Digital Storytelling (Brent Fleisher)

Digital Storytelling seems to have originated at the University of Mary Washington.  As an English teacher, I was drawn to the thought idea of “story telling” and how I could translate and incorporate that into my classroom —  wouldn’t it be neat for students to their stories digitally in connection with a story they have read/analyzed in class (or, create a story for a character to tell digitally?).  For students, the supply list is pretty simple: computer, internet, and a willingness to move out of one’s comfort zone.   I also like this because it allows students to develop their technological and creative thinking skills without making it seem like “work.”  This seems to work in tandem with the idea of Distance Learning in that students are their own teacher / creator and have a lot of autonomy to “play.”  Lastly, students seem more willing and eager to share their stories/experiences/life/etc online than in an actual face-to-face discussion or classroom.  Digital Storytelling would allow students to communicate more freely and possibly break some barriers that they feel are in front of them.

I did; however, find odd the fact that students can come and go as they please… I would think there would be a set time frame for the course with the expectation that you stay for a certain amount of time so you could “get something” out of it.   Also, if students feel their work isn’t “good enough” or students aren’t “creative” enough, I can see them struggling.

In the English classroom, I could Digital Storytelling as an analysis tool for the literature we read.  Instead of simply asking students questions about a character, or having them discuss their inferences, students could create a Digital Story for their character and complete an analysis that way.   This would also allow for students to “get to know their character” on a deeper level.  Instead of simple (ha!) analysis, students can take a look at what is going on with the character in the novel and, using that information with their own inferences, create a backstory for their character explaining why they are the way they are.  Since these Digital Stories are told orally, there is that connection as well to how stories were originally shared.  Or I could be completely off — who knows!

4 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling (Brent Fleisher)”

  1. I think there could some interesting cross over activities between history and English with the digital story telling piece– extending Scarlet Letter, a modern death 1984— I love it and kids seem to also love it when they have that Aha moment seeing information/concepts move from one class into another– it makes we wonder how many more of these we could have/allow with students extending themselves into the digital world to apply/extend their knowledge?

  2. Wow! What an interesting twist – collaborate across curriculum using digital storytelling. Now that would make a great online project – combine history and english? What do you think? I have 7th and 8th graders animate something they have learned in a core class during the year and some of them even go as far as to include an animation of their teacher – I love it. The 7th graders have to take the lesson they’ve learned and make it into a fairytale – always gets interesting!

  3. I have to agree, I love this idea! This is the first I’ve heard of “digital story telling”. As Brent stated I think it would be an effective alternative to simply “asking” students questions. I think we could certainly implement this in the history classroom after presenting a general topic. We often consider lessons in history “stories” and this would be a way for students to explain major players, their roles and their effects on the outcome of certain events. I also agree with Brooks Ann, I think this could set us up for the opportunity to engage students in cross-curricular activities.

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