Response to Digital Storytelling Resource: #2

*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This is the second post within a series of responses to digital storytelling resources that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.

For this week’s resource, I am writing about (or “responding to”) Creative Educator and more specifically, an article titled the Art of Digital Storytelling: Become a 21st Century StoryKeeper by Bernajean Porter which can be found in the Digital Storytelling section of the website.

Article Cover

Creative Educator was started in 2007 and “focuses on effective ideas and strategies to foster creativity and engage students in the curriculum.  Articles are designed to provide you with an informed and diverse view of today’s educational technology field, including fresh ideas about project-based learning, classroom management, and creativity.  The classroom stories illustrate how educators are already utilizing creativity tools in their classrooms and the lesson plans provide specific ideas, resources, and directions that make implementing creative work with technology even easier.”

I chose to read the Art of Digital Storytelling: Become a 21st Century StoryKeeper because it felt like it would be a good ‘primer’ on digital storytelling.  A coworker asked me what exactly digital storytelling was and I didn’t feel like I gave a good enough answer.  Bernajean Porter’s article is short and brief and doesn’t exactly explain what digital storytelling is, but definitely discusses the art of it as well as two specific elements that are necessary for great storytelling.

Porter developed Take Six: Elements of Digital Storytelling to help increase the quality of stories that her students were producing.  The six elements are:

  1. Living Inside Your Story—The perspective of each story is told in first person using your own storytelling voice to narrate the tale. Rather than a detached telling that this happened and that happened, viewers experience you living inside this story.
  2. Unfolding Lessons Learned—One of the most unique features of this specific digital storytelling style is the expectation that each story express a personal meaning or insight about how a particular event or situation touches you, your community, or humanity.
  3. Developing Creative Tension—A good story creates intrigue or tension around a situation that is posed at the beginning of the story and resolved at the end, sometimes with an unexpected twist. The tension of an unresolved or curious situation engages and holds the viewer until reaching a memorable end.
  4. Economizing the Story Told—A good story has a destination—a point to make—and seeks the shortest path to its destination. The art of shortening a story lies in preserving the essence of the tale—using the fewest words along with images and sound to make your point.
  5. Showing Not Telling—Unlike traditional oral or written stories, images, sound, and music can be used to show a part of the context, create setting, give story information, and provide emotional meaning not provided by words. Both words and media need to reveal through details rather than named or simply stated.
  6. Developing Craftsmanship—A good story incorporates technology in artful ways, dem-onstrating craftsmanship in communicating with images, sound, voice, color, white space, animations, design, transitions, and special effects. Ask yourself whether your media resources are decorating, illustrating, or illuminating.

In this article, Porter focuses on “Living Inside Your Story” and “Unfolding Lessons Learned” and discusses how these two elements are the most important for storytelling.  She explains how these two elements help to make meaning out of an experience, thus deepening the communication for both the author and the viewers…which is essentially, a perfect way to explain digital storytelling to a coworker:  It’s telling stories, created through digital means, that make meaning out of experiences and do more than just communicate.  Digital stories “guide, motivate, entertain, educate, inspire, and influence others through the artful use of the story.”  Well said, Bernajean.  Well said.