You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
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.”
“The major strengths of DEGs include  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.
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?
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