This is Digital Storytelling

Last week I introduced myself to the #ETMOOC course with a rather whimsical poster of me enjoying a snack and few tid bits of information. This week? I thought I’d tackle a few of the thoughts and ideas that came out of the Elluminate Live session last night. One of the ideas that seemed to be at the forefront of the conversation was digital storytelling, and how to define it. I didn’t participate in that session, as I was attending to much more important duties; playdoh play time with my kids. I actually created a video of our play time last night, not only because I needed an excuse to use the Frameograph App on my iPhone (I’ve been neglecting it), but I wanted to kick off this post about what digital storytelling “is” with a simple, but fun, example.


The video wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be after one view, but then again my only goal was to just have some fun with my kids and see what would happen. The magic for me came after repeated viewings; small little moments became gems of captured memories (my son and I pretending we had giant playdoh boogers, or my daughter and I making playdoh cupcakes). This is digital storytelling; capturing emotions through video. Music is optional, though like gravy, it usually makes things better.



Last week was unseasonably warm here in Michigan. We had temperatures in the mid 50s during January, and while it wasn’t quite a record, it was still depressing; snow fell, but melted instantly, children were running through a muddy yard rather then a snowy one, and the skies were grey. I used the opportunity to chop a lot of firewood as I prepared for what I hope will be a Winter filled with many more colder days. It was only a small pile, but for a good while I spent some time in my backyard splitting wood in a nice regular rhythm, humming the “Whistle While We Work” tune from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (what can I say, I’m pretty simple minded). On a lark, I grabbed an old Flipcam, captured a few seconds of video, and then imported into photoshop and turned in into an animated GIF, the  cadence of the ax-fall producing a rather cathartic experience from my chore. This is digital storytelling; capturing a singular moment of video and looping it in an act of “scholarly scrutiny“.


As I said earlier, I missed the “face to face” connection for the #ETMOOC course last night, but I’ve been following the Twitter stream, and while most of it has been the usual acclamation of “this is awesome” (it’s still early in the course, energy is high), there’s been some thoughtful nuggets of affirmation that speak to me. The tweet above is one such thought, and one that I’ve been taking more to heart lately. We make mistakes as we learn, and regardless of whether we share them or not, the learning process is messy. The process should be focused on helping identify “good” messes, and separate them from the “bad” messes. This is digital storytelling; Tweeting, liking, commenting are all ways of sending small “pings” of text out into the ether for others to consider. It’s a domino, looking for some others to knock over.


I thought finding some audio introductions to #ETMOOC would produce more results, but I found one, just one. Thankfully, the one I did find was a nicely done little audio introduction by Rod. I’m always slightly hypnotized by SoundCloud, the way the playhead follows along the waveform of the audio piece, listening with anticipation for the moment that will catch my interest and give me an excuse to fill the comment box with some response to the story. There isn’t any “whizz bang” digital work going on with most audio, or the construction of textual metaphors and idioms to express ourselves. This is digital storytelling; Using audio to capture simple, raw, quick stories told through the oral tradition that human beings have always done naturally.


Digital Storytelling 2011 welcome screen

I could go on for paragraphs about what Digital Storytelling is, as there’s isn’t very much that it’s not. There are several resources out there that help explain how digital storytelling is simply a way to convey a point of view through media to masses beyond your immediate physical audience. It can be as complex or as simplistic as you want it to be, and my hope is that this post would serve as a means for others in the #ETMOOC course to share what digital storytelling is for them. I’ve missed a number of other tools for creating digital stories, but this post wasn’t meant to highlight the particular tools you can use to create them, rather the product you produce using them. I’m eager to see what other stories my fellow participants create, and share, as a part of this course; I’m eager for something to comment on.