Digital Storytelling

A reflection on a course review

I found this draft when writing my latest post about E-Learning development with Adobe Captivate. It must be roughly three years old. For the published version, I kept it the way it was. All my original thoughts are highlighted as quotes, wheras my reflections are written in the usual paragraph style.

Two weeks ago I signed in for the Coursera course „Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling“ (University of Houston System). Usually, that would not be worth a blog post. I have signed up for so many courses, started with the first week, thought that it did not really covered the topic I wanted to know more about and then just followed the course irregularly or came back to the course pages after it has ended already.

Still today, I enroll for a lot of online and distance courses. But I have become better in deciding before enrolling if I have the resouces to complete the course. A great learning and I would say my individual completion rates have increased.

This course is about creating one’s own digital story about a freely chosen topic (the introducing descriptions focusses on K-12 environments). My intention was to become familiar with technology, that could be used for this purpose. I didn’t want to make the content of the story too complex but more focus on the realization.

Parallelly I was working on the Classics seminar about Skinner’s „The Technology of Teaching“. I’ve heard about Skinner in an Introduction course to Psychology and it was the first time for my that I was really interested to find out more about his scientific methods, research results and life by myself. That was kind of a strange feeling. It is still my Master’s programme but I didn’t know this feeling of being really interested in something that you do for you studies. (That was also the moment, when I realized that I chose the right Master’s programme for me.

So where does it all come together now?

What if I would try to create a digital story about what I have learned so far about Behaviorism and Information Technology? I thought about it for a while, because obviously digitial storytelling has to be very straight to the point – you do not have a lot of time (5 – max. 10 minutes). At the same time my ability to write summaries on the most important points is not one of my strenghts. It is hard for me sometimes to focus on the main ideas. 10 minutes of consideration later, the challenge was accepted.

It’s really interesting to see, that I still work in the same way today. I try to combine relevant tools and apply them to actual challenges I am working on. During my studies I focussed on university assignments, today I use cases from my daily work live.
How the course works (a schedule)
The course consists of five weeks – each one dedicated to a particular focus topics. Right now I am in Week 3, which means, I already chose a topic and created the first draft of my story board.
Week 1: Choosing a topic and a focus
Week 2: Writing a script and creating a story board
Week 3: Recording audio narration
Week 4: Using technology to build a digital story
Week 5: Revising, publishing and sharing the final digital story for use in the classroom
What you can see from this is, that I will constantly work on my first draft to improve it. There was storyboardthat.com mentioned/recommended to use for creating the story board. So I gave it a try. All my previous work can be found on my wiki page (here is where I will revise my drafts and story the final versions as well).
I was checking my storyboardthat account and found back the storyboard I was working on during the course. Unfortunately I am not sure if this is the final version, as can not find back my course details on Coursera.
Storyboard
My course work for the digital storytelling class created with Storyboard That.
When it comes to the wiki page mentioned, I do not use it any longer. The Classics seminar I was using this storyboard for resulted in a Prezi which we used along with some interactive exercises for our presentation.
I am not quite satisfied with storyboard that. There a three reasons why and they are all connected to the fact, that I am/was using a free trial version. With this you are limited to
  • use six „slides“ only,
  • use the pictures which are offered by the webpage (you are not allowed to upload your own pictures)
  • and finally you (as long as you do not embed the storyboard) you can not use the images without the watermark.

There are two more reasons why storyboard that did not convince me, which are not connected to the acoount type.

  • You can not add a descriptive text somewhere (this is why my slides explanations are way to large and somehow ruin the appearance of the single slides)
  • Text as part of the images is being recocknised and summarised as the storyboard text but as it is directly connected to the text on the slides, you can not modify this text
  • I am not quite sure, if I would be allowed to use these images in my digital story. My idea was to convert them into a slideshow and add sound and narration. But I have to find out, if this can be done with the slides created on storyboard that. (This would not change the fact that I would be limited to 6 slides [if I did not create a new storyboard] and that the watermark would be still in the slides, as they are not embedded anymore).

A quite good summary of my thoughts when I was going back to check storyboardthat as a tool for E-Learning storyboards. I believe, other tools (such as Adobe Captivate Draft) respond to these challenges more properly and I will look into this for my future e-learning projects.

What next?

I will use my wiki page to work on my draft. My idea is to use it as a guideline and create my slides by using images without copyright restrictions from google or other open sources. I am very curious about the tools in Week 4 and how to work on the realization of my script. In fact, it is impressive not to start with technologies that could be used. Without a good story there will never be a digital story – one if the things, the responsible professor mentioned in Week 1. So, for me this week will be dedicated to work on my narration and find a way how to present my script in a more suitable manner than storyboard that. It was good to give it a try but in the end it was not the right tool for me.

My takehome message

For me this is again more then writing about an online course. It is one of the steps in my progress to work on my goals.

  • Using more technology and evaluate how this worked for me.
  • Constantly work on improving what I have been doing so far.

I already noticed that I am improving in both areas. For the seminar tomorrow we are using a range of different technologies that fit (in my opinion) perfectly together. So I am excited how my peers will take this approach of conducting a seminar.

Also, my way of writing this blog has changed a bit. Whereas in the beginning I had to write a post „all of a piece“, I now take more time, revise it several times and then release it. It would be useful to get more feedback on my posts. I really do appreciate the input I got so far – and I am optimistic that I will get more of these valuable observations/evaluations.

Impressive how I would not change this text from today’s perspective, especially when it comes to the conclusion. As I said, I never really continued my wiki page, but I created some mind maps to grasp a bit better the idea of learning theorys and the interconnection of learning and technology. Two examples can be found here and here.

2 Gedanken zu “Digital Storytelling

  1. […] Eine Übersicht verschiedener Storyboard Tools gibt es hier, Adobe bietet aber auch selbst ein Tool dafür an. Ich persönlich habe vor einer Weile mit Storyboardthat gearbeitet, hier mein erstes und mein zweites Beispiel wie so etwas am Ende aussehen kann. Außerdem bin ich zu dem Schluss gekommen, das Storyboardthat nicht das optimale Werkzeug für meine… […]

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