Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reflecting on Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

My Digital Media Production and Digital Storytelling class is currently reading Digital Storytelling in the Classroom by Jason Ohler. This book has given me such a new appreciation for the power of stories. Stories are so powerful and hold so much of who we are inside of them; perhaps that's why I've always been so drawn to them. I want my students view their stories as valuable; to me, their peers, to their community and to themselves. The reading I've done so far makes me feel as though my previous attempts at storytelling have been so lazy, "shooting from the hip" as Ohler puts it. I will admit it: I am not a fan of storyboarding; it is really time-consuming. So when I get the chance, I skip right to the production aspect of storytelling but now I'm realizing what a mistake that is because I run the risk of losing my story and not accomplishing what I set out to. How much better could a story be shaped if I sat and asked myself "Where am I going and what steps do I need to take to get there?"

The section on music hit me hard because over-reliance on it allows someone else to take over your story so then you're basically telling their story and not your own.  There are so many elements to consider in telling a digital story and I can see why some people take the "easy" way out and allow media tools to carry the story. The idea of applying critical thinking to digital storytelling doesn't sit well with me. I think that stories should be works of art and beauty and I'm not comfortable with the idea of them being dissected. Will it lose its power and its beauty by doing so? My class hasn't had a chance to discuss this yet but I'm eager to see what my classmates have to say about it. Maybe I'm missing something or they could shed light on this topic.


  1. I agree that once you have learned and watched other DST it opens many possibilities. I now feel more confident about my ability to teach my students how to execute a DST project and they can determine the level of sophistication.

  2. Hi, Priscilla. I am no fan of story boarding either and rarely use them. What I prefer to use are two particular tools: 1) story mapping, to make sure the key emotional elements of a story are present which is covered in my book; and 2) story tables, which I discovered right after my book went to the publisher. They accomplish much of what storyboards do, but are much easier to use. You can read about it here:

  3. Priscilla, I think that I'm back and forth with story-boarding depending on the story and the message that is being conveyed. I once began writing a work of fiction and actually got over 300 pages written before I stopped and considered that although I knew the story, I was going to miss out on all of the nuances that would really make it a great story. Years later it is still shelved but I was able to go back a write notes to help me get back into it. In this instance, a story board would have been invaluable and from my experience much easier before hand. I would say that anything over four or five minutes some sort of story board would be invaluable so that the nuance I mentioned are not missed.

    As far as 'dissecting' your DST, I think it can be a great asset especially for classes who are learning how to use them. I terms of the story itself, I suppose at a glance I think that if someone were willing to look that closely at my DST, than I would be flattered that it had such an impact on them. (Of course, my two sense os only worth two sense)