How would you imagine the world without stories? We lost the record from the past, events happened in the present world, even the prediction about the future. Actually, storytelling is a part of what makes us human and it is very old since the dawn of man. In the web 2.0 time, storytelling has developed into a new way combined with technology — digital storytelling. Its appearance can be traced back to the 1980s when it was proposed by Dana Atchley. Generally speaking, digital storytelling is a way to tell a story with multimodal technology tools, including resources such as pictures, sound, video and so on. The greatest difference between traditional storytelling and digital storytelling is their modes of presentation, which have changed from only verbal form to the combination of verbal and visual. Here is an example to help you understand digital storytelling.
This article (Bull & Kajder, 2004) demonstrates that the Internet and digital cameras make it possible to connect the classroom with the world, for example, through digital storytelling, which consists of a series of still images combined with a narrated soundtrack to tell a story. Students can create digital stories with Movie Maker tools, such as Windows XP and iMovie, and the ubiquitous presence of digital cameras and digital images. But the focus of a digital story should be on the writing and communication process rather than technical effects. Lambert (2003) identifies seven elements of effective digital stories:
- A point of view
Use the first-person pronoun “I” rather than the third-person point of view to construct the stories from your own experience and understanding.
- A dramatic question
Engage audience in a compelling question and resolve the question by the end of the story.
- Emotional content
Evoke an emotion from the audience.
Limit the scope of the digital story to make the construction process manageable and make it practical for audience to view the stories of an entire class in a single session.
Allow a natural pace and varied flow when the digital story is constructed.
- The gift of your voice
Use your own voice to tell your story to contribute to the effectiveness of a digital story.
- Accompanying soundtrack
Incorporate the properly employed music to enhance and underscore the story, and pay attention to the music copyright.
The former four elements focus on the phases of writing, students draft and revise scripts and design storyboards, and the latter three on construction, students use a digital video editor to construct the story.
This is the screenshot from the example of the digital story we give above.
Because digital storytelling is still a new way of expressing, it is not easy to manage in the traditional class. Some teachers who are unfamiliar with electronic writing tools may be confused about how to conduct the invaluable means of expression in class. Therefore, adapting these methods to the classroom requires some thought. In the class, there are two constraints including limited class time and access to technology. As a result, digital storytelling can cater for a small class with around 20 people and computers are essential.
According to the article, there are some tips and a particular sequence of steps to follow.
- Write an initial script.
- Plan an accompanying storyboard.
- Discuss and revise the script.
- Sequence the images in the video editor.
- Add the narrative track.
- Add special effects and transitions.
- Add a soundtrack if time permits.
Digital storytelling is a special and new technology for several reasons. Readers and writers can find an authentic means of expression. Although there exist some challenges, they might be manageable with proper planning.
- We welcome you to share similar experience about digital storytelling in your language learning.
- We would like to know how would you evaluate the use of digital storytelling in the classroom?
- Would you like to use it in your future teaching?
(Edited by Danella, Lavinia, Grace)