Digital Stories about Digital Storytelling!

Introduction to Chosen Pieces and Evaluation Traits
For my digital story critiques this first week I wanted to take advantage of using digital stories to learn more about what make a digital story and what I will need to do to make my own effective digital stories. Because I am observing these stories with the lens that they are models for my own future projects I chose evaluation traits that I felt best evaluated the overall effectiveness or engagement of each digital story.  The traits I chose were:
  1. project planning
  2. originality, voice, and creativity
  3. sense of audience
Project planning is important because a strong plan for any project will lay the foundation for communicating ideas in a way that is coherent and flows naturally and effectively. Strong voice and creativity of the pieces will hook the audience’s attention and  increase their engagement throughout the story. Finally the sense of audience is important because the author needs to know who they are creating for, and making sure the audience can access the critical takeaways from the story.
The Digital Stories
My first piece was shared by TeachTec Tips for Teachers and was called Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. This piece is an introduction to the why to use digital storytelling with students and focuses on the increased engagement from students.
 My second piece was shared by Mark Woolley at the Catholic Education Center of Wollongong, Australia and is titled Living Literacy – Digital Story Telling for 21st Century Learners. This piece give a brief overview of why to incorporate digital story telling and includes information about how to start digitally telling stories.
Evaluation of Chosen Pieces
The Living Literacy piece was created as a Prezi which empowers the user to move from visuals and text in a manor that is more fluid and nonlinear than the traditional progression of a PowerPoint sideshow. The author took advantage of this tool and was able to highlight the core arguments for using digital storytelling and to reinforce those reason with repeated viewings throughout the piece. This planning effectively made the  message for the why for digital story telling the focal port of the piece and to connect to suggestions of how to incorporate digital learning into teaching practice.
The Digital Storytelling in the Classroom was a video of and educator who has embraced digital storytelling telling her story with video of her students creating digital stories interwoven into the interview to illustrate the points that are being made. The educator’s story is well rehearsed and delivered professionally and the shots of the students clearly illustrate how engage they are in their work. This piece, unlike the Woolley piece, does not show any examples of students final projects and I believe that this is a missed opportunity in the planning process to give the audience incite into what that great student engagement led to.
Voice and Creativity:
The Woolley piece has a strong well rehearsed voice that keeps the viewer’s attention by succinctly moving though information but it is the examples of student work that  grabs the viewer’s attention because it is a natural way to highlight the effective outcomes for the student creators of digital stories. I feel that inclusion of student work at the beginning of the piece would have hooked the audience’s attention sooner.
The TeachTec Tips piece is very polished and the production value goes a long way to making the piece have a strong voice that effectively communicates the message that digital story telling is effective because it increased student engagement and therefor all teachers need to incorporate it into learning regardless of the teacher’s level of comfort with technology.
Sense of Audience:
The Woolley piece seems to understand that its audience is teachers who are already interested in digital storytelling but need support with the “how to”. Woolley effectively reaches this audience by quickly giving an overview of why digital storytelling is effective and then time devoted to exploring recommendations of digital storytelling tools and exemplar pieces.
The TeachTec Tips piece is geared to a different audience, teachers who are not convinced of the effectiveness of digital storytelling or are intimidated by the technologies needed for digital storytelling. The piece is effective in reaching this audience of weary teachers by using a trustworthy spokesperson to reassure viewers that even though she was worried about her own technological skills she took baby steps and was able to achieve strong student engagement, and the student engagement was reinforced with viewers with shots of students collaborating, focusing, and having fun in the process.

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