Tag Archives: flickr

Bringing Stories to Life – Digitally!

ds tools

Last week, I spent the majority of my #etmooc time trying new digital storytelling tools (GIFs, Flip Books, Visual Poetry5 Card Flickr) and posting about my explorations and learnings. This week, I wanted to hold off testing more tools (PopcornMaker, Inklewriter & Stop Motion are high on my list!) so I could take time to reflect on the concept of digital storytelling and consider the value of it in the classroom.

Over the past few years, as I’ve learned of new tools and experimented with ways to engage children and adult learners in digital storytelling, I have been impressed with the depth of expression I have seen. Digital storytelling seems to break down barriers (e.g., fears, time concerns, language) that often prevent people from engaging in tech use. Once people see how easy a tool like Voicethread or Storybird can be to use, they are excited to tell their own stories and to collaborate with others in creating.

I think our motivation for connectedness and the inherently personal nature of stories is why I find digital storytelling so powerful. Everyone has a story to tell and I love providing my students and teachers with tools to bring those stories to life.

Last week, when I was experimenting with different tools, I was caught up in the excitement and natural engagement that comes from active learning and discovery and the knowledge that I had the power to create and share something with the world. It’s empowering to have that “I can do this” moment and to be able to add a new tool to your toolbox, one that is fun to use and allows you to convey a story in just the right way (whether that’s through visuals, audio, text, or some combination).  I want all of my students to have those moments and realize that there is a large array of tools they can use to share their stories and they don’t all have to choose the same one.

As I thought about my explorations last week, I realized that another important factor motivating me to create and share was the knowledge that I was part of a community that was listening. I had an authentic audience that was waiting for stories just like mine and I was able to visit that community at any point to ask questions, find support, and learn from the stories everyone else was telling. I want to reflect more on the how valuable it is for our students to know they have an online community who is listening to them and willing to read their work and hear their stories. How can we cultivate that community for and with them? Certainly sites like Edmodo and hashtags like #Comments4Kids help but how can we ensure that our students aren’t sending meaningful projects and stories out into a silent and empty online space?

The benefits of incorporating digital storytelling in the classroom seem clear to me:

  • Learn how to communicate/tell stories through different media (e.g., video, dictation, writing, pictures)
  • Examine the value of different types of stories and storytelling methods (e.g., poetry, short stories, six word stories, picture stories)
  • Build an understanding of technology as a tool to create and tell stories
  • Provide opportunities for students to collaborate on stories
  • Explore the ability to tell the same story in a variety of ways
  • Identify ways that culture and context can affect a story and ways of telling a story
  • Practice creating stories to teach an idea or new concept to others
  • Gain comfort using, mixing, and re-mixing content and digital tools to create stories

I’m sure there are more but these seem like some of the core skills and understandings that can be acquired by incorporating digital storytelling in the classroom. They connect with the 21st Century Skills of communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking. These are also skills that will be valuable as students grow older and need to tell stories on college applications or to their employers. When you pitch a new product or propose a new scientific investigation, aren’t you telling a story? The more I think about it, the more invaluable (digital) storytelling seems to become given how much of our lives we spend telling stories, in one form or another.

With that in mind, I want to re-examine my own curriculum and consider how digital stories are already being incorporated and if there are more/better ways to integrate them into our classrooms. We have already created a number of digital stories this year but I want to keep pushing myself and my students’ to continue discovering, experimenting with, creating, and sharing digital stories. How are you using digital storytelling in education? 

Elmo Loves You - A Valentine Digital Story

A Digital Valentine Story

Image Credit: Sesame Street

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Picture Poetry – More #ETMOOC Digital Storytelling

After experimenting with the 5 Card Flickr Story this morning, I wanted to try another medium that would allow me to more easily integrate text and images. I was reminded of a free app I had downloaded quite a while ago but never fully explored: Visual Poet.

This app lets you choose three images from Flickr, Google, Tumblr or your own photo library. Once you select an image, you can decide what portion you want to include in your story and then you can tap and add text on top of the image. You can then add a title, auto-insert credits for the photos you use, and add some comments about your story. From the app you can publish directly to Tumblr or you can email the story. The app hasn’t received very good reviews so I’m not sure if it works well on every device but I didn’t have any problems when creating my stories.

I tested two different ways of using the app. First, similar to the 5 Card Flickr Story, I made a story with the first images that came up (See The Cottage below) with I went to search for images. This required some spontaneity and creativity but less reflection.

The Cottage

Then, I tried creating a story with more purpose and forethought. I searched specifically for images relating to ed tech to start my story and then for images that matched ideas relating to where I wanted my story to go (e.g., possibilities, perspective). I consciously sculpted my story, searching for images that I felt could convey the concepts I was looking for without narrowing my search by topic (I used the “Today’s Interesting Photos” option in the Flickr search). This broadened my photo selection to images that I might not have considered otherwise and prompted me to progress down new paths as I developed my story. At first, I imagined my story ending with something about collaboration or sharing but when I saw the camera image, I loved the idea of saying something about the importance of perspective. And so I ended up with a story about ed tech, one that I had a fuzzy idea of when I began and a different understand of when I finished.

Anything is Possible

Photo Attribution:
Original imagery for panel one by Anonymous/Unknown
Original imagery for panel two by Neighya (Elné)
Original imagery for panel three by danska8

Has anyone else used Visual Poet for digital storytelling? What do you think of this method/medium?