Tips on Teaching Digital Storytelling


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A few tips for faculty who'd like to offer digital storytelling as an option for student projects. For more resources, see:

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Tips on Teaching Digital Storytelling

  1. 1. + Tips for Teaching Digital Storytelling Projects Amy Goodloe Program for Writing & Rhetoric University of Colorado, Boulder
  2. 2. + Teach the genre, not the technology  Focus on helping students:  Understand how digital storytelling functions as a genre  Develop and organize their ideas effectively  Recognize and apply composing strategies appropriate to an audiovisual medium  Let someone else teach the technology. Doing so:  Helps students have clear expectations about your role and your area of expertise  Avoids the problem of blaming the instructor for the students’ own issues with technology  Encourages students to take ownership of their own tech learning
  3. 3. + Provide plenty of tech resources  Invite academic technology experts to come to class to lead workshops and/or serve as mentors for students  Share links to step-by-step instructions and screencasts that will help students with specific aspects of the composing process   Remind students how to make effective use of Google searches to find help  Encourage tech-savvy students in the class to help others  Organize workshop groups based on level of skill  Devote some class time to letting students help each other  Provide an out-of-class forum for students to use
  4. 4. + Clarify your expectations  Show a range of sample projects  Explain where each falls on the evaluation criteria  Connect to learning goals  Emphasize the use of narrative to communicate  Goal is to expand range of options available for communication…  … not to produce a slick short film for a film studies class  A photo slideshow with a killer soundtrack won’t cut it
  5. 5. + Raise the stakes  Use peer pressure to your advantage by arranging for every student’s project to be visible to the class (or a larger audience)  Allot time for in-class showings  Ask students to post projects on a class blog or wiki  If your class time is limited, ask students to vote on their favorites and show the top 3 in class
  6. 6. + Give students plenty of time Week 1: Week 3:  Find and discuss lots of  Revise story boards samples  Prepare audio recordings  Brainstorm story ideas (voiceover, music, sound  Introduce strategies for effects) composing in words, sounds, and images Week 4:  Produce a rough cut for Week 2: workshop  Develop and workshop story boards Week 5:  Continue exploring  Revise and polish composing strategies  Hold a showing on final day
  7. 7. + Be patient!  Many of today’s college students grew up learning how to write, but this may be the first time they’ve been asked to compose a multimodal message  They’ve likely had poor instruction in technology  Perhaps due to the faulty assumption that they’re “digital natives”  So keep your expectations realistic, especially for students who struggle to use computers  Frequently remind students of the value of what they’re learning, to help them focus on the end goal and not their technology hassles
  8. 8. + Do it yourself first  I highly recommend that instructors who want to ask students to produce digital storytelling projects go through the process of making one themselves first, ideally through a workshop.  Until you’re confronted with the challenge of telling a brief narrative in a multimodal format yourself, you won’t be as well prepared to help students with the kinds of rhetorical and composition strategies available to them.  You’ll also develop much more realistic expectations for what is and isn’t possible in this medium!