over the years and the evolution of the student work can be seen at http://pages.vassar.edu/ffs-digital-storytelling.
Now we are seeking partners and support to improve the course with colleagues. Our first partner is Virginie Pouzet-Duzer at Pomona College. In the fall of 2016, she is planning to incorporate several features from our version of French 206 into her French 44. She is going to keep the focus on fairy tales, but her syllabus partially let go of the texts originally aimed at a younger audience. Also, she is planning on adding a remote presentation of the final projects, having students from Pomona and Vassar share with each others using Skype or Zoom. (more…)