From cassette tape to pencil and paper, THESE are my best digital storytelling tools. Seriously.


I’ve had a lot of time to consider what I would talk about at the Net Tuesday meetup today on Digital storytelling, but even this morning as I put this post together, it could go off in several directions. We’ve been asked to “show and demo” some innovative new tools and/or techniques that will help this group of non-profits take their own messages to the next level. I have taken  this quite literally and plan to go over a range of websites, apps, and technologies I have used lately to tell stories from an educational perspective.

Medium – “An intervening substance through which something else is transmitted or carried on.” link

One thing seems clear, if you think of a digital story telling as a means of transmission, like the proverbial message in a bottle, we are talking mostly about the bottles here, myself included. Going over more notes now I kinda wish I had more tips about the message itself, but perhaps I can tease that out on the fly.

I’ve decided to feature educational examples since so much of my work at SFU involves telling stories and sharing them online. I think these projects will be well received, but what I’m not so certain about however is how my teaching props (a cassette tape and a pencil) will go over given that the average age of this group is far below the gen x demographic to which i belong.

Well if nothing else it’ll give me something to wave about during the ‘show’ portion of the talk and it may help to distract the crowd from the fact that I’ll largely be ‘winging it’ for the duration.

DS106 –

ds106ds106 album art from gforsythe

“Digital Storytelling” 106 – Originally a re-conceived comp sci course in telling stories at University of Mary Washington. Completely open and online, ds106 uses social media and a loosely joined blogging framework as a classroom. (twitter, google, flickr, soundcloud etc.)

Anybody can join and contribute! DS106 has become much more than a course however, its more like  “a way of living”. BL


raiders-clip3-grabroot 01

The innovations in the ds106 community are far too numerous to cover in any detail. Some highlights include:

One of my fav. audio mementos from @DrGarcia , her audio postcard is mezmerizing, informative and fun! Audio , shared wether publicly on soundcloud, or privately via an email are a powerful media to tell a story.

hist451_walkicon_blueLast but not least, lets try augmented reality. Adding a layer of information, to the existing ‘real world’ around us is more possible than ever. Augmented audio has seen a rise recently along with the proliferation of mobile technologies, in the form of audio tours, and games.

In History 451 at SFU, an instructor decided to use Layar as a platform for telling stories around the SFU campus.  You can download the app for free and use it to explore the class assignments by walking from location to location.

Art @ Memory from SFU on LAYAR , Layar , Toozla

Notes for your message

  • Keep it short and sweet. Listening takes time, REAL time so there is no sense doing a full podcast if all you need to say is a voicemail.

  • Keep them frequent. A consistent publishing stream will show your audience you are a reliable source and if listening is what you want your audience to do, consider when and how they will be doing it.

  • Record on location, leverage ambient audio. This goes against the ‘best practices’ for recording educational audio, but I dont think it matters.

.. and now to the pencil!

Drawing or “visualization” has become more popular than ever in business and education. I have been practicing Sketch noting and Graphic facilitation as part of my regular work, I’m very lucky to have this opportunity!

A project came to our office to produce one of thos “RSA style” white board animations. Below is a reflection on that process and some of the tools and techniques we have experimented with

White board animations

Project Outline: To assist in the creation of an ‘RSA style’ animation on the topic of a faculty paper, “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media”. The objective of the Edmedia team is to support the faculty/student project of media creation.
Social media? Get serious! – Jan H. Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy, Bruno S. Silvestre

Scope: to use videos to make the paper, “Social media? Get serious!”,  more understandable and impactful. To create opportunities for further discussion and feedback.

Players: Jan K. led the the development of the project and as one of the lead authors was responsible for the script, and story that would. We partnered with a student Sarah M., who was familiar with the content and was a very talented illustrator, and skilled with digital rendering techniques. My role was to co-produce, and coordinate TLC resources, research and documentation. The team would meet f2f or on skype weekly to report updates and discuss direction. Planning Nov. – Jan. Production – Feb. – May

The internet from jason toal on Vimeo.

The story: In what proved to be a tough question to ask, what story would we tell about the paper? We have tried to answer the question, “How do you begin to plan a social media strategy for your company or organization?” with an engaging narrative and to show desire.

Several eg. from K-12 show how effective and easy this media is to generate with your class.

Some tips using regular filming technique and sped up in post production. (Quara discussion)

  • Use a large, well lit surface to draw on, like paper or whiteboard and give yourself plenty of room to stand beside the area in which you’ll be drawing.
  • Set up a digital video camera, video camera-enabled phone or similar device on a tripod.  The tripod is important to keep the video footage steady.  If you don’t have a tripod, you may be able to use a desk or other piece of furniture to rest the camera on – make sure its secure though!
  • Use your camera’s zoom function to zoom in and focus on the surface where you’ll be drawing.  Hint: it’ll look neater if you can’t see the edges of the page or board that you’re drawing on.
  • Set the camera recording and begin to draw.  Hint: don’t make your drawings too small, as they’ll get lost behind your hand as you draw them!
  • Take your footage and import it into digital editing software like Camasia iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier – if you have Adobe After Effects, even better!
  • Use the footage speed controls in your editing software to speed up your video footage.

Many apps available for ios and android if you can’y get your hands on a video camera and the software.

iOSBrushes 3educreations

AndroidClayframesLooksee Animator

We tried, Brushes 3 in early tests but it lacked export feature. educreatons has some nice simple drawing features and you can share the animations in pages with audio voiceover.

Notes for your message

  • You dont need to be “artsy” to create visual/animated media. Communicating with visuals is about telling stories, not drawing well.

  • There are a wide variety of techniques available, each with its own charm. Don’t try to turn a fork into a spoon, sue yhe medium available in its truest form.

  • Consider what does your protagonist desire? This is at the heart of all storytelling, without it you are left with a burnt out shell of a story.