Education has different purposes depending on the point in time. One may regard education as civil training for individuals to fit in well in their social environment, as a process to perform the necessary tasks for a society to keep on producing and sustaining itself, or, as process for individuals to find their true potential while giving them the building blocks of knowledge of their cultural heritage.
Creativity and innovation are essential for any society to progress. Despite the rows and rows of bookshelves claiming the secrets to achieving creativity and innovation, they are often illusive in the learning process. What constitutes creativity? What constitutes innovation? Broad questions which one can only attempt to answer in regard to a specific context.
My current context is language teaching. Having taught writing skills for many years within the fields of business studies, medical ethics, EAP and ELT, it is no surprise that digital storytelling is a special field of interest to me.
Sharda (2010) explains how “Stories have been used as educational medium since prehistoric times as they encapsulate four crucial aspects of human communication: information, knowledge, context, and emotions (Norman, 1993). Embedding stories as digital media, i.e., digital storytelling, is therefore not only desirable, but almost essential for producing engaging e-learning content.”
Storytelling has often had the purpose of sharing values and beliefs to others. There are emotions in stories and with digital media, these can be creatively articulated. In addition to individualisation, there is ownership – truly motivating for learners. Furthermore, ”digital stories give students an opportunity to experiment with self-representation—telling a story that highlights specific characteristics or events—a key part of establishing their identity, a process that for many is an important aspect of the college years.” (Digital Storytelling)
Storytelling as a tool for learning is not restricted to language learners either. Tendero (2006) has researched storytelling in teacher training programmes, “Digital storytelling efficiently facilitates efforts to capture classroom moments for preservice teachers to reflect upon and revise practice, as well as to develop a teaching consciousness. What I have experienced is not just videotaping and critiquing one’s attempts at teaching. What I have experienced is a chance for preservice teachers to view, reflect, compose, and imagine versions of the teaching “self.” These discoveries are focused on some new possibilities for creating narratives about one’s own practice.”
There is wonder and learning in stories. And there are different purposes as well. Robin summarizes 3 main purposes:
“There are many different types of digital stories, but it is possible to categorize the major types into the following three major groups: 1) personal narratives – stories that contain accounts of significant incidents in one’s life; 2) historical documentaries – stories that examine dramatic events that help us understand the past, and 3) stories designed to inform or instruct the viewer on a particular concept or practice.”
Robin goes further to explain how digital storytelling meets the different demands of todays’ learning ecosystem:
“Digital Storytelling by students provides a strong foundation in many different types of literacy, such as information literacy, visual literacy, technology literacy, and media literacy. Summarizing the work of several researchers in this field, Brown, Bryan and Brown (2005) have labeled these multiple skills that are aligned with technology as “Twenty-first Century Literacy,” which they describe as the combination of:
• Digital Literacy – the ability to communicate with an ever-expanding community to discuss issues, gather information, and seek help;
• Global Literacy - the capacity to read, interpret, respond, and contextualize messages from a global perspective
• Technology Literacy - the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity, and performance;
• Visual Literacy - the ability to understand, produce and communicate through visual images;
• Information Literacy - the ability to find, evaluate and synthesize information.”
All these characteristics are embedded in digital storytelling. On the one hand, introducing digital storytelling may make new demands on educators; on the other hand, it is necessary that the curriculum is flexible and allows space for educators and students to engage in digital storytelling.
How do you engage in digital storytelling?
Robin, B.R. – The Educational uses of Digital Storytelling
Sharda, N. (2010) Using Digital Storytelling for Creative and Innovative e-Learning
Tendero, A. (2006). Facing versions of the self: The effects of digital storytelling on English education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(2). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol6/iss2/languagearts/article2.cfm