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Review of StoryKit

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  • 1. Available online at www.jmle.org The National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Journal of Media Literacy Education 2:2 (2010) 177 - 180 Professional Resource: StoryKit (2009) Erin Reilly Institute for Multimedia Literacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USAStoryKit. iPhone application. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8 This past July, Newsweek’s article, The Cre-ativity Crisis, shared with the general public that cre-ativity in America is on the decline. Authors Po Bron-son and Ashley Merryman share that researcher KyungHee Kim at the College of William & Mary has foundthat creativity scores were steadily on the rise until1990. Though too early to determine why, one hypoth-esis they share is “the number of hours kids now spendin front of the TV and playing videogames rather than Before we started our road trip, I decided to purchase theengaging in creative activities.” However, this draws new iPhone and download all the different applicationsa line of distinction that doesn’t show the creative op- people had recommended to me throughout the year.portunities digital media offer to children. One of the suggested apps was StoryKit created by the This distinction pushes forward that we are con- International Children’s Digital Library. StoryKit http://sumers of media rather than producers. As parents and itunes.apple.com/us/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8educators, we do our children a disservice if we only is a free application for either the iPhone, iTouch or iPaduse the media as the babysitter or the distraction and we for children to read, remix and create their own stories.help to spread a negative outlook on the uses of media Though it comes with some classic books for children torather than the promises it holds for encouraging cre- read, like Humpty Dumpty and Three Little Pigs – whatativity in our children. As a parent and educator, I want gravitates me toward this application is the simple abil-to share with you some simple ways for you to engage ity for kids to create and remix their own stories. Thechildren with media creatively. authoring tools available within StoryKit are not limited My family moved from Boston to Los Angeles to traditional text, but allow children to author their sto-this summer. We wanted our son Ocean to experience a ry using various modalities including taking or loadingpiece of American history rather than just reading about pictures, creating drawings and recording sounds.it in books. And that is just what we did as we stopped Get Started Usin g StoryKitat many attractions, starting (as many Americans do) at StoryK it is avai lable for u se onthe Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, then on to making •our own chocolate at Hershey, Pennsylvania and ridingup to the top of the St. Louis’s arch to see the expan-sive plains of the west. Pretending like we were JesseJames, we hid in the Merramac Caves, the PetrifiedForest had us observing green collard lizards lazing onthe rocks and we were transfixed watching the magic ofthe sunset over Grand Canyon.
  • 2. 178 E. Reilly / Journal of Media Literacy Education 2:2 (2010) 177 - 180 I have always been drawn to super-heroes, from What is your super-hero name?being obsessed with Wonder Woman as a child, to hav- What do you look like?ing my mother (who was an English Teacher) tell vivid What are your powers?adventure stories of Odysseus at bedtime, to standing Would you use your powers for good or evil?in the long ticket line to see the first Star Wars movie. This type of learning also fosters a creative learner.I have passed this love for the “Hero’s Journey” on to Ocean tinkers as he processes his ideas, which allowsmy son, Ocean. And often, we spend hours talking at for a visibility of intention through choosing the form,length about super-heroes, and spending time in the car color and technique he will tell his story, as well asduring our trip was no exception. It actually gave me mastering new digital skills and techniques throughtime to encourage him to not only create in his mind play (Lindstrom 2006).these super-heroes and phenomenal stories but to final- I could have just handed him the iPhone to playly write them into being using StoryKit as his creative with as a distraction during our trip, but instead I usedtool. this time to connect our in-depth reflections of super- heroes to his creative process and encouraged him to Get St arted Us ing Story K it record it into StoryKit. Here is the adventure of Mon- Launc h the app and choos e ei ther ster Super-Hero, Queen Bubbles and Night Hawk that Re ad, E dit or Shar e to b eg in. • Read allows you to choose o ne of he was able to share immediately with friends and fam- the books on your books helf. • ily. Edit encoura ges you to author your own book or t ake o ne of th e Ocean Saves the Day (http://iphone.childrenslibrary.org/cgi-bin/ • exist in g book s and remi x it by view.py?b=us2n7xzxmmmme43zaear) ad ding your own text, i m ag es or sou nds to th e story. By Ocean Reilly Share your book once your don e creati ng it by post ing it to the • websit e or shari ng it wi th fri ends an d family to th eir emai l addr ess es. During his play, Ocean practiced the new medialiteracies, performance (the ability to adopt alternativeidentities for the purpose of improvisation and discov-ery) and distributed cognition (the ability to interactmeaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities),while enabling design thinking into our playtime by en-couraging Ocean to observe, brainstorm, create charac-ters, develop a story, and build his narrative. Fostering the new media literacies allows usto think in very different ways about the processes oflearning, because they acknowledge a shift from thetop-down model to one that invokes all voices and allmeans of thinking and creating to build new knowledge.Buckingham (2008) writes, “[technology] has producednew styles of playful learning, which go beyond theteacher-dominated, authoritarian approach of old styleeducation. It is creating new competencies or forms of‘literacy’, which require and produce new intellectualpowers, and even ‘more complex brain structures’” (13-14). Our brainstorming involved having each of us(including my husband with Ocean posing questions tohim through the walkie-talkie since he was driving ourother car) answer the following questions …
  • 3. 179 E. Reilly / Journal of Media Literacy Education 2:2 (2010) 177 - 180 Though I love all the latest technology available •Drawto us today, I’m not a proponent of tuning out each •Tell a storyother on long stretches of road. Ocean’s time was not •Animatespent just watching DVD’s and playing video games •Make a videoor listening to his iPod through headphones. We spent •Create a characterthe hours in character development, story line, and •Mix musiccollaboration. StoryKit enabled a six year old to create •Design solutions to problemsand communicate his ideas on his level. After all, the •Open-ended stories that encourage choice for yourpoint of a road trip is time spent together in the car and childthat is the time I’ll remember most. • Encourage divergent and convergent thinking The combination of Ocean’s passion for skillssuperheroes and playing with creative technologyoffered a “motivated interest” (Kress 2009) experience The Joan Ganz Cooney Research Center haswhich structured Ocean’s attention, his interpretation, developed Kids Creativity Tools (LINK) and offersand engagement with and across media. This interest applications that foster creative learning for web,also drives children’s multimodal meaning making. mobile, computer and console platforms. We need Kress has argued extensively that children a better understanding of the types of activities thatare fundamentally dispositioned towards multimodal foster children’s creativity, which features of theirforms of meaning making (Kress 2009). StoryKit creative process demonstrate learning and whichoffered Ocean multiple modes of sensory engagement features of digital media are best suited to deliver thoseto tell his story. Ocean is a very avid reader, but at six experiences. Don’t think of creativity and technologyhe is still learning how to phonetically sound out words in opposition of each other, but seek out digital mediaand spell them. StoryKit didn’t just offer a text tool, that uses both to motivate a child’s learning.but also included a drawing, audio, and image tools,which ensured that the tool supported his storytellinginstead of preventing him from telling his story throughtraditional means. There are many different ways StoryKitcan be used for creative learning. Other examplesinclude interviewing a relative, such as having yourchild collaborate with a grandparent in developingan interactive family history, or having your studentsdevelop a journalistic report during a field trip , allowingthem to capture information, edit, and refine their workimmediately. Since StoryKit is a mobile application, itallows the flexibility to create anywhere. With children older than 8 spending an averageof about 10.5 hours a day using media outside school,we must meet children where they are in order toconvert couch time at home and seat time at school intocreative learning time (Generation M2: Media in theLives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds). You don’t need to be driving cross-countryto bring creative learning to your own super-hero.My hope is that this engages you to see the benefitsof using tools that encourage authorship, rather thandownloading applications of passive entertainmentmerely for distraction. Features to look for in otherapplications include the ability to:
  • 4. 180 E. Reilly / Journal of Media Literacy Education 2:2 (2010) 177 - 180 ReferencesBronson, Po and Ashley Merryman . 2010. The Creativity Crisis. Newsweek. http://www. newsweek.com/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis. htmlBuckingham, David. 2008. “Introducing Identity.” In Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, edited by David Buckingham, 1-22. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Joan Ganz Cooney Research Center. 2010. Kids Creativity Tools in the Marketplace. http://www. joanganzcooneycenter.org/Cooney-Center- Blog-100.htmlKress, Gunther. 2009. Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London and New York. Routledge.Lindstrom, Lars. 2006. Creativity: What Is It? Can You AssessIt? Can It Be Taught? NSEAD, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Rideout, Victoria, Ulla Foehr, and Donald Roberts. 2010. Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Kaiser Family Foundation.StoryKit. iPhone application. http://itunes.apple.com/ us/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8

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