Digital Storytelling

Old-timey radio show meets digital technology. The offspring is the podcast.

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It can sound like The Thrilling Adventure Hour: think 1930s radio with a modern quirkiness all made up for fun and laughs, or it can be darker and addicting, like Serial, which is based on a real life murder story.

Whatever your preferred genera, there is a podcast for it.

The Benefits

In the article The Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling, author Leah Levy writes that teachers are beginning to utilize this resource to help them get students to think critically about literature, writing, and technology. In addition to the deeper thinking that can be promoted through incorporating podcasts, she adds that the technology is a good way to meet a handful of the expectations set forth in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

English teacher Michael Godsey agrees, and has found this to be the case in his classroom. Godsey has used the podcast “Serial” to help improve his students listening skills, improve reading skills as students have poured over transcripts of the show, and caused students to use higher level thinking. All of these things are requirements of Language Arts CCSS, and students are meeting them in a way that does not seem like school work at all. To read more about how Godsey uses the podcast in his classroom, see What Teens are Learning from Serial and Other Podcasts.

Teachers can also incorporate other forms of digital storytelling in the classroom, such as video or photography. There are defiantly benefits to using podcasts and digital storytelling in the classroom, they help teachers deliver standards based instruction, which is important. It also helps develop an interest in literature that can turn into a lifelong passion, which is more important.

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Photo CC – by Zero Divide

The (Possible) Disadvantages

As teachers we must remember that we use technology to support learning objectives. If the technology does not fit, we find something else. We need to think just as critically of digital storytelling forms as we do with other methods of conveying information.

We also need to remember that it the teacher that directs the learning, the learning does not direct the teacher. When I was in school many teachers used videos to supplement instruction. The teachers who made them meaningful had learning activities and discussion centered on the videos to help students get the most out of the technology as possible. Some teachers used the videos to burn time, and we rarely gave the content a second thought. Digital storytelling can be an excellent tool – it is a tool, and needs to be utilized, not just set out there with the hope some students will make use of it.

The last disadvantage to using digital storytelling in any format is that it is easy to get carried away. Addiction carried away, because these podcasts can take over your life in the way Netflix causes the evening hours to slip away without thought or notice. Not that I know anything about that. *Ahem*

. . .

I would like to use digital storytelling in my elementary school classroom. It will be a great tool to utilize as I teach thinking, listening, and writing skills to my students. Both Scholastic and itunes have resources for younger audiences and teachers.

I think that I would also like to give my students the opportunity to turn their writing and artistic abilities into digital stories. This would be an excellent way for students to make learning meaningful, and produce products that allow them to extend their thinking and learning beyond the traditional products students churn out.

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Photo CC – by Melanie Holtsman

However I use podcasts and digital storytelling, be it through presenting material or as an avenue of expression, I want to make sure students are using it to further their learning.

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12 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling

  1. You had some really great disadvantages. I love how you said the teacher should control the technology and not the other way around. That is so true, I think technology is one of those new tools teachers try to go for immediately when they could use a better approach to get the point of the lesson across. You are so right, we should not make technology fit instead it should just be like a supplemental aid that flows with the lesson.

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    • Thanks, Kayla I think it is so important to remember that we meet learning objectives in the best way for the class. Sometimes it will be utilizing technology, at others it will be with paper and pencil. I do like the options podcasts present in regard to auditory learners. They will be a good way to help differentiate instruction.

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  2. I thought of those because I think it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new teaching tool, particularly one that uses technology. I think a podcast can be a great tool to teach, but we need to use it when it reinforces or demonstrates the big ideas of a lesson. I am excited to use this type of technology in my classroom!

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