Telling a Digital Story

During the months of October and November I do a lot of traveling for work. This year I find myself at four separate conventions in a two month period combined with taking a vacation immediately following that travel. As I set off on my first outside Florida trip, I realize that this is a perfect opportunity to incorporate these trips as part of an overall digital story. My first destination is San Francisco and as you can see from the picture I took overlooking San Francisco Bay, it is an absolutely gorgeous place to set as the backdrop of a story.

San Francisco Bay just before sundown

San Francisco Bay just before sundown

In this project, my goal was to deliver short vignettes; a single concept over only a few minutes at most. Each short story gets just one point across using some kind of visual analogy. Since I’ll be visiting several cities across the US, this gives a great opportunity to set the visuals in a unique location to provoke a sense of intrigue in the viewer while at the same time not being so unique that it isn’t approachable. I hope that through this short form combined with the relatively basic subject matter that any 9-12 classroom could use these videos. Also, these stories will have direct applicability for teacher PD courses where educators are learning basic computer concepts.

What I love about video as a medium for telling a story is that it is far more approachable than it has ever been. With the availability of very high quality cameras in smartphones combined with sophisticated yet simple to use video editing software, it is well within reason to ask our digital native students to embrace this medium. Admittedly my own project is not exactly a slick and professional product; but that’s ok. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in authenticity. I literally shot the video standing on a street corner with my phone precariously balanced on the lip of a building to get my opening shot. All of the audio was recorded in my hotel room with my iPhone headset. This sets the bar for students who wish to tell their own digital stories as one that is approachable with any smart-device in their pockets.

Despite the ease and simplicity of modern smart-devices and software, students who are following this example to build their own digital storytelling projects are still going to need how-to resources. Here is short list of some of these types of resources:

Using the simple tools that come with any recent operating system and a smart phone, any student can take a simple concept and turn it into a digital storyt. Even a simple WebCam can be enough. YouTube can now record directly from a WebCam and offers basic video editing tools to let the student trim and adjust the video as they need. In other words, digital story telling with video is not only possible, it’s ideal.

I hope that this Bytes of the Street series is an example of what can be done with nothing but a simple idea and a smart phone. I’d encourage any students I may have in the future to take an idea, not matter how simple, and run with it to make something unique and fun.

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