“Here is a challenge to the young people of our country and those on the other side of the world– to go through the wall that separates the ambassadors and heads of state — to reach into the hearts and minds of peers in foreign lands with the truth as we live it, as we can best convey it– partly in image, partly in sound, but always in our own voice.” (by Matthew Formato, Master English Teacher )
Nowadays, technology is purveying a voice to people they can easily use to nurture new ideas, to provoke thought, raise and answer questions and most importantly to bring to life the reality of their individual experience. Digital Storytelling, the newest form of adaptation of stories to the last emerged social medium, is conquering more and more fields, by allowing the creation of meaningful content with innovative and collaborative tools. In comparison to the crowdsourcing movement – that comes up in everyone’s mind when it comes to digital user generated content, digital storytelling enhances the individuality to an extent that expands over chasms of difference. Social, technological, economical gaps between people across countries diminish in front of own, personal and private experiences. So, what’s in it for us?
There is little doubt that the main purpose of education includes concepts such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and citizenship. Teachers and professors focus on implementing these features in the minds and behaviors of their students. The challenges here are adaptability and rethinking absolutes. What if the learning process would be independent of time or space and would be done by everyone, instead of only professors? What if we’d have a bigger control over the things we want to learn and our passions? Digital storytelling enters indubitably the educational stage and the following project carried out by the Learning Studio is a successful proof of its advantages and importance.
A first glance at how it actually works at the Abilene Christian University (Texas, USA) indicates not only that students become media authors and digital literates (developing core competencies like editing images, working with audio and video), but also the fact that they are able to assume curriculum content in a more personal way that creates space for another kind of thinking. The delivery of this content supports students in getting to know each other and themselves better, in framing and understanding the reasons why they get involved in certain fields and also bonding with each other.
Here’s one example of digital storytelling made by one of the students of the ACU. Is this the new paradigm in education? That’s for you to answer.
Among others, traveling is also a mater of personal expectations, taste and experience. Planing a trip includes a certain level of documentation about the places you’ll visit and what is more useful than a printed guide or a quick search on Google? The answer is Broadcastr and no, the digital storytelling hasn’t been forgotten. This location-based application is just another example of digital storytelling making the experience of traveling even more personal and individual. People’s recordings about different previous experiences related to certain places become available for everyone else. Travelers can use their mobile phones like audio-guides and benefit from personal shared experiences.
Besides adding depth to the connection we establish with physical worlds, Broadcastr also adds meaning to certain places and allows users to create visions of them and share them with others. The discovery of new worlds becomes a shared experience that can be translated into art, history and knowledge.
An area where digital storytelling has had an enormous impact is journalism. Citizen journalism refers to the contribution of ordinary people to the creation of daily news content by reporting on various events. The unprecedented access to information and social media tools allow them to create and disseminate messages online. The content itself encompasses stories which are more or less useful to readers. However, there’s a general trust in personal generated content that facilitates exchange of ideas and connection and interaction between the citizen-journalists.
Cowbird is a platform that allows such content as part of a participatory audio-visual diary project. Personal expression is fulfilled with audibles, words and videos. The main benefit is the actual picture portrayed by ordinary people on different events which is based on their personal involvement, therefore dealing with a more nuanced and real perspective of life events. As a result, people assume responsibility for contributing to a collective understanding.
What are the echoes of the new digital voice?
The digital technology has indeed changed the way we speak out our opinions, experiences and attitudes. A voice, that has been for many years difficult to be heard, stands now up for our believes, for ourselves and for others. The inevitable digital literacy that developed across the technological progress and the opportunity to create digital stories has given us a competitive voice that can be heard across boarders, shared, improved and authenticated. As technology will advance – without us even noticing it, digital technology will expand across many other fields: What if tomorrow we will get the results of medical examination as a story told by doctors in a pleasant audio and video-rich format? What if, what if…? In the meantime, storytelling is an art: Andrew Stanton has proved it many times before with his work and now let’s us understand it as well in his Ted Talk: