Archive for January, 2005

30th January
written by Tom Banaszewski

I visited a charter school the other day, as part of my research on teachers using digital storytelling. For privacy reasons related to my thesis I can’t use the school’s actual name. I never knew anything about the International Review Board, but now can you tell that if you plan do any kind of research you need to follow their strict guidelines.

This school is part of the Gates Small High School Plan where each school caps its enrollment at 400. This particular school had a partnership with the local community technical college that allowed students as early as sophmore year to take college courses in the neighboring buildings. Most of the students graduated with at least 16 credits of college course work. I was very impressed with the school’s commitment to the students. From my brief conversation with the principal and guidance counselor, I got the sense that this is a very caring school with a sound educational philosophy.

I’ve kept a close eye on charter schools. It always seemed like those in the ranks of the public schools were just waiting for them to fail. What I didn’t like was how the politicians used them as a way to threaten the public schools, introducing competitive business practices into the already messed up public school system. The message was sent that if your school didn’t perform well on the standarized tests then you’re students will transfer to a charter school and you’ll receive less funds. A very odd idea: if you’re succeeding academically we’ll take more money away from you.

But as I start to think about where I’d like to return to teaching, a charter school with a technology and art focus may be the right fit for me.

As for the interview with the teachers from the school on their recent experience with digital storytelling, it was so helpful. I really like talking with teachers about their work, the challenges and successes. Nearly everything they shared with me, rang true with my research so far: kids love to express themselves with digital media, they need help structuring the story part of the project, literacy and technology can no longer be thought of as separate areas of preparing students for the future, and the impact of digital storytelling on group and individual identity within a learning environment is a huge part of why this is so important to schools. I can’t thank the teachers enough for their time and willingness to reflect on their teaching practice.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to make some progress soon on Where In the US is Digital Storytelling? so interested teachers can see who’s doing what in their area and find a way to connect. Maybe it’ll turn into a virtual community once I add in the interactive story practice for students and other resources for teachers using digital media in the classroom.

17th January
written by Tom Banaszewski

I had hit upon something really useful to blog about regarding research, but in between dinner and an episode of Law and Order it’s vanished from my radar. Today, I was on fire, writing and tracking down websites related to my thesis research. I think that my epiphany was that you really need to Google a variety of variations of your main topic. In my case, I’ve Googled ‘digital storytelling‘ dozens of times, along with ‘multimedia storytelling,’ ‘interactive storytelling,’ ‘digital narrative,’ ‘narrative technology,’ ‘storytelling technology,’ ‘storytelling in education,’ ‘storytelling tools,’ ‘storytelling technology,’ but I think that tonight I hit the jackpot – ‘digital media in education.’ It made so much sense once I followed a few resources. A perfect category for what digital storytelling would fall under, with regard to the proper educational context. And then of course, ‘digital storytelling in education‘ yielded resources I have not reviewed yet.

Earlier in the day(while watching my New England Patriots stomp the Colts), I had been compiling a list of software tools that support the core phases of a digital storytelling project. A major tenet of my thesis is that nearly all of the software tools for digital storytelling do next to nothing to support the hardest part – writing the story, structuring the basic story, figuring out what you want to say(not sure how to categorize this part). I plan to create a table of all the commercial software that targets students/novice multimedia producers. These are the basic stages of a creating a digital story, not necessarily followed strictly in this order:

  • Writing the story script
  • Locating, Creating, and Importing Media Elements – could call this Asset Acquisition?
  • Storyboarding
  • Recording the Voice Over
  • Text/Titling
  • Adding Effects, Transitions
  • Export story for sharing with audience

The major categories of software that support the above digital storytelling stages:

  • Multimedia Authoring
  • Screen Writing
  • Slideshow Creator
  • Audio Capture
  • Presentation
  • Animation
  • Multimedia Scrapbook *this may not be that relevant but it does provide digital story opps

Digital media production has always had professional level tools, such as Avid or Adobe Premiere, for  editing large video projects, but schools are now benefitting from the scaled down non-linear video editing programs aimed at the novice video editor. The ‘Multimedia Authoring’ category could be broken down into ‘Non-linear Video Editing’ as a specific category that makes a distinction between programs that have a timeline to construct your story along and programs line PowerPoint or HyperStudio that provide for an interactive digital story.

The major players in the digital storytelling in schools/educational multimedia producation market:

  • iMovie
  • Final Cut Express
  • Video Studio
  • MovieMaker
  • MovieWorks
  • VideoBlender, MediaBlender, ImageBlender
  • HyperStudio
  • Photo Story
  • Brain Glow
  • Quick Time Pro
  • eZedia