Digital Storytelling- Using Technology to Redefine Literacy
The topic for this reflection was inspired by a recent assignment. We were told to create an "all about me" picture book to share with our students, as a way to build relationship. We are then to create a lesson plan in which the students also create a book, as another step towards creating a community of learners.
I am a highly creative and technological person, so I was immediately excited to create a digital version of an 'all about me' book- one that I could share with my students, using a program (Prezi) that was simple and able to be used by students on their existing school technology. This program also allows for music and video to be included, and can be converted to a PDF to be printed out if required for the assignment.
This was a perfect opportunity to integrate technology into the classroom. As long as the technology is supported in the school, I feel that children should be encouraged to use it whenever possible.
1) Students are more interested in learning when they are engaged. Technology is a way to engage them.
I am very excited to share my story with the children in my classroom, and to learn more about them. "Students of narrative believe that we formulate notions of ourselves by telling ourselves stories about who we have been in the past, and who we want to become in the future." (Hull 232) My teaching philosophies are centered around relationship building with my students, and this assignment is one that I hope to actually be able to use in the future. However, as reflected by my preference to complete the assignment digitally, I also value incorporating technology whenever possible.
The many steps in story creation allow for many exciting opportunities to incorporate technology. We must "learn how to integrate easy-to-use technology into all stages of the writing process in order to enhance how elementary students plan, write, and create digital stories." (Bogard, 2012) That the story revolves around personal identity is especially engaging: "The theoretical entry point for exploring digital storytelling and other forms of multimedia... has been the rich and vast literature on Identity." (Hull, 232)
A digital format for an 'all about me' book allows for a wider definition of creativity- one that children are already used to functioning with in today's society. The ability to include video, sound, or animation instead of the standard picture/text combination opens up creative doors.
"For students.. there is great delight in pairing spoken word and music with image, often for ironic or humorous effect. (Hull, 230)
The ability to represent oneself in the format that best reflects your interests and abilities should be encouraged. Children who are interested and inspired by technology should be encouraged to use it, as it then creates more engagement in the activity; Engagement results in deeper reflection and metacognition. "There is a connection between conceptions of self and how and why we learn, and the linkage between the desire to acquire new skills and knowledge and who we yearn to become as people." (Hull, 232)
"The ability to render one's world as changeable, and oneself as an agent able to direct that change, is integrally linked to acts of self-representation through writing, as Freire taught us long ago, and through other semiotic systems. When those moments of self representation are intensely preformative, as with digital storytelling, they can be especially powerful." (Hull 232) Children must have the freedom to represent their lives in dynamic ways- and to present those representations on a global scale through the World Wide Web.
2) The definition of Literacy must be expanded to include digital and multimedia concepts in today's world.
Historically, being literate has meant the ability to read, write and communicate effectively. Today's technologies are widening the definition of what it means to be literate: We have "a most urgent need to expand our conception of what it means to be fully literate in new times...A familiarity with the full range of communicative tools, modes and media... along with the space and support to communicate critically, aesthetically, lovingly and agentively- these are paramount for literacy now." (Hull, 230)
Our children are entering a world of global economy and politics, where the traditional context of literacy must include technological comfort. The Western education system has been slow to adapt to these changes; whereas children in the UK are taught coding and computers from early elementary, here we struggle to 'get off the page'. "New literacies... are at the very center of those forms and practices of communication and representation that are crucial in our new times" (Hull 233)
3) Using digital means to create in addition/supplement traditional literacy teaching methods, and in order to expand creative capacity
To be clear, the incorporation of technology is not a replacement to traditional learnings, but a supplemental tool that expands creative abilities and depth of engagement.
"Digital stories... offer distinctive contrasts to the primarily alphabetic texts and the forms of textual reasoning the predominate in schools... Ours is an age where the pictorial turn has supplanted the linguistic one, as images push words off the page and our lives become increasingly mediated by a popular visual culture" (Hull 230) All the traditional forms of learning structure still should be present- pre-reading exercising, visioning and planning, structure, and refinement- yet all can be taught using digital tools.
4) Assessment challenges
Historically, teachers who have had access to new technologies have had problems integrating the products into the curricular outcomes and standard assessment tools. "Innovative digital practices are significantly more complex and varied that traditional literacy curricula and externally imposed standardized assessments currently permit. Consequently, many features of new literacy practices remain untapped by standardized literacy tests...Conventional literacy [often] lacks 'life validity'' since they do not reflect the authentic digital literacy practices in social contexts beyond schools. New Literacy Studies reform conventional measures of literacy by generating, implementing, refining and disseminating innovative models of digital and multimodal literacy assessments for the new times." (Mills 2010)
The new BC curriculum allows for more flexibility and therefore integration of technology. The Big Ideas and Core Competencies allow for a broader scope and definition of learnings and on product that meets a general rubric. I'm looking forward to further learning on Assessment and how to incorporate the new technological capabilities to meet our changing needs.
Bogard, J. M. and McMackin, M.C. (2012), Combining Traditional and New Literacies in a 21st Century Writing Workshop. The Reading Teacher, 65: 313-323. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01048
Hull, G. A. (2003) At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times. Research in the Teaching of English. Vol 38. No. 2. (Nov 2003), pp. 229-233
Mills, K.A. A Review of the 'Digital Turn" in the new Literacy Studies. Review of educational Research. June 2010 Vol. 80 no. 2 pp. 246-271 doi: 3102/0034654310364401