Corridors of Stories

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. 

C.S.Lewis

There are whispers in corridors. Wanderings and wonderings. There are twists and bends. The unexpected, the predicted, the wonderous.

So too in learning. Yet knowledge is not something transferrable; it is not a commodity which can be absorbed. Knowledge as a commodity can only be exchanged – and this process  does not include learning. Learning is a solitary process, it is up to the individual to learn or not.

When it comes to digital literacies and engaging students in their learning process, I am a strong believer and practioner of digital story telling. Each student has the space to focus on his/her story, on what is valid, on what is valuable  to him/herself and transferable to others, thus starting a conversation which may lead to further corridors of discovery and reflection.

Stories do not happen in a vacumm. There are contexts, hidden meanings, weavings of significance and questionings.

Traditional school literacies have relied on printed text to transfer concepts. However, by blending multi-digital literacies (e.g. images, animation, music etc) and popular culture which engages learners (e.g. cartoons/comics), the learning process is centred on the learner. It is their creation, their process, their product.

A photostory, for example,  can demonstrate the

transformative power of reflecting on one’s own autobiography, the compilation of a person’s stories, in both words and images, to make sense of the often blurred mirror that simultaneously absorbs language learning and reflects identity construction.” (Skinner & Hagood 2008

When Law and Kickmeier discuss Digital Educational Games, they touch upon a feature which is equally ingrained in storytelling:

In a DEG, adaptive and interactive digital storytelling serves two essential purposes: First, it strongly supports a personalized learning experience by adapting the game’s story to individual preferences and by providing the possibility of explorative learning processes.”

and:

The major strengths of DEGs include [12] a high level of intrinsic motivation to play and to proceed in the game; clear goals and rules; a meaningful yet rich and appealing learning context; an engaging storyline with random elements of surprise; immediate feedback; a high level of interactivity, challenge and competition.”

In every class, there are elements of competition among the peers and though one may not necessarily immediately  perceive the competitive element in storytelling, it is there when learners share and read each others stories; there will be whispers, smiles and giggles; there will nodding in confirmation with the shared points of references and there will be that cutting edge to see who produced the best digital product with the least linguistic mistakes as well. Additionally, storytelling expresses the Individualization of learning experiences, adaptation to personal aims, needs, abilities thus giving learners a more enhanced sense of achievement.

In the field of education, there has been a strong emphasis on individualization and differentiation regarding students’ learning process. There has also been the positive

influence of Adrian Holliday’s work and the voiced concern of linguistic imperialism in the field of English Language Teaching. Canagarajah (1999) defends that it is necessary to “develop a grounded theory, in other words, a thinking on language, culture, and pedagogy that is motivated by the lived reality and everyday experience of periphery subjects.”

Echoing Canagarajah, Phillipson (1992) is clear when he explains that:

“The belief that ELT is non-political serves to disconnect culture from structure.  It assumes that educational concerns can be divorced from social, political, and economic realities.  It exonerates the experts who hold the belief from concerning themselves with these dimensions.  It encourages a technical approach to ELT, divorced even from wider educational issues. “

One last feature I would like to point out is the relationship between oral, written, photographic and digital media. For many students who come from less privileged backgrounds, it is through the focus on their interests, their stories that their voices are shared. Digital storytelling is an inclusive approach when introduced in the classroom.

Voice. The power of having a voice, the power of sharing one’s voice.

We are living in times beyond preparing students to perform diligently in an industrial age.

Education is no longer a process to shackle youth to their social condition.

Storytelling is empowering.

What whispers do you heed in digital storytelling?


References:

Canagarajah, A.S. 1999 , Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching, OUP

Holliday, A.  1994, Appropriate Methodology and Social Context, CUP

Law, E.L-C & M.Rust-Kickmeier, 80 Days: Immersive Digital Educational games with Adaptive Storytelling, 

Skinner, E.N. & M.C.Hagood, 2008, Developing Literate Identities with English Language Learners Through Digital Storytelling

Phillipson, R. 1992, Linguistic Imperialism, OUP

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4 thoughts on “Corridors of Stories

  1. Pingback: Corridors of Stories | Utbildning på nätet | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: Corridors of Stories | HandyTools For EFL Teachers | Scoop.it

  3. We live in a fast paced world where every minute something new is seen or heard. Story telling has evolved so much that nowadays if a person wants, he can actually have that book which he wants to absorb and digest can be made available right in his palms.

    Digital story telling is sure enough of the best ways in which you can keep yourself or your child entertained as its easy, mobile and very lucid to use. Thanks largely due to digital devices such as the Amazon Kindle, the iPods, iPads and other ebook readers this target can be achieved very easily.

    I download almost all the bedtime stories I used to listen my mother narrate as I was a child and give them to my kid, she listens to them and flips the “pages” of the gadget as one would turn a page. It may not necessarily be the same but it atleast gives her the independence of choosing and listening to the story she wishes to hear. It also enables her to read the exact amount of content she wishes to absorb.

    Digital storytelling is easy and very varied in it’s uses and applications, to me it represents the future. The joys of print edition is also immense but well that I will leave it to another day. Let’s all embrace technology when she is knocking at our doorstep after all we all have something to learn and share from her.

    Cheers
    Vijay
    @bucharesttutor

  4. Hi Vijay, thank you for reading my post and contributing your thoughts. I really like the point you make – of a reader having the independence and autonomy of choice, i.e. reading how much and what they want (like your young daughter). That aspect alone is a major motivator for children to develop a love of reading and hopefully continue throughout their teens and life.

    And as you very well say, tech is here at our doorstep; there is no point in ignoring it because it will not go away any day soon :-)

    Learning and sharing – thank you for teaching and sharing here with me!

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