Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two Storytelling Workshops in one week

On Monday last week, I facilitated a short, one-day digital storytelling workshop for a nearby high school in Washington, sort of scheduled at the last minute. The students took a document that they had already written in their sophomore English class, we did a quick recording, and they created very short stories (most less than two minutes). That workshop showed us that the students could create stories in about four hours, if they have their stories already written, and brought their images to the workshop already in digital formats (some of them incorporated images from a Creative Commons Advanced Flickr search). Several of the students had never seen MovieMaker2 or Audacity before, but picked up the process very quickly, most even adding music. The teachers were impressed with the speed with which these students developed their digital stories. Of course, most of their work was done before the workshop began, since we used a poem they had already written ("I Am From..."). Next year, the school intends to have these same students as juniors create a digital story from a document they will create about their "American Dream" or their goals after high school.

I just returned from West Virginia, where I facilitated two-day digital storytelling workshop for a group of school teachers and some faculty and students from a small college. Most of them did not come to the workshop with a completed script, so I added GoogleDocs to our hands-on training on the first afternoon, which let them share their scripts with me that evening for my feedback. The second day was very intense, since we had to record the narrations, and construct the stories all on the second day. Some of the participants did not have their images digitized prior to the workshop, so I am thankful that one of the workshop organizers did the scanning. Everyone finished, but the workshop ended an hour late on the second day! There were two different platforms used during the workshop: Windows XP with MovieMaker2, and Macintosh laptops with different versions of iMovie, making it an interesting balancing act. (I need to spend some more time learning the latest version of iMovie9, since I am much more comfortable with iMovie6HD.) Some of the Mac users recorded their voices with the built-in microphones on their laptops, and I was impressed with the quality of the recordings.

We had our usual problems with MovieMaker2, when people don't gather all of their images into a single folder before starting to add them to their MovieMaker collection. Since MovieMaker only creates links to the photos, rather than making a duplicate copy, when the project file is moved without the images in the same folder, then it cannot be opened and edited (with big red X's where the photos should be). I need to work out a better way to explain this process so that "newbies" can avoid this issue. But participants in both workshops produced some good stories, plus the knowledge and experience to produce more, which is even more important.

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