16 February 2016

Storytelling with Avatars and Timelines


photo credit: Commedia dell'Arte via photopin (license)


Identity. Who one is, who one wishes to be, who one once was. 

In the digital world, as is well known, one may morph into different characters, taking on different identities in a variety of games and role-plays.  In the classroom, however, educators can extend this role play by asking learners to create an avatar to upload to their student profile. Not only does this bring a lightness to a lesson but also provides learners the opportunity to understand that by exploring an app (for instance), the same skills of learning how to read and follow instructions, will apply to other less playful learning activities. 

MomentCam is a free app for both iOS and Android, allowing the user to create different kinds of avatars for both male and female characters. Below are some examples based on a real photo of mine which I turned into a cartoon:

As I currently work with female students who do not publish their personal photos publicly, I tried out some other features of this app - features include changing hair style, clothing, adjusting facial expressions and backgrounds. The example below included a background from my own images and then I included the sun in the lower right image. 


Here on the left, you can see how there is a choice of hairstyles, background settings and even facial expressions. (further below you can find an example of a GIF also created with this app). 

Avatars may express a lighthearted side to one's identity but also  can be used for creating characters in storytelling. For example, in a language class, students can create stories with their characters by posting them on a Padlet and writing their storyboard. An activity such as this one can be done in pairs or in a small group. Not only are they actively using the target language but also learning how to work in teams and collaborating with each other. Activities such as these offer both practice in digital literacies as well as creativity and personalisation in the classroom, as students take more control of what they wish to express and how they want to express their stories. 

Another tool that has recently caught my attention is line.do . line.do is free and offers a particular feature which I really like - the possibility of using another language other than English. 

Timelines are great for history, current affairs but also for storytelling and sharing images as in the example below:



Learners can then share through different social media and embed in their personal or class blog. line.do  also includes an editor's pick,  which timelines are trending and categories  of timelines;  so there are plenty of examples to get students inspired by the different ways a timeline can be designed.

As in the example above, timelines don't always have to include text; the focus can be on the image  only. This format lends itself to practicing presentations without bullet points and reams of text. The focus is on the story, on the telling of the story.

Besides text and images, you can also include links as in the example below:





Below is a visual describing the digital storytelling process:


Created by toniamcm on ThinkLink


How will you be telling stories this Spring?

The Life of Death from Marsha Onderstijn on Vimeo.


Further Suggestions: 


The Power of Digital Story

Storytelling - Resources

How digital publishing is changing the face of storytelling

Ideas for Using iPads for Digital Storytelling

8 Steps To Great Digital Storytelling

Get Started with Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling 


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