Digital Storytelling

Someday, I will find the time to explore all the digital storytelling tools on CogDog's excellent wiki site For now, I must simply accept the fact that there's a lot more going on out there on the Web than I can keep up with. And who's to say that any one person needs to develop expertise with every tool imaginable, anyway? I don't want to fall into the folly of "toolishness" where I adopt new technology tools just because there are new technology tools (see Jamie McKenzie's website for more about toolishness).

New tools need to present some usefulness, meet some need, fill a purpose. As I explore new Web 2.0 tools, I try to keep that firmly in mind, looking for the application for educators before sharing what I've learned. It's that usefulness that I'm thinking about with one of those new digital storytelling tools, ANIMOTO.

Wait, wait! Back up a second! What do you mean by "digital storytelling" anyway? According to the Center for Digital Storytelling, it is "using the tools of digital media to craft, record, share, and value the stories of individuals and communities". It's the timeless tradition of telling stories, using today's digital media (pictures, videos, audio) to do it.

So, back to ANIMOTO. Animoto allows you to upload a series of images, choose a music soundtrack, and then set their artificial intelligence loose on your content to mix a digital video for you. It's free, it's easy, and it's fun. But what's the educational application? Well, for anyone thinking of using a blog to inspire student writing, it could be really powerful. Instead of one static image for a writing prompt, you can have a dynamic video slideshow. Here's my attempt, aimed at a job theme unit:

It took about 30 minutes to create, including signing up for an Animoto account, searching for images on Flickr Creative Commons, uploading the images, choosing music, and waiting for Animoto to do its thing.

A couple other application ideas for adult education: students could take photos using the school digital camera and create video slideshows that tell the story of their learning. Volunteer recruiters could make slideshows to post on the school web page to build excitement about the program. (This could also apply to student recruitment and outreach, too, especially for out-of-school youth.) If you have a blog or web site, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Images in the "mechanics" video from Flickr Creative Commons users: soldiersmediacenter, chicagoeye, sylvar, iMorpheus, absolutwade, Jennie R. F., Simon Langford, Memotions, ocean_yamaha, and furryscaly.

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