After completing a four week MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Copyright in August of 2014, I decided to enroll in another MOOC. Well, I actually enrolled in two MOOCs. The first one is “Powerful Uses of Digital Storytelling” in Coursera which is taught by two professors from the University of Houston. The other MOOC is on developing digital leadership with educators and is taught by facilitators from the Friday Institute at N.C. State University. There have certainly been challenges of balancing the assignments with my teaching job and my family, but feel that the process of learning has benefited me personally and professionally. I look forward in a future blog post to sharing my learning from the digital leadership course, but today I will focus on how I learned to develop a digital story using a Storyboard, record my narration using Audacity and create the actual digital story using a free video making tool called WeVideo.
This experience of storytelling in a digital format was explained to MOOC participants as a series of steps to follow while planning a digital story rather than only elements. Many examples of storyboards were provided at the University of Houston’s Digital Storytelling website along with multiple high quality examples of digital stories that spanned multiple genres. The instructors shared the Seven Elements of Digital Story Telling which helped me choose a topic for my own story that I created during the course. I chose not to tell a personal story with emotional content, but rather focused on a science topic related to energy. I appreciated the short video clips that the instructors recorded and shared with students to allow us to understand steps of choosing a topic, writing a script and locating images that are free to use on the internet, finding copyright free music to play in the background of our narration at jamendo.com, recording our voices using Audacity, how to save and export the audio file properly and how to use the editing tools in WeVideo to draft and edit our stories. Here is the link to my digital story on Sound Energy: Sound Energy Digital Story
Since my school district is a Google Apps for Education School District, I knew that I could add on WeVideo for students to use in their Google Accounts for free. Audacity is already installed on our school computers too so I had the necessary digital tools in place to be able to replicate the steps of digital storytelling with my students. As each week progressed in my Digital Storytelling Course, I was able share the steps with my school’s Media Specialist and together we developed a planning guide to use with our fourth graders. She and I consulted with a fourth grade teacher who told us that fourth graders would be studying forms of energy during October such as light, heat and sound. We decided to have students research forms of energy using print and digital resources in the school Media Center and record their notes on a sheet with four guiding questions. We considered our planning sheet to be students’ storyboard. Here is an example of the sheet that we showed to students as the example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fzqxae-_HiE10E5qFCEBf1TKLpGvggoxIu1Hc5GCjCM/edit?usp=sharing
I learned later in the course that it would be better to add larger images to a digital story in WeVideo starting at least at 1,000 pixels. I included the size of the images to show students so we could analyze the clarity of the smaller images. I found fairly clear free images that were free to use or share in Google Advanced Search and added them to my final story. This coming week, I will be showing students my completed MOOC Digital Story on Sound Energy as a way for them to envision what they are about to do too. I will show them how to do Google Advanced Image Searches and how to properly attribute the images. They will look at their notes and determine how to construct narration that will not only explain the type of energy, but also give examples of how this energy form shows motion and include examples. They will record their narration in Audacity then upload the WAV file to their free WeVideo account. I will show them how to put together a WeVideo Timeline Storyboard and how to stretch various images that they have found to play as their voice narration plays. I am excited about showing them the animation known as the Ken Burns effect which allows users to zoom in or out on a still image for effect.
This project has been a wonderful example of collaboration between the Media Specialist and myself as the K-5 Technology Teacher. As a result of our collaboration, we have realized that this topic of energy has proven to be a bit of a challenge due to the advanced reading level of many of the printed or digital texts that she is using with students in the Media Center. The use of online resources at www.ncwiseowl.com has also provided online encyclopedias with kid friendly explanations of energy forms. I know that we tackled a rigorous project to do in the first quarter of the school year, but look forward to teaching students the digital citizenship piece next as they locate images and possibly, some background music at jamendo.com. I know that students will be able to create future digital stories with their scripts written out clearly as a result of this initial training.
I will also have students share their storyboards with each other before proceeding with locating images and recording narration to provide helpful feedback using a rubric with the following elements like the one which was used in my Digital Storytelling MOOC. I also will ask students to self evaluate their digital stories on energy to see if they have met the goals outlined in the rubric below.
The Purpose of the Digital Story:
4 – The Purpose of the digital story is established early and a clear focus is maintained throughout the entire video.
3 – The purpose of the digital story is established early and a clear focus is maintained throughout most of the video
2 – The purpose of the digital story is somewhat difficult to understand, but becomes clearer by the end of the video.
1 – The purpose of the digital story is not clearly expressed.
Clarity of Voice of the Recorded Narration:
4 – All of the narrator’s words can be easily understood.
3 – Most of the narrator’s words can be easily understood.
2 – Some of the narrator’s words cannot be easily understood.
1 – Most of the narrator’s words cannot be easily understood.
Quality of Images:
4 – All images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.
3 – Most images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.
2 – Some images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.
1 – Few images are of high quality and are appropriate to the topic of the digital story.
Yes or No – Image URL’s were provided.
Meaningful Use of Music:
4 – The music nicely complements the audio narration and the content of the digital story.
3 – The music only somewhat complements th audio narration and the content of the digital story.
2 – The music is too loud or distracts from the audio narration or the content of the digital story.
1 – Music track caused viewers of the digital story to not be able to understand the audio narration.
Yes or No – The song track’s URL was provided from jamendo.com along with proper description of
Creative Commons – BY – NC – SA
I also plan to allow students to use StoryboardThat.com to plan out a story as a way to differentiate and provide images for students.
I would love your feedback on how you use digital storytelling with your students.