Archive for the ‘digital storytelling’ Category


Emerging from Chaos

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

This digital story is by Celina Byers, who is originally from Brazil. She tells the story of learning English as her second language.

She introduced herself and her interest in digital storytelling like this:

I am a lucky person! I love my job: what I do for work, where I work, and with whom I work… One morning towards the end of last year I was talking to my director about the increasing requests we are getting for instructional video production and the need for me to update my video production skills to effectively coordinate my team…

We talked a little about how to go about it and she posed me a question: how would you feel about refreshing your video skills through the exploration of digital story telling? How cool is that? I took the lead and found the digital storytelling certification offered by UC Denver and the CDS… Therefore, here I am taking this course and will be completing my certification by the end of the summer….. I am loving it!!

What’s in a Name?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Mustafa  Sakarya is a colleague I met through my Digital Storytelling classwork at UC/Denver. This is a great story that anyone who has ever been teased about their name can relate to!

introduces himself like this:

It was tough growing up with my name in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Got beat up a lot, made fun of.  I escaped into my own fantasy world of day dreaming and drawing.  In 7th grade I began a daily journal that became an obsession – my one true friend that was always there, ready to listen.  I started making films with a Super 8 camera – they were silly things.  After college I made vague, experimental videos for ten years.

I truly believed that all I could ever be was an artist, or a poet – that I had no other skills.  Then time caught up.  Children happened – a mortgage – a Masters in Library Science – suddenly I’m a librarian at Mercy College.  How could I salvage the creative side of my soul?  Then I found out about digital storytelling.  Could this be my savior?  I enlisted the help of a fellow enthusiast and creative soul, Matt Lewis.  The ball of fulfillment kept getting bigger.  Students and faculty keep climbing on board this amazing vehicle.

The Credit She Never Gets

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Earlier today I posted a quick video about using the ds106 assignments repository to create engagement in an online learning experience. To be clear there are many things that go into such an experience, but I’ve found the ds106 assignment repository has allowed me to re-think ds106 over the last year and a half. The ability to syndicate filtered assignment posts, rate the difficulty level,  relate tutorials, and create new assignments puts the course in the unique position to allow students to shape the experience. The simple act that has proven powerful, fun, and created a sense of community.

The current state of the assignment repository came out of an experimental model Martha Burtis has been iterating on since December 2010. It’s pretty amazing because that was the beginning of the idea of ds106 as open architecture, a space that others can build sites onto, like Alan Levine’s Remix site, Tim Owens’ Daily Create, and Linda McKenna and Rachel McGuirk’s Inspire site.

What’s more, when you think about MOOCs, and ds106 more specifically—which isn’t all that MOOCy—Martha is rarely mentioned. Credit is a tricky thing, and I think Martha would be the last person to really care about all that. That said, she was in Spring 2011 building and teaching an open online course that would be massive in its conception :)

Soon after I became director of DTLT I’ve depended on Martha for advice, guidance, and direction—and she regularly abides. She shares her vast experience freely despite the fact she doesn’t get credit for her work as director of DTLT from 2006 to 2008, her seminal role in ds106 (she made the Summer of Oblivion; I failed the Magic MacGuffin), her deft WordPress coding skills, and her strategic acumen that has kept DTLT relevant and on the edge for years she refuses to be phased. She’s been the organizational and strategic mind running DTLT , and her leadership has been all too often overlooked. So here is a little know secret about the truth on the ground here at DTLT: Martha Burtis is the brains of the organization.

Just the other day while we were figuring out how to help UMW’s current Quality Enhancement Plan (a.k.a. QEP) figure out why they were going to pay a contractor way too much money to transform pre-packaged content in to three online modules (not sure how this idea emerged) covering speaking, writing, and library search skills respectively. The pre-fabricated modules would have a definitive lifespan, there would be no space for iteration, and it would ultimately be resources wasted. Within 10 minutes Martha adeptly refocused the conversation to experimenting with a publishing platform. And rather than rushing to get everything done as soon as possible, we test out one or two individual “lessons” online to see what works. Once we learn how faculty use this in their curriculum, and what would be most useful going forward we’ll make recommendations for developing a platform over the Summer. Hopefully that will be something we can build out from WordPress or MediaWiki or some other similar application, adding to the open ecosystem of options. That’s exactly how you want to run a meeting like this. This is the best possible outcome: experimentation, iteration, and open. Thanks to Martha (and Jerry after her) DTLT has been doing that for years, but this is only just a little of the credit she never gets. I guess we have to start somewhere.

A Slave’s Voice

Monday, July 30th, 2012

This digital story was created by 8th grade American History teacher Daniel Medina. It is a great example of how students can adopt a historical voice and point of view to illustrate an important issue.

Daniel was a student with me in “Digital Storytelling in the Curriculum” at UC/Denver, Summer 2012. This is how he introduced himself:

“When I scrolled through the course catalog I noticed an interesting class called Digital Storytelling in a Curriculum. I thought to myself, “That sounds pretty cool, a class the focuses on personal narrative using technology.” As an 8th grade American History Teacher I believe this can go a long way in the classroom by engaging students and allowing them to approach learning in a variety of ways. I am excited to see what this course has to offer because I currently use storyboards for many of my ELL students. So I figured, “I have to see what this course is about!” On a more personal note, I feel like the course could benefit my ministry, as I am a Youth Pastor at our church. Storytelling plays an important role through the Bible and the testimonies that people have to share.”

At the War Memorial

Monday, July 30th, 2012


“Those whose sacrifice this Cenotaph commemorates were among the men
who, at call of King and Country, left all that was dear, endured hardship,
faced danger, and finally passed from the sight of men by the path of
duty, giving their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those
who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”


At the War Memorial

The sun was out when I got there. I went out in it, and I saw a young person– a student – I thought, lying on the slanted lawn of the war memorial. He was pale as a cave cricket. I was squinting as I came down the steps through the park. The sun was in my eyes.

“…pale as a cave cricket…”

Another man was walking fast toward me using a cane, one leg straight, so he humped forward like a fast-moving inchworm. He reached the war memorial while I was still under the deep shade of the big trees there – chestnuts, maybe or Bigleaf Maples. The sunbathing man didn’t look up at the sound of the metal cane hitting the cement.
The limping man– I believe he was a soldier because he dropped to the ground stiff as an ant. He stacked one leg on top of the other and did 50 push-ups. He was magnificent. I thought of the leaf cutter ants in the Amazon, the way they march over the duff of the dead holding bright green bits of leaf over their heads. Thousands of them march in a line as  far as the eye can see, and each is strong and magnificent and carries a leaf over his head.

Leaf-cutters on the eternal march….

 As I reached the bottom step and hurried forward as if to address the man, he got up and delivered a passionate salute to the memorial. He turned on his good heel and limped away into the jungle maze of Vancouver.
The student still slept in the sun as I circled the war memorial. I looked at it curiously. I wondered what the man saw in it. I felt like I was missing something. The sun stayed out all day, and the next day it rained..






NOTE: The Cenotaph is in Victory Square in Vancouver, B.C.

The engraved inscriptions are:

Facing Hastings Street: “Their name liveth for evermore,” and, within a stone wreath, “1914-1918.”

Facing Hamilton Street: “Is it nothing to you?”

Facing Pender Street: “All ye that pass by…”


ds106 Assignments: Designing for Engagement in Online Learning

Monday, July 30th, 2012

ds106 Assignments: Effective Engagement in Online Classes from Jim Groom on Vimeo.

Alexandra Pickett, who’s having students create an engaging online course space, asked if I would share some quick advice for thinking about how one might approach designing engagement into an online course experience. I can only steal from the best, and Martha Burtis‘ design of the ds106 assignments is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in this regard. What’s more, it changed the very notion of engagement for the high school ds106ers I taught two weeks ago. As a technical framework it fundamentally changed the way I teach the class. It allows me to personalize instruction, abstract the tools, and let the students choose and create what they want. That’s amazing in my mind. I would write more, but I have a post I am writing hailing Martha Burtis for the genius she is when it comes to ds106.

Learning to Listen

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

I have been taking an online class at UC/Denver called “Digital Storytelling in the Curriculum.” The author of this digital story called “Learning to Listen,” is Matt Lewis. He introduces himself this way:

“About a year ago I took the stage in front of about 30 people to tell a 10-minute story I wrote and developed in a workshop the weeks prior. I loved the energy of the room before and after the performance. I loved hearing all the other stories. In the weeks prior, I relished in the art of crafting stories that could be told with universal themes, connections to people, and reflections on life. I found myself devouring stories from the Moth, This American Life, and Risk! story podcasts. I’m hooked on storytelling!

Since then my colleague, Mustafa Sakarya, and I have been waving the storytelling flag all across campus at Mercy College. We say that learning must include learning FROM life. It’s a process of deep reflection, meta-cognition that can only happen after you’ve told someone about an experience. Building opportunities for this into classroom activities and assignments continues to be a fun and rewarding journey.”


A Dream of Sloths

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

IMAGE: Three-Toed Sloth. From the exhibition Amazonia, featuring photography from National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus at Eugene in 2010.

The Night the Cruise Ship Caught Fire, I Found Two Three-toed Sloths on the Beach

When  I got there, the waterfront was burning. Ambulances wedged between fire trucks,  and people silhouettes were running with litters in both directions on the long pier. Streams of water shot out over the cruise ship backlit  by the flames and the midnight neon of the city in the distance.

I came up along the shore where bodies rolled like logs in the surf. The surf broke at its crest and hissed up the black sand. A human sized figure struggled to crawl up the beach, but each wave hammered at it, loosening its clawing grip in the sand and sucking it back to sea.

I ran down to see if I could help, and it was then I saw the baby with its almost human face crying just out of the struggling parent’s weak grasp. I grabbed the baby creature just under his armpits and dragged him up above the surfline. Mother would be dangerous, I knew, so I found a 10 foot length of bull kelp and threw one end to her. I stood on the other end, heavy enough to steady it. She used her three long toes to drag herself up above the breaking waves.

The baby clung to his mother’s chest, human and yet not human. I stood back as the two of them disappeared into the heavy grass and sheltering complexity of the dunes.

I should call the zoo, I thought, but in a dream, you let the creatures that emerge from the sea escape into the dark outside the over bright circle of noise and lights cast by the fire, the ambulance, the big water trucks, and the burning ship.

Digital Argument

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Sometimes researching court cases is the more effective way to meet a legal challenge, as Scott Smith shows in this engaging digital argument.

Scott Smith has created a lively digital story for his 8th grade American History class that demonstrates how DST can be used to put forth an argument.

Colonial Feminist

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Bethany Cornish has created a digital story told from the point of view of an American colonial feminist and activist, Penelope Barker. This is an example of how a digital story can be created to highlight and personify any historical figure in any field of learning.

Penelope Barker circa 1773