Final Course Reflection

  • Me as a learner

My first couple of weeks in this class was filled with some apprehension, uncertainty , and fear that I might  struggle to complete the required work  properly. I have taken a couple of hybrid classes in the past;  but this is the first 100% online class that I have taken. I did not quite know what it was going to be like. However, as I stated in my first reflection “I was both excited to learn more about Digital storytelling, and a little nervous about having to use, for the first time ever, all the programs mentioned in the syllabus. Programs such as Twitter, Flickr, SoundCloud, WordPress, etc.”   With time and the help of the class community, including the DS106 support staff, I became more and more comfortable with manipulating the different tools used in the class. For instance I was very relieved when I successfully posted my first Daily Create onto DS106. I really struggled with understanding the step by step instructions and ended up engaging in a conversation via e-mail with the DS106 support stuff who helped me better understand the process. My confidence level soared after that day and I started posting my contributions with much less technical issues. I am very glad I took this class because I can now use  a lot of the programs I have never used before. I am definitely going to continue using Twitter, WordPress, Soundcloud, and all the programs I have discovered along the way. The Gallery walk was a great opportunity to learn more from my peers by reviewing the work they have done and the tools used. For instance, I learned more about the Green Screen tool by looking at Lisa’s Gallery walk submission.

  • My co-design of this course

This class is different from any class I have taken before because the daily interactions with my peers and instructor are solely via the internet. I learned from this class that online classes require for the student to really develop self-discipline and time management skills in order to avoid stressing over meeting deadlines. It is very easy to procrastinate if one does not have to show up to a class at a given time.

Through my weekly posts and my comments and questions after reviewing work submitted by my peers, I contributed to the development of this course and of the learning community. This course was a good opportunity for me to share my experience and to learn about other people’s.  It was also a platform where different perspectives were shared on different issues. In most other classes the feedback received is from the instructor solely. I learned more in this class by receiving feedback from multiple sources – instructor and peers.

  • My understanding of pedagogy

This class helped me develop my technological proficiency and confidence. Therefore as an educator the benefits of taking this course are already visible in my classroom.  Before this class I was mainly using written stories and PowerPoint  in order to provide the students with an opportunity to use the vocabulary and rules learned in context. With the introduction of digital stories in my practice, I can now be sure that I reach more students than before. I am now not only reaching visual learning style students, but also the auditory students.  Additionally the rise in my technological confidence level has inspired me to explore the limits of the Promethean board available in my classroom. The physical interaction with the board has allowed me to reach the tactile students as well.

I tremendously enjoyed this class and am very happy that I took it over other  course options that were offered to me.  The instructor was very responsive and helpful.

A piece of information that I think would to be beneficial to novice users of DS106 is that the posts do not show right after they are published in our blogs. I learned from talking to the DS106 staff that they check and push the posts every hour.

Week 13 Response to a piece of selected scholarship: Digital Storytelling Finds Its Place in the Classroom.(Updated)

Even though this article Digital Storytelling Finds Its  Place in the Classroom is not the most up-to-date one  we can find talking about Digital  Storytelling I chose to read and respond to it because of the fact that it was written by a teacher and is geared towards the use of Digital Storytelling in the classroom. As a teacher I am always looking for new ways to keep my kids engaged.  since starting this class I have been on the lookout for ways to bring digital storytelling into my class.

The place project Tom Banaszewski  had his students do was so open that every single one of them, no matter what their cultural background is,  could relate to. He wrote to that effect that

“… everyone has a story about a place that it important to him or her … places where they felt comfortable, safe, or happy places where they could just be themselves.

This project idea appeals to me because I teach students that are multicultural, and also because I teach a language that is used across many cultures.

The questions the students needed to answer for the project were:

  • What is your earliest memory of your place?

  • What are your feelings when you are there?

  • What difference does your place make in your life?

  • What do you see in your place that no one sees?

The iMovie tips provided in this article are going to be of a lot of help for me when I put together my story. After reading the tips about voice-overs with iMovie, I feel more confident that I will be able to edit my digital story with success. Step by step tips are given to help teachers efficiently record all of their students voice-overs.

I did not find any buzzwords. Most of the computer hardware mentioned (iMac DVs, PowerPc with a UMAX Vista scanner, etc.) are most likely outdated.

I look forward to using the tips from this article in order to pit together my digital story. They will also be useful to me in my classroom.

Digital Story critique: The Journey

This week I have decided to look for an inspirational Digital Story to critique. The Journey, despite being very short in length (only 3 minutes 30 seconds) is filled with lessons that can benefit our youth today. I think this is a very good story to share with our students and our own kids in order to inspire them to believe in themselves, persevere in the face of hardships,  not give up when confronted with obstacles of any type. The story is encouraging today’s youth to be ambitious and work very hard in order to make their dreams come true. The storyteller defined ambition as “the strong desire to achieve something”. To tie this to my focal theme, my ambition is to be able to realize my objective of making my household in Senegal self-sufficient by coming up with business ideas that can profit the people I left behind, and also be able to provide the means to get them started. The lessons carried through this story can benefit adults as well as youngsters.

The 3 Jason Ohlers’ assessment traits I am going to use today are:

 

Flow, organization and pacing Was the story well organized? Did it flow well, moving from part to part without bumps or disorientation, as described in Part III?

I have noticed a change in the pacing at about 45 seconds in the video. Suddenly the storyteller starts speaking faster and in a different tone of voice. Other than that the story is well organized with very relevant pictures, voices, and music that kept it very enjoyable to follow.

Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience?

Basketball and hip hop are very attractive to most youngsters in America and around the world. By using basketball players who are very successful, and hip hop songs that urge people to be ambitious, the author of the story can be sure to reach the young audience that is targeted in this video. “I like to be like Mike” was heard in the video and it is a youngster’s dream to grow up and be as successful as Michael Jordan whose picture is intentionally included in the video. Therefore the author of the story has a strong sense of audience

Media application Was the use of media appropriate, supportive of the story, balanced and well considered?

Excellent media application with a good selection of background music that is very relevant to the topic at hand. The mix up of famous people’s speech, the inspirational songs, and the interesting pictures support the story tremendously.

Week 11 and 12 reflections.

Self-reflections on my learning 

 

I was able to complete all my assignments for this week in a timely manner. For instance, my Daily Create for this week is completed a lot earlier than the ones from previous weeks. The feeling of relief I experienced made me decide to work on tasks as soon as possible and ignore the fact that I have a day or two before they are due.

 

The anxiety of the first weeks into this class has decreased considerably. I am a lot more at ease using the tools of this class, and trying out new things. One positive outcome from this class is that it helps me get more quality time with my two sons. I show them my creations and my `colleagues creations and they discuss and sometimes give me ideas I did not think of.

 

  • Daily Create: I did take the picture of the cracks on my sidewalk and I put some decorations and stars. When I showed it to my 8-year-old son who is “the artist of the house” he suggested that I let a river flow inside the cracks of the sidewalk. So I got rid of the stars and other decorations and used paint to insert the river. My 10-year-old who dressed up as an Indian for Halloween suggested to put a teepee inside.  Their valuable suggestions helped me completed the project.

 

  • Digital story critique: A couple of weeks ago I was telling my students about how Akon is giving back to the country, the continent where his parents are from. I told them that Akon is from the same country as myself and they started teasing me about the resemblance between the two of us. Also, since I am looking for inspiration, and ideas to help “make my household in Senegal self-sufficient” (my focal theme), I decided to critique the story about the Akon lighting Africa project which is an inspirational success story.

 

 

  • The Art of Digital Storytelling answered a question I was asking myself lately: When I have everything I need to put my story together, what should I do first? In other words, where do I start.  Then I read the following statement from the article:

the story’s narrative is first made into a voiceover and then all images, sound, music, transitions, and special effects are organized around unfolding this story.”

 

  • The Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling on its part, provided me with seven important clues to bear in mind when I create my story.

 

  • A sample of your responses to CU Denver peers: I wrote the following comment after reading Andrew’s Digital Story critique:

 

“Hello Andrew,
Thanks to you I now know that the place where the Denver International Airport is built used to be a burial ground for a group of American Indians. Therefore, it is sacred ground for Bill Tall Bull and his people. Bill Tall Bull is right. “Home is where the heart is.” The correlation you made between this video and what is currently going on in Standing Rock makes a lot of sense and helps your readers be in a better position to understand the demonstrator’s standpoint.

Thanks for sharing the video.

Meissa”

 

 

  • To self-assess my work for this week, I think I have met the expectations of my course because I have devoted my time to completing all the assignments in a correct manner. Also, I have learned essential clues on how to properly put together a quality digital story.

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling

 

The main insights for the article are as follows:

step 1: Owning your insights

It is interesting to gather from  reading step 1  that while the memory of the event  does not change, the storyteller’s perspective and the personal meaning evolve over time based on the storyteller’s own experiences and the experiences of other participants of the story circles. We can learn from this part of the article that the main focus is not the story itself, but rather the storyteller. Lambert wrote this  to that effect:

“I might tell the  Johnny Ramirez story fifteen way over my lifetime, but the small changes, the way the story shifts in emphasis and tone, express something different about me as the author.”

“we want to help the storyteller move through a process of self-discovery about the why of their story” 

“What it’s really about is the storyteller.”

Step 2: Owning your emotions

The main idea is to understand what our emotions are relating to our story and conveying those emotions in a genuine way. We need to be able to balance the emotions in the story in order to reflect honesty and credibility.

” When we, as an audience, hear a story that has an exaggerated tug to emotion, we read it as dishonesty. Conversely, if it seems devoid of emotion, without a hint of struggle or conflict, then we don’t believe it either.”

Step 3: Finding the moment

Knowing what the aha moment of the story exactly is, remains essential in shaping the story.

“by building a scene around the moment of change, the storyteller is ‘showing,’ rather than ‘telling.'”

I found very interesting the idea that in shaping the story around the moment of change the audience  is lead to “a river of understanding” in which they are encouraged to jump – emotionally participating   in the story.

Step 4: Seeing your story

The main idea Lambert developed in this section is the different ways we can use visual images, to tell the story. There are direct and indirect types of images that are used to illustrate stories.

Buzzwords are present is this section such as explicit vs. implicit,  visual metaphors, and juxtaposition.

Another idea is that “… images have the power to reveal something to the audience that words can’t say.”

Step 5: Hearing your story

Some of  the ideas from this section are:

  • The more natural the voiceover narrative sounds, the better it is for pulling the audience into the story.
  • Ambient sound is another way to “help create a sense of place for the audience”
  • Music can “…alter our perception of visual information” and “…can enhance the style and meaning of the story’s text and visual narratives…”

Step 6: Assembling your story

The main ideas if this section are:

  • Making sure that we have the right amount of details and background information.
  • Balance the details so as to allow the audience to be able to understand the story but be still be able to engage and draw their own conclusion.  I like the comparison  of building the story’s  tension, with  playing with a cat.
  • Closure and pacing are important to storytelling. Pacing can be a powerful tool for creating  rhythm in the story.

Step 7:  Sharing your story

The main idea here is to know our audience and how much information they need . This can help us decide what part of the story we should emphasize during the presentation.

Besides teaching us the 7 steps of storytelling, the article also increased my understanding of the use of the story circles. Story circles provides inspiration and are an opportunity for participants to be able to amend their thoughts and acquire insights that can affect the way they tell their stories.

 

 

 

 

Digital Story critique: Akon solar power in Africa

Akon is known by most people  in the US  as a singer, rapper, songwriter, businessman, record producer and actor. But for some people in the African rural areas, he is a kind of  prophet coming back to his people with the gift of light.  Akon Lighting Africa is a project he co-founded with his country men Thione Niang and Samba Bathily in 2014.  The project has so far  provided electricity in eleven African countries. Their goal is to bring electricity to six million people in Africa.

This Digital story is meaningful to me because I am in a very good position to gauge the joy the people affected by Akon’s project must be experiencing. I did not have electricity when growing up. I studied and completed my homework under candlelight and  paraffin oil lanterns.

I chose to critique the digital story  Akon solar power in Africa under these three Jason Ohler’s  assignment traits:

Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience?

A good job was done in   the sense of audience category because even though people from  different backgrounds, languages, and locations are included in the story, any audience with an intermediate level of English proficiency can make sense of the story.

Story Story core clear, articulated, compelling?

The message conveyed in the story was presented in a very clear and compelling way. The narrator is very articulated allowing people with different English language proficiencies to be able to follow the story and understand it. Also the speed of the video is appropriate because enough time is provided in order to read the translation of other languages used in the story.

Story flow Was it a quality story that made listeners lean forward and wonder what was going to happen next? Did it flow, without bird walks or bumps? If audience members had to work to understand it, was it worth their effort?

The video quality is excellent. No need to wonder what is going on because the picture is very clear, and the narration easy to listen to. Caption is provided in a very accurate way. There is not noise  than can negatively affect the flow of the video. You can hear Akon himself sing in the background, but the music is not loud enough to overpower the narration and the interviews.