Education, Literacy, STEM, Storytelling

Rethinking the (My) Digital Storytelling Workshop

Douglass Library, a branch of Champaign Public, facilitates an after-school program with fantastic mentors, in which bring in organizations and individuals to run a project for a couple days each week. With my very limited experience from a storytelling class, I volunteered to host a digital storytelling workshop. Not surprisingly, we did not complete the projects. Aside from time constraints we had one student attend the full two days and one student come three-fourths of the time. Developing stories and finding photos took twice as long as projected. I walked in and out of the experience thinking digital storytelling cannot be workshopped in four hours (three if you count the hour deducted in chatting time for middle school school students).

826 Valencia, a non-profit writing center in San Francisco, has a field trip to the center called Storytelling and Bookmaking, “during which students collaboratively write an original story, leave it at a cliff hanger, and then individually write their own endings with the help of volunteers.” A story guide, typist and illustrator help formulate the story on a projector before it is printed to chapbook form so students can complete the story and illustrations as desired. What’s most striking about the program is that a fun, intelligent, creative story is developed in under two hours. The kids have a story they contributed to to take home to keep alongside professionally published books.

After watching Digital Storytelling: Animated PowerPoint Tutorial and a young boy’s How to make a powerpoint animation : tutorial, in which the designers create a digital story using just PowerPoint in under five minutes, I wonder if there’s a way to adapt the digital storytelling format into workshop a with a guide, a typist and a digital illustrator proficient in whipping up an animated PowerPoint (or other software) in less than an hour. It is not the same as having a book to take home, but it would demonstrate the possibilities while continuing to focus on narrative, the most important aspect of the digital storytelling process. Now to find time to learn or bodies to bring in who can make a cow come to life in less than 30 seconds. Or a tutorial for the students to make their own?

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