Monday, April 20, 2009

"In a Flash" Digital Stories

This short digital story was my first attempt at the "In a Flash" format I discovered in the BBC Capture Wales digital storytelling guide. The idea is to use one photo - and take one photo of it in the narrator's hand and one photo of them holding it and looking at the camera.

I tried this out as a model for groups of Japanese study tour students with a pre-intermediate level of English. The idea was that they would use this to develop their own digital "In a flash" story based on a special event, experience, person, place or object.

The time I spent with each group varied, but on average I had about 4 one and a half hour sessions with them (6 hours), in addition to the final screening (1.5 hours). The software we used was Photostory 3 (free Microsoft movie making software). Photostory 3 doesn't have the same scope as Movie Maker, but for simple, short-term enterprises, it is easier to use.

Some examples of student work will be posted here if and when permission is granted.

IATEFL Conference, Cardiff

I recently attended and gave a presentation the IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) annual conference in Cardiff, Wales. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about digital storytelling and to see how it fits into the bigger picture of what is happening in the field. Click here for a link to my presentation and slides.

My biggest discovery was the notion of 'identity texts'. The concept, as originally conceived by Professor Jim Cummins, was highlighted in the presentations of two of the plenary speakers at the conference; Professor Bonny Norton and Claudia Ferradas. (Click on their names to see videos of their plenaries). Broadly, identity texts can include essays, poems, works of visual art, drama, music - any texts through which we can express who we are, and in doing so, come to view ourselves in a positive light. What came across in both plenaries was that construction of identity texts can lead to higher levels of investment, both in classroom and imagined communities.

When I heard this, it was clear to me that digital stories are indeed identity texts, and this may explain why my students have been so engaged in the process of creating them and so proud of their achievements.