I must begin by letting you all know that digital storytelling is really the project that began my journey to school librarianship. When I was an undergrad at UNCW, I was asked to work on an interdisciplinary program called “Reel Girls” that planned a two-day workshop for middle schools girls to make video self-portraits. Between a handful of Women’s Studies, Sociology, and Film Studies faculty and students, the semester-long process of brainstorming, gaining video and editing skills, curriculum development, and the workshop itself, this project was an enlightening and transformative process. For me, it informed my later graduate research and project which used video interviews to explore gendered relationships. All that being said – I am a firm believer that we learn through stories, and that digital stories can be a strong vehicle for education and change.
A few of the tools in our Sandbox for this week I have used before in my Instructional Technology class last fall (Animoto, Powtoon). A few of the tools I have been on the receiving end of (Jing), and a few were new to me (Wideo, Sharalike, Pixiclip).
The one I was most inspired by was Sharalike. While I understand concerns about the limitations, I am also impressed by the ease of use. For younger students, this is ideal. You upload pictures, you choose music, you have a professional looking slideshow. As a history/art history nerd, I immediately thought about how you could tell the story of a historical event/figure with pictures and/or videos. Something about moving images makes stories come to life, so I think this would be an engaging tool, as well as an engaging product. This slideshow set-up is also an easy way to show transformation or progression, whether that’s through a group project, something they are building, etc. This is a overarching theme in many of our SOLs – change over time. I plan to use Sharalike to document my time at the ALA Convention this weekend (meaning my video will be a little late…but super fun!).
I poked around Wideo and Pixiclip, and felt somehow less connected with their platforms. First of all, my pixiclip came out ridiculous looking (I’m too ashamed to link it here). I think there is a skill level that is required that is beyond me. A classmate of mine uploaded a floor plan and explained changes in her library, which I thought was a genius use of this tool. I can also see this used for math and science courses, explaining causative relationship or demonstrating ways to problem-solve. Wideo is very professional-looking, and struck me as a moving infographic. However, I had the same sensation I do with stationary infographics – info overload. They convey so much information at once, all I can think is – do people just watch this over and over and take notes?
My experience with Animoto and Powtoon was different because they came across more as storytelling devices. I love the idea of working with students to produce something that is their own story. In my mind, this is democratic participation in a media-saturated world. My Animoto video from my prior class was assigned to be an introduction video, which I think would work for teachers AND students. Animoto is quite similar to Sharable, but with more creative options. Mine has a huge watermark across it, but I see that they have made it smaller and put it in the corner for those of us that are using it for free.
Powtoon would be fun for students who are into animation, but perhaps don’t have the skill set yet to start from scratch. It is a great story telling device, and offers an impressive array of options for free. My Powtoon video was on Digital Citizenship, and you will notice that it shares an idea rather than inundating the audience with facts and figures. Hope you enjoy it!