Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Digital storytelling e competenze

As an ESP teacher in a technical school for the last several years, I have often used digital storytelling as a learning activity.    Allowing students to create their own digital stories has proven to be a highly effective means of ensuring that students remember what they learn.
 
Digital storytelling empowers students to be confident communicators and creators of media as they gain essential 21st-century literacy skills and reach deeper understanding in all areas of the curriculum. 
 
This technique is a combination of the old storytelling tradition and new technology.   With increasing
availability of computerized devices in schools, various forms of digital media production have become quite common as approaches to learning. 
 
A digital story is essentially any combination of a spoken narrative and a number of visuals, perhaps with
a soundtrack - along with new technologies to edit and share the story.
 
Although the concept of digital storytelling is closely linked to the use of new technology, we shouldn't forget that it is always the story and not the technology that teachers should focus on.  We should merge the digital skills with the literate education;  this is where teachers still have a role to play, even in the digital age.
In my teaching practice I often have students practice digital storytelling to help them develop basic oral,
written and  digital skills, or simply content understanding.
 
After adopting the flipped classroom approach,  I have almost entirely eliminated lectures.  Students watch video lessons at home, and devote classroom time to working in small groups creating digital stories. They write their own multimedia presentations about the latest gadgets and technology topics, such as "online dangers",  the primary components of a computer, cognitive computing,  or biometrics, etc.    Then they present their video creations to the class.
 
By following the above format, students practice the following skills:

1. RESEARCHING:  Students  do extensive research on the topics they have chosen

2.  SCRIPT WRITING:   Writing skills (a critical part of the learning process) are improved.
 
3.   RESOURCE SELECTION:    The most appropriate images, video clips, and
      other media, to convey targeted ideas are chosen, as well as the best  media for the presentation
     ( Prezi, digital magazine, movie trailer)

4.   VOICE OVERS:    Narration of the script adds authenticity to the videos and improves
      public speaking skills
 
5.   COLLABORATION:     By working  in groups, students are active in the learning process. 
      They  learn interdependence, individual accountability social skills.    (Other advantages of 
      cooperative learning  include easy management of content, visible tracking of students' activity,
      and flexibility of organizing new ideas).

6.    PRESENTATION  -   Students deliver their presentation to a real audience.  (The best presentations
are preserved in an e-portfolio that I publish on my blog and I use them again the following year for the
introduction of new lessons or as part of a multimedia textbook.   My students create the videos and
lessons that I will use to "flip" my future classes.  They learn not only from their own digital storytelling productions, but also from those of former and current peers.

7.   TECHNICAL SKILL DEVELOPMENT -    During the many hours spent editing videos, students
have to decide when to zoom, which image is best, when to add voice overs, etc.   Learning these
technical skills enable students to create progressively more interesting and engaging videos.

8.   CREATIVITY EXPRESSION  -   The creative use of technology is perhaps the most interesting
      aspect of digital storytelling.
 





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