Digital Story: multimedia narrative for meaningful learning
20 July 2011
Digital storytelling provides valuable learning opportunities because of the power of multimedia to engage learners, the value of narrative construction for meaningful and reflective learning, and the opportunity that digital story production provides for learners to develop media literacy.
Research shows that the ‘Net generation’ prefers multimedia to text media (Sanders et al., 2009). Hence, there is value in including multimedia projects like digital storytelling in course work for the Net generation. Besides, the Net generation already embrace Web 2.0 in their personal lives for remixes and hashups. Lamb (2007) referred to them as “culture mashers”.
The educational value of digital storytelling was explained by Sanders et al. (2009, p. 156):
- “Making meaning from experience requires the construction of a narrative.”
- “Narrative is usually presented as a structured story in which there is an overall coherent theme rather than a random collection of media. This structuring of narrative increases reflective learning through an active and creative process in the author (Ohler 2008).”
E-portfolios in higher education are also lending to the use of digital narratives. However, there remains some tension around whether the reflection and critical thinking associated with traditional, text-based assignments is replicated in assignments that involve the use of multimedia (Sanders et al, 2009, p. 165).
I created a digital story for a learning aid for an e-learning course, Discover: a short course in information literacy. The content of the digital story is instructional and it carries a step by step narrative of how to do an information search on the Internet.
The process of creating a digital story required me to reflect on the process and channels for conducting an information search, in effect to “teach myself” the steps, and to reproduce those steps in a multimedia narrative that is meaningful to adult viewers. The construction of a digital story provided me with a reflective learning experience.
Process of making a digital story
- Define a story objective (digital story to show people how to find information on the Internet) and story content (key messages, information sources, example websites, navigation clues)
- Experiment with software options and choose a suitable software (Stupeflix)
- Produce a story, publish and test it
- Make improvements and embed the file on the e-learning course.
Stupeflix was not the first software I attempted for this challenge. I first trialled Webslides because of the intention of showing websites in the story, but Webslides was experiencing problems and I couldn’t wait for it to become functional. The combined visual and music of Stupeflix worked fine and the software was easy to use.
Developing media literacy
What media literacies have I developed? I discovered how to chose a theme from Stupeflix’s five theme options. I then produced 58 individual images in Fireworks (images of text graphics, screen views of websites, and screen views with text captions overlaid) and then learned how to import them into Stupeflix to develop a 3:32 minute visual narrative. I discovered how to add a music track with appropriate tempo and duration. The export stage required me to pay a subscription – the scale of my story was beyond the scope of a free service – so I paid USD29 for a one-year subscription. My digital story was then available for broadcast and I had the option to share or export an embed code.
This is the story of a search for information on the Internet.
- Lamb, B. (2007). Dr. Mashup: or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- Sanders, J., Murray, C., & McPherson, M. (2009). Chapter 9: Reflective Learning for the Net Generation. In T.T. Kidd & I. Chen (2009), Wired for Learning: An Educator’s Guide to Web 2.0. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.