Chelsi's Educational Musings

Digital Storytelling Tools

Posted on: November 17, 2011

Last night, our class was fortunate to have Alan Levine present to us about Digital Storytelling.  I had been looking forward to this class, as at the beginning of EC&I 831, our class was introduced to Alan’s blog, CogDogBlog, and I have been enjoying it ever since.  To learn more about Alan and his projects, such as The Story Box, be sure to check out his blog.  I always feel inspired to create and share after I have read it!  (For a REALLY inspirational read/view, check out the Cookie Love story!).

I was looking forward to not only learning new tools and sites from Alan, but for discussing the idea of storytelling, digitally.  Last year, I took EC&I 808 Instructional Theory and Practice from Dr. Patrick Lewis, and I learned a great deal about the power for storytelling from this prof, a master-storyteller himself.  Stories convey such power, and I find that when teaching, whenever I tell a story or link a lesson to my own personal tales, the students are so attentive and able to form connections.  The idea of using the internet to share our stories globally fascinates me.  After watching Alan’s video 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story, I couldn’t wait to dive into this class session!

Using a swimming pool metaphor for last night is quite applicable to me.  We dove into this presentation full force, and I was introduced to so many new tools – quite possibly 90% or so that I had never heard of but am excited to try.  By the end of class, I had amassed so much information that I felt as though I was drowning.  I am meaning to sound negative, as I knew that this presentation would be extremely fast-paced if we were to learn about 50 different tools in 1.5 hours.  However, I am just feeling overwhelmed at the moment.  I am not overwhelmed by the content or tools, as I would love the time to play with them all.  I am overwhelmed with everything happening in my life right now, and any elementary school teacher is probably feeling the same way.  In the next week and a half, we have report cards to hand out, conferences, I have a field trip to plan and execute, my final project to work on, my summary of learning, committees that I am apart of at work, and then simply trying to live and enjoy life at the same time while running on about five hours of sleep a night.  I am feeling frustrated because all I wanted to do today was stay home and try out all of the new things that I had learned last night, but alas, work beckons me!  I always struggle with trying to give 100% to every aspect of my life until I burn out and then have to re-evaluate things.  I wish that I could experiment more with the digital storytelling tools, but for now I will try a few and have to be satisfied with that until I have more time to play with them more thoroughly.

Alan has organized the digital storytelling tools into classifications on this page, and I am forever grateful for this organization!  He also has the tools organized by media capacities  I know that this page is going to become indispensable for me in the future, and I plan to use it for my Summary of Learning.  The first digital storytelling tool that I want to discuss is Voicethread.  I started experimenting with Voicethread last week when I had my students record their Radio Plays through Voicethreads so that they could be shared with their families and friends via our blog.  However, I quickly found that Voicethread only allows five Voicethreads to be created before you have to start paying $15 / month for the service.  I Tweeted about my frustration last night, and I received a reply that I should try Fotobabble.  I set up an account and gave this a try today.  It’s a simple tool very similar to Voicethread, so I was excited to have found a free resource.  However, while my students were recording their plays today, we discovered that the maximum recording length is too short for their plays.  I had to go back to the drawing board and ended up signing up for a second Voicethread account with a different email address for the time being so that my students can finish recording their plays.  Does anyone have any other suggestions of tools similar to Voicethread that are free and allow recordings to be over three minutes long?

The second storytelling tool that I wanted to try was Blabberize.  From the Blabberize videos that Alan had posted, I was pretty certain that my students would be absolutely crazy about this site.  They got such a kick out of listening to their OWN voices that I can’t imagine what they will do with this tool.  I want to have them create a character in Creative Writing class and either find a picture on Compfight to accompany their writing, or draw one of their own that I will photograph and upload to Blabberize.  I tried the site myself and it was so simple and a lot of fun!  I used this tutorial and it made using Blabberize a breeze.  You can check out my talking dog, inspired by Domino, below!

 

My Blabberize Video

 

The next thing I wanted to try was a comic tool.  I wanted to find something that I can use in the classroom, and Bubblr and    Pikistrips seemed to be the simplest options to begin with.  Unfortunately, Pikistrips’ site was down for maintenance, so I will have to try that at a different point.  I chosse Bubblr and again, I couldn’t believe the simplicity.  Bubblr lets you caption photos found on Flickr, and I have no doubt that my students would love this site, as I had a lot of fun with it!

Kanye Dog

(I have tried over and over to get this picture to be embedded into my blog.  I copy and paste the text that I’m given when I request to “share it,” and I paste it in to the HTML version, but I can’t get it to work.  I put it into a link for now.  Can someone please help me with this, as well as the Animoto video below?  Thank you so much!!)

The last tool that I decided to try was Animoto.  I had heard from a colleague how easy it is to use Animoto to create professional-looking slideshows.  A few minutes on the site and I was regretting the amount of time I spent using iMovie to create my wedding slideshow, as this program is SO easy to use.  Moreover, I was able to sign up for a free educator’s account with unlimited video creation.  Hooray!  I was able to quickly start my video, as my educator’s account was instantly approved.  Unfortunately, I had to upload my pictures twice, as the first time Animoto hung up halfway through my upload.  However, once my photos were uploaded, everything fell into place so easily.  I also wasn’t very keen on only using 50 letters to caption my photos, and how you can only write on a slide by adding font to a picture in Photoshop, then uploading the picture.  Oh well, perhaps these features will be added in the future.  Keeping with the dog theme, I bring you Lucy, Animoto-version!

Lucy!

Before I conclude this blog post, I want to recommend two other great digital storytelling sites.  The first is Blurb.  My wedding photographer created an album for us by uploading our pictures into Blurb.  I cannot compare it to other photo book sites, as I have not had experience creating books of my own, but she swears by this site, and the end result is of such beautiful quality.  A friend of mine takes pictures of her children and makes them into storybooks for the kids using this site.

The second tool that I want to recommend is an App for the iPhone called 8mm Vintage Camera.  This App allows you to shoot video in a vintage 8mm style.  Our photographer, Carey Shaw, created this video of our wedding using the App, uploaded music to it, and pieced the mini-videos together.  (If anyone needs a photographer, I HIGHLY recommend her!)

I had fun using these tools and although I am feeling the stress of November as a teacher and student, at least I know that these tools will be online, waiting for me to try when I have more free time.  Have a great week, everyone!

8 Responses to "Digital Storytelling Tools"

Holy man you have been busy. I agree with you about now that we have sites like cogdog to go to we can check out more when things slow down as teachers. When that will be I don’t know. Thanks for sharing your wedding video, it looked like a great day. Loved the cake.

Lol I don’t know when it will slow down either! Thanks so much for the kind words about my wedding. It was a very fun day!

Wow. I feel overwhelmed and behind schedule…take out the dog and toss in a couple kids and your blog is basically how I have been feeling. Really I can’t even find the time to blog about it! I used animoto for my summary of learning. The problem for me is timing what I am saying with the words and pictures on the screen. I also didn’t realize that when the music of the song ended so did the slideshow!

I am also excited to start using the flickr ideas for drama!

I am excited to see what you have planned with Animoto! I am having problems with my timing too. My summary is too long and I’m trying to edit it down, and it’s seeming impossible lol. I hope that you figure out the problem with the timing. I wish I could help!

I love the 8mm video of your wedding! That turned out so great, and looked like a wonderful day!

I just wanted to mention that I get to work with Patrick for an ongoing First Nations digital storytelling project and I’m really excited as I’ve heard so much about his storytelling ability. While I know many of the digital tools, there is a lot to learn about the art of storytelling and I’m looking forward to the experience.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the tools here.

Oh, your experience with Patrick will be so rewarding! He has such a knack for telling stories – he’s really compelling. I bet your kids will benefit from your work with Patrick, too, as you’ll have a lot of new storytelling ideas!

Thanks for the kind words about our wedding video. Carey did a wonderful job of it and it was such a great day (despite a massive hailstorm/ downpour as we were leaving for the church!).

What a great post and I’m on the kickin’ wedding video! You and the the whole crew looked stunning!!! What great detail in the planning.

Great work in just taking a few minutes to try all these tools out and sharing them. You’ve done a lot of work – despite not having time ;)

May the hours tick slowly.

Thanks Leslie! “May the hours tick slowly”…what a great quote, and so applicable right now!

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