Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Digital storytelling at Gloucestershire

Yesterday, I ventured to the Centre for Active Learning, situated in a tranquil little garden area at the University of Gloucestershire for the ‘And they all learned happily ever after..., event on digital storytelling in Higher Education

The day began with an overview of the pathfinder project, although the team had prior experience of using digital storytelling. Academics showed and discussed examples from a range of areas including Landscape, Accounting, Sports studies and Tourism. These included a variety of individual and group projects developed over different time-frames, from induction week to a full term. By all accounts, feedback from students has been positive. Examples focused mainly on personal stories, but they also involved critical storytelling within the discipline. The digital elements refer to the use of image, audio and video in merging written and oral approaches, although the focus is more on the story telling than learning high-tech skills. The potential pedagogical benefits are numerous and include: enabling analysis of self in relation to subject/material; encouraging cooperative activity; making sense of experience and giving voice and building confidence etc

One interesting discussion point revolved around criteria for assessing such work and the equivalencies in different presentations. Some participants suggested devising a process/product combination (in other words requiring a reflective piece to make the design and learning process more explicit), although others thought this unnecessary, believing this might detract from the story as a valuable resource for sharing and reflection beyond the actual assessment needs (and assessment audience). I suppose it depends on the subject and rationale for creating the stories. Jenny Moon suggested including students in deciding the criteria for assessment.

This led well into the interactive workshop led by Jenny Moon (Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University) in which we examined the elements of reflective writing through ‘graduated scenarios’. Building on her extensive research into reflective writing and critical thinking, Jenny also considered the growing use of the term story in higher education suggesting that stories will become even more prominent. I picked up lots of interesting ideas, in particular, using literature to illustrate stories relevant to the subject area, as well as using digital storytelling to help link theory to practice.

I particularly got a sense of the way in which digital storytelling can provide motivating and creative activities for learning and reflection and, crucially, can enable the incorporation and development of a range of digital literacies.

In short then, I really enjoyed the day and I’m just sorry I couldn’t stay for today’s practical session.

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