We were lucky enough to have Alan Levine (@cogdog) as a guest presenter in our EDCI569 course this past week. The focus of his presentation was on digital storytelling. I was definitely inspired to introduce some of the concepts he presented with my digital media class as I think it is the best fit given my current teaching load. I needed some space and time after the presentation to think about a reflective write and had a chance to get out on the snow (what’s left of it) and begin to think. I found myself trying to decide what storytelling is and decided I needed to research this first before reflecting on the process of digital storytelling.

Here are a few definitions of storytelling I found.

1. From the National Storytelling Network (http://www.storynet.org/resources/whatisstorytelling.html)

A. Storytelling is interactive.

B. Storytelling uses words.

C. Storytelling uses actions such as vocalization, physical movement and/or gesture.

D. Storytelling presents a story.

E. Storytelling encourages the active imagination of the listeners.

2. From Zidane.com (http://www.zideate.com/definition/162/storytelling)

“…illustrating an otherwise difficult concept, to drive home a point or to encourage consumer loyalty through entertainment or emotional connection.”

Historically, storytelling utilized verbal communication in order to present the message, but there are other forms of storytelling that have taken place. Although totem poles may not tell a story in the truest sense of the word, they are used by indigenous cultures to document stories and histories of community, family or clan members (Huang, 2009). Poles certainly fulfill some of the aspects of storytelling as they encourage imagination and present a story. Radio, although not interactive (audience and storyteller), the other components of storytelling remain intact.

“The medium is the message” – Marshall McLuhan  

The Marhall McLuhan quote does seem to usher in a new phase in the storytelling saga with the idea that the content of the story becomes secondary to the medium that presents it. With the advent of visual medium (tv, internet), many suggested that the medium transitioned storytelling towards pure entertainment. Arjun Adamson (2011) states that “Great storytelling is ultimately about capturing elegant context to the complexity and nuances of life”. Using Adamson’s summation of storytelling we can argue that any medium may create a strong story and that ultimately digital content may create a more compelling storytelling environment for the audience. Tingöy, et. al. (2006) explain that digital stories provide deep dimension to characters and insights by incorporating music, images and voice together. Helping students become media literate is also a benefit of digital storytelling (Tingöy, et. al., 2006). In our new digital age, what constitutes storytelling vs uploading moments in time. I would argue that storytelling must be thoughtful insights into our lives. Simply uploading a vine video does not necessarily tell a story, but if that upload has been developed to explain some greater meaning in our world in a contemplative manner then it would be defined as storytelling.

Alan Levine presented us with some concrete examples of what Digital Storytelling can be. I would classify some as re-telling and others as storytelling. The following are three examples that he has used, but many more can be found on http://ds106.us.

After reading a story, come up with 4 symbols that represent that story. Individuals that have read the story should be able to recognize the story based on the symbols you have used.

1. Using http://petchaflickr.net

The concept of petchaflickr is based on the petcha kucha presentation style that utilizes 20 seconds to present each of 20 slides. Petchaflickr is used to generate random images from a key word search of flickr.com (number of slides and slide interval can be manipulated) that you create a story from. The storyteller(s) have no knowledge of what images come up.

3. Silent Film

Take a film trailer and convert it into a silent film. The process makes the creator determine what components of the film can convey the meaning of the film without using any verbal narration.

Digital storytelling has altered the way we perceive the telling of stories, but the use of this medium has generated great educational tools. There are a number of easily accessible tools we can use. Our focus this week is to present a tool to our class. We need to demonstrate the pedagogical use of the tool. I have decided to use instagram and iMovie for iPhone to create a framework for digital storytelling. Use the @oblongsquare handle to view my digital story entitled Godfather pt1 in 15s. The framework is quite simple. Take a story you have read and break it down into 5 distinct sections. It took me about 10mins to do this stage. Determine an image or video 3 seconds in length that will represent each section. This took me a little longer, around 20 mins. Use your iPhone to take images or video for each section. I completed this in about 20 mins. Combine these photos and videos into a 15 second short in iMovie and export it. Upload the video to instagram and share it with the world!

Reference List

Adamson, A. (2011). What is great storytelling? Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/conversations/6249/what_is_great_storytelling.html

Huang, A. (2009). Totem Poles. Retrieved from http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/culture/totem-poles.html

Tingöy, Ö., Günefler, A., Öngün, E., Demirag, A., & Köroglu, O. (2006). Using storytelling in education. In 4th International Symposium of Interactive Media Design Proceedings (pp. 28-30).

Retrieved from: http://newmedia.yeditepe.edu.tr/pdfs/isimd_06/24.pdf