Final Portfolio for Digital Storytelling

*I am currently wrapping up my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is my Final Portfolio for a course titled Digital Storytelling.  Here you will find links to several creative pieces, written responses and critiques, and online engagement with other digital story creators and fellow CU Denver students.  I reflect upon each of these pieces and write about how I enjoyed them and how they have shaped my learning and understanding of digital storytelling.

Digital Storytelling Critiques

I discovered so many amazing digital stories throughout this class that a part of me wants to list every single one that I critiqued!  I am in awe of people and what they can create and put out there for the world to see.  But in an effort to showcase what has helped in my understanding of digital storytelling, as well as the stories that pertain to my theme, I have chosen a smaller selection to discuss here.  (It wasn’t easy!)

  • Digital Story Critique #2: Bear 71  This interactive documentary is the true story of a female grizzly bear monitored by wildlife conservation officers from 2001-2009.  Bear 71 reimagines the bear’s story from an omniscient narrative vantage point, speaking directly to the viewer, with several interactive elements scattered throughout the story.  I had never experienced anything quite like this before and I was blown away.  Not just by the topic of the story (which will stay with me forever), but by the notion that a digital story is so much more than just a video (not to say that “just a video” isn’t as impactful as other mediums).  It’s just that this story was truly the first time that my knowledge of digital storytelling had widened to include any other mediums at all.  I realized just how small my frame of view was when it came to digital storytelling and how there are actually so many ways one can tell a great story.  This piece was so beautifully done and I will continue to share it for as long as it’s live on the web.Bear 71 Header

  • Digital Story Critique #3: Josef  I found this digital story titled Josef on  It was created by Brad Johnson, during a workshop facilitated by the Center for Digital Storytelling.   Brad tells the story of his grandfather’s obsession with food and his constant need for his family to acknowledge it.  I chose to critique this short film because it related very closely to my own theme…a self-reflection on my life so far, through food.  This piece is what really helped me to hone in on exactly what my theme was and what it meant to me.  I have several of my own memories from my father, just as Brad did of his grandfather, and I started to think about all of the digital stories of my own that I could tell.  I realized that I wanted to focus more on the food traditions of my own family and what I wanted to accomplish going forward in the future, instead of focusing on the past and how unhappy I was with how things were done in my childhood.Feature_Image

  • Digital Story Critique #6: Tourte Milanaise  This digital story was really a turning point for me in the semester.  It’s a short video titled Tourte Milanaise, from a farm-to-table video blog by Aube Giroux.  She is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates.  This video really spoke to me and to be blunt, it broke my focal theme for the semester wide open!  I had been focusing on the past, a self-reflection on my life so far, through food, and this video made me realize how much I truly just wanted to focus on the future.  I didn’t want to dwell on my sad memories any longer, I only wanted to daydream about and plan for future traditions with my own daughter.   Watching this specific video made me yearn for the future and it evoked feelings of hope and excitement.  All of Ms. Giroux’s videos do!  (Side note:  My two-year-old is obsessed with watching these videos!)Tourte Header

  • Digital Story Critique #10: FOOD  I’m listing this digital story, a stop-motion animation video titled, FOOD purely because it was done so well and it related nicely to my theme.  It was the 2015 Real Food Media Contest Winner for Best Animation and brought interviews with real eaters from around the world to life as ‘edible characters’ who discussed the impacts of their own food choices.  The messages in the video really resonated with me as my husband and I are trying so hard to instill good food habits in our own daughter.  FOOD Header
  • Digital Story Critique #12: Eat: The Story of Food  This digital story is a full website that absolutely blew me away.  It’s incredibly beautiful, entirely interactive, and extremely informative!  The website is called Eat: The Story of Food, and it’s actually a byproduct of National Geographic’s television series of the same name.  I loved discovering this website, as it truly shows the wide realm of what can be a digital story.  Eat Header

Literature Responses

  • Response to Lambert’s “Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community” – Chapter 1  This was the first chapter (of several) of Lambert’s book that I read.  It was also the first time that I truly gave digital storytelling any deep thought.  My main takeaways from this chapter were:  explaining an idea versus telling a story, how digital storytelling helps with sustaining memories, various genres of stories and what they convey/explain to us, and identity construction.Work of the Story

  • Response to Alexander’s “The New Digital Storytelling” – Chapter 5  This was the only chapter i read from Alexander’s book and it turned out to be incredibly informative and has helped shaped my world of digital storytelling more than I expected.  I hadn’t given much thought to social media as a form of digital storytelling, but Alexander’s analyses of podcasts, web videos, and VoiceThread really broadened my view and understanding!  I enjoyed this chapter and wish I had read more from this book.Header

Digital Storytelling Assignments

DS106 Assignments

  • Visual Assignment: Selfie with Albert Einstein  This visual assignment from the DS106 Assignment Bank challenged me to find a historic photograph and place myself into the scene.  This was my first assignment from the bank and I remember thinking, “Wow, I really get to be creative on this one!”  I spent a long time (too much time) thinking about what historic moment I wanted to be in and I just couldn’t pick…until I remembered the iconic photograph of good ol’ Albert laughing at something.  This was truly the beginning of me realizing that digital stories can start very small but can become very powerful and/or impactful depending on how they’re done!  (I’m also just proud of my Photoshop skills on this one.)  Selfie Header

  • Audio Assignment: A Song for My Daughter  This audio assignment from the DS106 Assignment Bank was really difficult for me.  It challenged me to sing a song and record myself three different times, then mash it all together without any acoustics.  I am not a singer, nor do I have any kind of song-worthy voice!  But I decided to take the assignment to heart and do the best I could.  I sang a song for my daughter and it was so much fun watching her listen to it.  It was extremely difficult for me to post the song and put it out into the vast wonderland of the worldwide web, but I did it.  This was the beginning of my inner walls starting to crumble.  Digital storytelling is about putting yourself out there and showing vulnerabilities and I did just that!Audio Assignment Header

Daily Creates

  • Daily Create #1: Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?  This was my first Daily Create (and my very first assignment for the course!) and it was a very simple assignment – record yourself knocking on something ordinary or strange.  I was incredibly nervous to create this and put it “out there” for people to see and hear because I felt like an imposter in the world of DS106 and I didn’t yet feel “qualified” to be creating digital stories in any shape or form.  But I was actually excited to make something so different and creative and so I just did it.  I made the recording and put it out there!  It was such a simple thing, but when I got a comment from a stranger, you’d think I had just won the lottery.  I had tweeted the link to this assignment and used a few hashtags to get it some attention.  This was my first taste of the power of Twitter as a tool for engagement and interaction with strangers.Red Dutch Oven Header

  • Daily Create #6: Ordinary, But Beautiful  This Daily Create allowed me to be very creative and even use my own food photography.  I loved the idea of finding something ordinary that I thought to be beautiful.  I happen to think almost all foods are beautiful, but fresh, unaltered ones even more so.  While writing this post, I remember thinking about how much my idea of digital storytelling had begun to change.  I thought up so many ways that this specific assignments could be used to generate digital stories and how it could be used in a classroom.Radish Header

  • Daily Create #14: Wordsworth Found  This might be my favorite Daily Create!  It doesn’t relate to my theme at all, but when I realized I wanted to do this assignment but didn’t have time to leave books anywhere and take a picture, I remembered that I had found my own book once.  This single image of this wonderful Wordsworth book represents a digital story all of my own.  I think that someday soon, I might actually take this image and record myself narrating the story behind the discovery of the book!  With this being created in week 14, it’s obvious that my excitement over digital storytelling had grown immensely throughout the semester.Wordsworth Found Header

Scholarship/Resource Responses

  •  Response to Digital Storytelling Scholarship: #3  I really enjoyed watching this TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled, “The Danger of a Single Story.”  Not only is Ngozi Adichie an incredible author and storyteller, but her explanation of the danger of a single story is very powerful and will stay with me for a long time.  In this talk she states, “Stories matter.  Many stories matter.  Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.  Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”DangerOfASingleStory
  • Response to Digital Storytelling Resource: #5   Real Food Media is a gem of an organization that is devoted to growing the movement for sustainable food and farming around the country and the world.  They have two main core programs, Food MythBusters and Real Food Films.  I love everything about this organization, from the very causes they promote and support, to their super “pretty” and well designed website, to the ever important messages behind the digital stories they produce!Real Food Media Header

  • Response to Digital Storytelling Scholarship: #7  I am including this post because it was nice to read and “visit” with a more simple piece on storytelling in general.  This piece is a great article from the Harvard Business Review titled, How to Tell a Great Story by Carolyn O’Hara.  Ms. O’Hara writes about how to use stories in a business setting, stories that can support a project, stories that help explain to an employee how he might improve, and stories that inspire a team that is facing challenges.  I appreciated reading about something that I could utilize in my corporate workplace.How to Tell a Great Story Header

Social Media and Networking Interactions

This course really, truly helped with my understanding of ecological learning.  I commented on dozens of my peer’s blog posts this semester and enjoyed some friendly ‘back and forth’ with fellow students.  I also received some wonderful commentary, not only from students but from strangers as well!  I was also very diligent and tweeted a link to every single post I wrote for this course, determined to utilize Twitter to it’s full extent.  I found myself in some very interesting Twitter conversations and was always over the moon with my engagement with complete strangers and even with the creators of the digital stories that I critiqued!  Here are just a few samples: