Archive for May, 2009

6th May
written by Tom Banaszewski

It's a new season so that must mean it's time for me to post to my blog. It's not that I don't have a lot to say. I'd just rather be doing other things than sitting in front of my computer. I have much to say about digital storytelling and using technology effectively in educational settings. A few weeks ago, my school was fortunate to bring Scott McCloud to speak about his work in comics. If you have not seen his TED talk, grab something to eat and plop yourself down in front of your computer for twenty minutes of the best live digital storytelling I've seen since Dana Atchley's Next Exit performance. Scott uses only a series of slides behind him to help him tell the story of his life in comics, but he really makes it compelling by his choice of images and the pace at which he uses them. My head is still swimming with ideas from his talk. I had so many students and teachers tell me afterwards that his presentation was the most enjoyable they've seen in all of the Powerpoints they've been subjected to over the years.

Since Scott's talk I've been thinking a lot about tools and online resources to help teachers and students tell an effective story. It's been almost five years since I finished my thesis on digital storytelling in the classroom and I still contend that if we expect students and teachers to use technology effectively we need to teach them HOW to tell a good story. Not so much the ability to tell a good oral story, but how to select and combine images, text and audio that effectively conveys their message.

I'm embarrassed that most of the links on the right side of this blog are probably obsolete. I haven't updated them in years. But that will change soon. I've set out to find the best tools/resources online that teach story. I'm casting the net wide and looking at everything from radio (NPR) to comics sites, such as Scott's. There are many places on the web you can watch, listen, read and even create a story, but there's still very few places that have the specific purpose of helping teachers teach story. And I'm not just talking about teaching traditional storytelling. We have drifted far from our ability to relate information in an engaging way. Maybe that's why I don't blog frequently. I'm skeptical that it's that effective of a tool. It's definitely much better than Twitter or Facebook. At least that's where I'm at currently in my opinions on social networking tools.

So send your sites my way. Where on the web can we point teachers and students to for help in improving their story skills?