Posts Tagged ‘digital storytelling’

Notes from the October 28th Webinar: Accessing the Past

November 1st, 2010 Comments off

The digitizing of primary source material is becoming an important step forward in the teaching and learning of history. The ability of students to access and use high quality images of primary sources that once were confined to archives, museums, libraries and historical society’s shelves means that new learning and understanding of the past is feasible at an unprecedented level. In addition, the tools available to students to create their own digital copies of primary sources adds a dimension of ownership to the creation of history that can only be imagined at this point. However, as educators, we must ensure that this process and action is ongoing, rigorous and meaningful.

We should be encouraging our students to explore and add to current archives of material available to them. Some of the online collections that were examined in the webinar included the Maine State Archives Civil War Sesquicentennial Collection, the Maine Memory Network and the Library of Congress Flickr Collection of historic images. These three collections give a varied picture of how primary source materials are being presented to the public, and really only hint at the kinds of material available. To deepen this examination, students could be directed to search YouTube for primary source video, such as news broadcasts and amateur footage of events, and the Internet Archive for audio recordings.

The creation of digital copies of primary source material using student laptops is surprisingly simple, with the addition of a scanner or a digital camera that can create high resolution images. Scanners that can create images of 800 pixels per inch are now very affordable for most department budgets, and can be used by many to create an impressive library of digital images of documents, photographic prints and other material on a page, such as maps, plans and newspaper articles.
On the MLTI laptops, the application Image Capture makes the process getting a scanner to work very easy. For most scanners, it is a straightforward ‘plug and play’, and the ability to work with the images pre-scan is taken care of right in the application. Adjusting resolution, size of the image created, naming and location the image will be placed on the machine is now a matter of a few clicks.

Scanning guidelines for archival material can be found on the Maine Memory Network site.

Once a digital copy has been created, it is important to name the material correctly. This can be for the purposes of retrieval if the copies are added to a database, for both the creator and another user. If standard naming conventions are followed, it will make it more useful when sharing the material for anyone to locate and understand the material. The Maine State Archives have provided a naming convention for files containing digital copies, and can be found here.

Using digital tools to create meaning and understanding from primary source materials can occur in many ways. Using Comic Life to ‘unpack’ an image is a great entry point for many students: the whole image of the material can be placed in the center of a page, and cutaway focus images of the detail can then be added to the page, with text bubbles providing commentary on the detail. iMovie can be used to generate a Ken Burns style documentary (the default setting for still images in iMovie is the Ken Burns effect). Using Google Earth to locate the source material’s origin or current archive, through adding placemarks to the map, is a powerful way to build relationships to the material through geography. Building online collections, through blogs and wikis, and also through Flickr sets, provides the opportunity for the wider world to comment on the material, thus leading to new perspectives and new understanding around documents that were perhaps previously only available to a few.

The connections to the past that can be created through students using primary source material are important for the future of history and historical learning. By creating and gaining access to primary source material that before the arrival of the digital age was restricted, we can hope to build a new story of our past, and thereby gain a new understanding of who we are today.

October 28 Webinar: Accessing the Past – Using Primary Sources Digitally

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Powerful connections and understandings can be made when a student is able to use primary source material in their work. Their interpretation of documents, letters, photographs, films, contemporary reports and objects creates new learning and meaning, by placing the world of yesterday in the framework of our world today.

For too long, access to primary source material has been limited to museums, archives, historical societies as well as attics and basements. Now, with a growing movement to make digital copies of this material available online, access to primary source material is unprecedented for the student researcher. This access obviously brings great benefits, but also challenges: finding the material, storing the copies, and creating high quality digital copies that are accessible to all.

This webinar will discuss and demonstrate how students can create digital copies of primary source material available in their local area, and make the copies available to online users. We will talk about standards for digital copies of material, and work with tools that can be used in this process. In addition, we will look at online collections that are available for use, and discuss ways in which students can use the material found in collections.There will also be a chance to share your own experiences of using primary source material, both with students and from your own work.

This webinar is a precursor to the Maine Council for Social Studies conference on Friday, November 12. For more details on this conference, please visit

This session will be delivered on Thursday, October 28, at 3:15 PM and again at 7:15 PM. For information and to register, please choose the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Thanks to Jim Moulton for the image, showing a letter from Charles Potter from Bowdoin, ME, dated Aug 14, 1835.

WatchMECreate Engages Maine Students in Serious Creativity

September 30th, 2010 Comments off

Regular readers of this blog and participants in our webinars understand the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and to create and publish their work for real audiences. MLTI in collaboration with ACTEM is providing such an opportunity with their new project, WatchMECreate. The first challenge, WatchMEGraduate, has already begun but it’s not too late for students teams to get involved. In case you missed it, I’m posting the original announcement here.

Student Conference

Do you believe that students do their best work when they take on challenges that truly matter in the real world? Have you ever looked for Maine-based projects you could point middle and high school students towards that would make a real difference?  Projects where they could use their technical and communication skills in support of something that really matters? Projects where they could work independently, in teams with their friends and have the chance to be rewarded for the quality of their work with something more than good grades?

WatchMECreate ( is a collaborative effort between ACTEM & the MLTI. It will consist of a series of serious challenges put out to Maine’s grade 7-12 schools, asking students (and perhaps teachers) to collaboratively develop and submit video responses.  While posed as a “student challenge,” it is assumed that some students may come to it independently while others will be directed towards it by their teacher.

The first challenge is called WatchMEGraduate and asks students to create a 2-minute video response to, “What one thing should be done in your school community to increase the number of kids who make it to graduation?” This challenge is made real by the following documents:

Gov. Baldacci’s Economic Strategy ( “The most important measure of economic development in Maine is the educational attainment of its people and the opportunities that arise from our people’s participation in the economy of tomorrow.”

From Maine Dept. of Education Website ( “An Act To Increase Maine’s High School Graduation Rates (Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA c. 211, sub-c. 1-B) …The bill also requires the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to establish a stakeholder group to develop recommendations relating to increasing secondary school graduation rates in the State and to report its findings to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over education matters by January 10, 2011.”

Dates: went live on 9/1/10; First challenge, WatchMEGraduate, went live on 9/7/10; Uploads will begin to be accepted on September 14, 2010 through November 10, 2010.
Here’s the process:

  1. A team of up to four student members (grades 7-12) will produce a video response to the current challenge
  2. Videos must put forward positive solutions that are process-focused
  3. The video will be no longer than 2 minutes
  4. Teams are responsible for obtaining appropriate permissions for any materials used
  5. All videos must carry, in the credits, a Creative Commons license
  6. The video will be uploaded (see web site for details), along with contact information, but will not be publicly displayed until all appropriate releases have been received by ACTEM & MLTI
  7. That’s it. Now get to work. Oh, and because this is professional grade work, please do be sure to cite your sources…

Judging process: Pains are being taken to make this not “feel like school.” A rubric has been created and posted on the web site.  Judges will be drawn from ACTEM & MLTI as well as other community sources.

Rewards: All teams whose entry is accepted as complete and placed on the WatchMECreate site will be entered into a drawing for team sets of four high quality, limited edition ACTEM / MLTI WatchMECreate T-shirts. Five middle school teams and five high school teams will be chosen at random. The top Middle School and High School teams will each be awarded $500 to be used by the team to help move their solution forward, as well as an iPod nano for each student team member.

Questions or comments: Please send e-mail to

May 20 Webinar: Voices That Sing, Voices That Tell

May 18th, 2010 Comments off

Many forms of digital storytelling rely upon the incorporation of powerful soundscapes as a crucial ingredient. Indeed, soundscapes can in and of themselves constitute digital narratives — but to do so, they must be carefully constructed. We will look at some of the elements that go into creating great digital audio, including music, voice, and environmental sound, and the tools and practices that translate them into a finished product.

Joining this Webinar:
This webinar will be offered twice on May 20 — once at 3:15pm, and once at 7:15pm.
To register for the webinar, please click on the following link: Registration.
If you have not participated in one of these sessions before, guidance and support regarding how to access these webinars is available by clicking on the following link: Support.

April 8 Webinar: Images In Action

April 5th, 2010 3 comments

Comics and video provide rich possibilities for digital storytelling; however, neither affords the viewer opportunities for interactive exploration. Interactivity allows viewers to delve deeper into different portions of the narrative, and choose their focus according to interest and necessity. Can this type of flexible narrative be created without extensive programming experience? We will see that in fact, it can, and look at two very different toolsets for doing so.

Joining this Webinar:
This webinar will be offered twice on April 8 — once at 3:15pm, and once at 7:15pm.
To register for the webinar, please click on the following link: Registration.
If you have not participated in one of these sessions before, guidance and support regarding how to access these webinars is available by clicking on the following link: Support.

March 4 Webinar: Images In Time

March 2nd, 2010 3 comments

ProjectorBringing images to life in video effectively involves more than just sequencing them in a slideshow — it requires an understanding of how the language and techniques of film interact with the processes of digital storytelling. We will look at this interaction, and use the knowledge derived in two applied projects: one that focuses on using still images as its sole raw material source, and a second one that brings video shot on inexpensive pocket camcorders or computer webcams into the mix.

Joining this Webinar:
This webinar will be offered twice on March 4 — once at 3:15pm, and once at 7:15pm.
To register for the webinar, please click on the following link: Registration.
If you have not participated in one of these sessions before, guidance and support regarding how to access these webinars is available by clicking on the following link: Support.

January 21 Webinar Notes

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

My thanks to everyone who attended the Images In Sequence webinar. Here are links to the recorded sessions and websites mentioned in the sessions:

Session Recordings and Slides:
Afternoon Session Recording:
Evening Session Recording:
Session Slides: click here to download

Comic Life:

Three Nontraditional Webcomics:
Randall Munroe — xkcd
David Malki — Wondermark
Emily Horne & Joey Comeau — A Softer World

Photo Source Sites:

Additional Scott McCloud Resources:
The “Big Triangle”:
Comixpedia’s Summary of the Six Panel-To-Panel Transitions:
Brandy Agerbeck’s Illustration of the Six Panel-To-Panel Transitions:
Comixpedia’s Summary of the Seven Word and Picture Combinations:

A Few More Webcomics to Look At and Analyze:
Kate Beaton — Hark! A Vagrant
Evan Dahm — Rice Boy
Josh Neufeld — A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
Phil & Kaja Foglio — Girl Genius
Aaron Diaz — Dresden Codak
Kazu Kibuishi — Copper
Dale Beran & David Hellman — A Lesson Is Learned, But the Damage Is Irreversible

January 21 Webinar: Images In Sequence

January 18th, 2010 Comments off

Sequential art – more commonly known as comics – marries images and text to create a completely new narrative space, with unique storytelling possibilities. However, like all narrative spaces, it also has its own unique grammar, with rules that need to be understood and incorporated into the creative process for stories to make sense. We will look at some of the key rules of this grammar, and put them in action as part of the process of creating webcomics.

Joining this Webinar:

This webinar will be offered twice on January 21 — once at 3:15pm, and once at 7:15pm.
To register for the webinar, please click on the following link: Registration.
If you have not participated in one of these sessions before, guidance and support regarding how to access these webinars is available by clicking on the following link: Support.

December 3 Webinar: Once Upon A Time

November 27th, 2009 2 comments

From “Once Upon A Time” to “Happily Ever After”, every child knows the “proper” way to tell a bedtime story — and woe be unto the narrator that knowingly or unknowingly deviates from the expected framework. Some narrative frameworks have utility that goes well beyond soothing sleepless toddlers, though: these frameworks will form the focus of this session. We will also see how to integrate them into a digital toolkit, and how to use them as a basis for collaborative digital storytelling.

Joining this Webinar

  • This webinar will be offered twice on December 3 — once at 3:15pm, and once at 7:15pm.
  • To register for the webinar, please click on the following link: Registration.
  • If you have not participated in one of these sessions before, guidance and support regarding how to access these webinars is available by clicking on the following link: Support.

October 22 Webinar: 30 Seconds To A Viewpoint

October 14th, 2009 6 comments

Old BookshopHow simple can a digital story be? Does it always require text? Audio? Could it be as simple as… five images? We’ll look at Five Card Nancy and Five Card Flickr, and see what they tell us about the structure of digital stories and how to use them in the classroom. Then, we’ll refract the “five card” approach through the lens of the Center for Digital Storytelling’s “seven storytelling elements”, and construct a (very) short story that effectively integrates images, audio, and video.

Joining this webinar

Make sure to choose the correct time for the webinar you want to attend and click on the link provided:

Thursday, October 22 – 3:15pm Webinar:

Thursday, October 22 – 7:15pm Webinar:

Please follow these steps to connect to the meeting:

  • Click on the link for the webinar you want to attend.
  • Enter your name in the box when prompted.
  • In order to listen and speak during the meeting, you will need to be connected by telephone as well as the Internet. To help you connect by phone, a box will appear asking for your phone number so the Connect conference room can call you back. If you have a telephone with a direct-dial phone number, please accept this option, enter your phone number, and we will call you right back.
  • If you have a telephone with no direct-line phone number (if your phone is only reached by a switchboard), please click on CANCEL when the call-back box appears, then dial-in to the meeting using this access combination:
    • Dial-In: 1-800-201-2375
    • Pass-Code: 714892

To participate in the web conference, you will need:

  • a computer with a broadband connection to the internet (Cable, DSL, or WiFi); Dial-Up will not work!
  • Adobe Flash Player (Flash 7 or later) installed on your computer; most computers already have the Flash Player installed – however, if yours does not, or if your Flash Player is in need of updating (version 6 or older), you can download the player for free from Adobe by clicking on this link:; this is a safe and quick download.
  • An open phone line; we recommend using a hands-free headset or speakerphone.