Incorporating a Digital Storytelling project in your class is not difficult but requires planning. Some considerations:
•Time - set realistic expectations for the amount of time students will need to successfully complete the project. At my former school our program ran three times a week at 90 minutes per session for six weeks. This was sufficient time for the students to complete the project, as long as homework was set outside of class.
•Understanding the process - as you have seen in this mini-course, one does not need to be an IT expert to run a Digital Storytelling course; however, one must fully understand all the steps involved and what support/scaffolding is needed at each step.
•Communicating value to students - this type of learning may be very new and different to many students, and without fully understanding the academic benefits, they may view such a project as a waste of time. Students need to be able to make connections to their language learning and be aware of their learning at every step.
•Levels - a wide range of levels can create Digital Stories. We've had ELL students with a B1(Pre-Intermediate) level of English create wonderful stories. You can consider setting a minimum level.
•Technology - While technology is not the most important aspect of the project, it is obviously a key consideration. It's useful to know that this project can be completed on a computer, tablet or even a Smartphone. If there are limited technology options, consider having students complete the project in pairs or groups.
Tips to build autonomy in Digital Storytelling
Learner Autonomy is developed through research skills, decision-making skills, critical thinking skills, and reflection.
•Script writing, storyboarding and audio recordings are key elements which students need to work on on their own.
•Teacher feedback and peer feedback is key at every step. Class time should be used for reviewing and revising work completed at home.
•The student is more autonomous, working one-on-one with the teacher as facilitator to re-edit scripts, focus on pronunciation errors in recording, and provide technical and visual aesthetic assistance.
Digital Storytelling for Marginalized Groups
In msny ESL contexts, we are likely to be working with students from marginalized groups in society. Digital Storytelling can be a powerful tool in giving a voice to the voiceless. Culture and language can blend here. All students form an L2 identity of some sort; in some situations students may be figuring out their L2 identity, and this identity may be very different than their L1 identity. "As human beings learn to use a second language, they also develop a new mode of thinking, feeling, and acting - a second identity." (Brown, 2000.) Brown goes on to say that this new "language ego" along with the second language can create fragility and raise inhibitions. Combine this with the often personal content of a Digital Story, particularly in a marginalized group, and it is evident some care must be taken to ensure students are comfortable in their participation.
Why Digital Storytelling for marginalized groups?
•provides media-based mechanisms for people who feel excluded from mainstream cultural discourse
•Digital Storytellers become everyday activists (Vivienne, 2012)
•Stories provide means to bridge and negotiate difference (Lambert, 2012)
•Increase social acceptance of marginalized categories (Vivienne, 2012)
•Establish personal connections between storytellers and between storytellers and facilitators (Vivienne, 2012)
•Sensitivity towards students' cultural limitations and cultural norms
•Facilitating change - students change through this process; think back to Ganley's research in Unit 1 about students not considering the idea of their stories being something of value. We are asking them to reflect and talk candidly about themselves. It is important to be present and to help guide students through these changes.
Task 1: On the discussion tab, think about what potential issues you might face in your context. Do you think students would be resistant to such a project? Why? Are there environmental factors that would provide challenges to implementation? After you have identified these, try to add some potential solutions to these issues.
Task 2: Provide suggestions for another student based on the potential issues they have listed on the discussion tab.
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