28 August 2011

Reflecting Digital Stories

Stop for a moment. Close your eyes (seriously) and think of what you do when you meet friends you haven't seen for a while. 

I don't know what you may do, but I certainly exchange stories, delighting in friends' adventures, mishaps and joyous encounters. Stories. Events of our daily lives which we can transfer to images and tales, creating rich stories to tell over and over again. Stories enrich our lives, reflecting human feelings, hope and aspirations. Stories are essential to one's sense of humanity. 

Taking a step back now, let's consider what happens on the web in 60 seconds. (published in early June 2011)

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

Notice the amount of writing, the amount of story telling, the amount of sharing. 60 seconds of humanity gone digital.

Learners too are reflected in that infographic though not necessarily highlighted. They are reflected in the sense that our students today engage, participate online as intensively and creatively as never before. The challenge of educators is to channel that interest and energy towards creative, collaborative learning opportunities.

TimeGlider is a web-based timeline creator which is great to generate stories. Regardless of what corner in the world you may be, there are stories to tell.  Through story telling and sharing hopefully, one makes a better sense of current events and our moment in world history. Two other tools to create timelines are Dipity and Tiki-toki.

Seeing that for many in the Northern Hemisphere the new academic year is beginning, setting students a project to work on now to present later in the term/semester, validates their time in creating a digital story with timelines.  An additional timeline maker is Preceden and also worth time having a look at.

Another interesting tool is MyPlick which is simple to use when sharing PowerPoint slides. MyPlick has a feature which adds audio and can be shared in a student's blog for instance. Getting students to learn digitally is not always as straight-forward as it may seem. In some parts of the world, the role of the teacher as the "giver of knowledge" is still very much alive. Learner autonomy is something that needs to be fostered and encouraged but one also needs to tread carefully as educational paradigms don't change overnight. I find that by using MyPlick, learners cross that paradigm shift with ease - on the one hand they are using PowerPoint (which so many use creatively and with confidence) and then sharing digitally. An additional bonus is that students can make their PPT (PowerPoint) at home and without a net connection - this is especially important if a school has firewalls or, in some places of the world where electricity has a tendency to switch off when one is working online.

Storie are for telling. Stories are for looking at.  With stories we visualize ideas and share them. Slatebox picks up on the idea of slates - slates with a digital twist. Rather than a wooden slate and chalk, Slatebox allows users to create beautiful visual ideas which can then be shared.

My stories. Your stories. We can share our stories more easily than ever before. Learners can share their voice through a myriad of tools and publications, learning from others, teaching others. Here  you can find a collection of free web tools which everyone can use to publish their projects and stories.  If you would like to read more about digital story telling, you can find a rich and enlightening portfolio here. Whether reflecting current events, visuals or stories of one's mind, there is so much wealth in story telling, that one cannot leave it out of classrooms.

Mirror mirror on the wall
What 's your bestest story of all?

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