3. ADVICE FOR PROJECTS FACILITATORS
As digital storytelling facilitators, we need to be aware of the way we influence the digital and storytelling aesthetics of our participants. For example, in the I Am UCF project curriculum (co-written by project directors), the project team encourages facilitators to show sample digital stories to participants and discuss them, as a way of introducing digital storytelling as a media form and practice. If story facilitators were trained in a StoryCenter model, and familiar with and perhaps preferring of digital stories primarily based on use of still photographs, animated using the commonly-used so-called “Ken Burns” effect, this could influence the kinds of stories participants think they should make. On the other hand, looking at the admittedly small amount of data we coded for this paper, it would seem that participants also take it upon themselves to make their own media aesthetic choices, through such practices as inclusion of mobile and social media, or the imitation of popular culture forms they have seen. Story facilitators, we realize, may do a disservice to participants by not first attempting to learn a bit more about their media experiences
By understanding and incorporating participant mediascapes more fully, facilitators can both better support participant efforts at self-expression, and perhaps help them learn to more fully critically engage with these media sources. With the continued growth of new media technologies and access to such technologies, it is necessary for project facilitators to understand what tools will be most useful to helping participants learn. Importantly, the needs and desires of such tools and technologies will differ between group to group. In this section, the authors offer a few ideas for moving forward with current university- aged populations, although these could prove useful ideas for a variety of populations. First, share a variety of digital stories with participants to open a discussion of the different ways media can be used to tell stories. Have them brainstorm other potential storytelling techniques not shown in the samples. This will get them thinking about the diversity of possibilities for their own digital stories.
Second, help participants brainstorm and locate the assets in the personal archives, especially still images and video. These might be found in digital or physical locations. Digital locations students might look include their personal galleries on their mobile device(s) and social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. They may also be willing to use images from the digital galleries of their family or friends. Help them learn appropriate ways to ask for permission, if they choose this option.
Third, there is significant interest in still images. Help participants determine where to locate copyright-free images for use in their digital stories, as well as how to cite them in the credits of their video. Many of the assets university students will use today are already digitized, however, it may also be beneficial to ensure students know how to digitize physical still images.
Fourth, there appears to be a growing interest in incorporating video and animation. Identify some ways participants might be able to capture these sorts of material and use it for their narratives. Remind participants that depending on the type of recording device utilized, they can expect to see a difference in video quality. Students interested in animation can explore video-recording hand-drawn animation, photographing a series stop-motion art pieces, screen capturing digital drawing programs, or learn more substantial animation software.
Fifth, help students identify copyright-free music they can use in their video and learn how to edit the volume and length of the recordings to meet the needs of specific videos. Further, help them learn to cite the source of the music.
Sixth, work with participants to learn how to use video and audio editing programs. This step is crucial to the ways participants will create their final digital stories.
The authors recognize that teaching all of these ideas will not be beneficial for all facilitators; it is important that the facilitator chooses tools and technologies that meet the needs and desires of the project participants and the project specifications. However, noting the growing trends and having the ability to point participants in the right direction beyond what is taught in the classroom, is an invaluable asset for facilitators.
Their familiarization with film- and social media-based media and the abundance of access to audio-visual recording technologies is apparent in the diversity of the tools and technologies they utilize in their narratives. This was evident in the digital stories coded in this study and the authors found a large number of students decided to create their own assets for the purpose of telling their stories in a way that represents a move away from traditional still photos to incorporating more film- and social media-based techniques from a variety of mobile, social, and traditional video recording tools. However, we must be cautious when assuming that all Millennial and post-Millennial participants will understand how to use technologies to tell the stories they hope to tell. As danah boyd (2014) explains,
Many of today’s teens are indeed deeply engaged with social media and are active participants in networked publics, but this does not mean that they inherently have the knowledge or skills to make the most of their online experiences. (176)
As digital storytelling facilitators, we do a disservice to our participants if we imagine all those who were raised embedded in digital worlds are capable of creating the digital stories they desire without guidance. Pinpointing the trends common in media and editing practices of university students provides an insight into those creation skills which are most beneficial and essential to help digital storytelling participants learn.
1. The authors would like to acknowledge the dedication of the entire I Am UCF project team including, Dr. Elizabeth Horn, Dr. Stephanie Wheeler, Dr. Natasha Jones, and Ms. Edwanna Andrews, in addition to the contributions of graduate student Mike Burke and the Center for Humanities and Digital Research.
1. The project has been supported by internal funding and logistical support including Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) and the Center for Humanities and Digital Research. We gratefully acknowledge their support.
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