Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blogging for teaching digital narratives

So blogging for teaching:

Blogging is a great way not only to reflect on the aim and purpose of your teaching but also for students to demonstrate their learning. There are, of course, some parameters that you'd need to consider.

1. Be clear about the purpose of the blog e.g. if your writing about digital narratives, and what's good about them as a form of expression, express the need for serious consideration about what you include... (in this form of narrative keep the number of pics to 20, number of words 250 and the music appropriate and original). Links between the different modes is key! (I actually think this is where most meaning is made - in the liminal spaces between the pictures, words and music.)

2. Clearly establish (if you're using blogging for education) what sort of language you'd expect to include - and if you're the blogging demonstrate that language as well as personal opinion. Let's say you are blogging about digital narratives (lol not to be repetitive!) Using words like orientation, contrast, complexity, resolution as well as the technical language for the ICT you're using is imperative.

3. The basis of all good digital narratives is evoking a response in the audience... identify the type of emotional responses you're aiming for in your blog. Here I think the idea of taking an emotional journey is important if you start out bleakly go somewhere good, and vice versa.

4. Blogs are also important to express the things that fail... so let's say you're writing a blog about something that didn't match your expectations then say so... what failed and if you figure out particular points in the narrative that didn't work and conversely any elements that were successful is always useful reflection.

5. If you're writing about failing also remember that you need to be able to learn from and move on from failure. So try and include comments, expressions and wishes about how things might improve in the future. These expresses about moving forward and upward are really important!

So here's an example of what my last digital narrative experience felt like in the classroom.

Instructional vid on how to make digital narratives

The class read a number of poems about marginalisation - some of the poems were lyrics from songs. The aim was that the students were going to construct a visual text to interpret their take on the poem/song. I thought the aim was pretty clear. (Haha!) I realised that the aim was mine and although I stated it and wrote it on the assessment sheet, how 16 year olds interpret what I say isn't always a direct match!

Had to adjust... So I selected a number of poems and distributed them to the students. We went through the process of using the technology (because we're a mac school we use iMovie, but if you're using PCs Photostory 3 is just as easy) and looked at some good digital stories.

A couple of things we learned were to use large photographs and it is always better to use photographs that the students take themselves rather than appropriate (steal) them from the internet - unless you use wikimedia commons stuff which is copyright free. (This actually works well because the students actually physically express themselves in ways that directly relate to the emotions in the poetry). It is also good to construct your own music using sound clouds or garage band... this way the issues of copyright don't loom.

One of the most difficult things to learn about is how to create drama through contrast, but I think generally because of the culture of youtube there are heaps of examples and students (and even some adults) have an intuitive understanding about what manipulates an audience.

Example of an interpretation of a poem... in digital narrative form

It was pretty important to talk about the bleakness of isolation and marginalisation and the ways in which we can overcome that dark place where loneliness and strangeness pervades our experience - so our next unit will be on positive and uplifting poetry... maybe about the natural world...

An interest side bar... Len Unsworth, Angela Thomas and AnneMaree O'Brien appeared on Catalyst the other night
about digital storytelling and learning>> future classrooms. The program they used in the program was Kahootz.

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