4. DISCUSSION: THE STUDENTS’ VIEW
Messages from the analysis of research data so far are very encouraging. Digital storytelling can be effectively combined with student-centered teaching methods, such as collaborative and project – based learning. Moreover, digital storytelling fosters interdisciplinary approach and contributes to the creative integration of new technologies. It strengthens co-operation, promotes creativity and helps connect the school with everyday life.
It seems that implementing digital storytelling into the language arts classroom motivates pupils’ philanagnosia (love of reading) and helps them in deepening their understanding of literary texts, as students’ answers indicate:
I considered literature to be something old and ‘moldy’. With digital storytelling, literature course becomes more interesting, more modern... (student A)
I liked the combination of literature and digital storytelling. The lesson was better, cheerful - how to say it? - more attractive! It was definitely a nicer way to read and understand literary texts... (student B)
Creating my digital story made me think more on the novel I have read. The topic I had chosen for the digital story made me think more on the book ... (student C)
Most students, also report in their interviews that the use of digital storytelling has made their contact with literature more attractive and has created strong reading motivations. The digital book trailers prepared by the teacher, the digital story that the students themselves made on the novel they had read, as well as the digital stories of their classmates were indicated by the students as ways in which digital storytelling motivated them in reading literature. Most students state that they would not have read any novel, if they had not watched the digital book trailers, while others reported that they would not have completed the reading of the book and they would have probably put down the book halfway through, if they did not have to make their own digital storytelling on the novel they had chosen. Moreover, a lot of them were strongly motivated by their classmates’ digital stories to read more literary books, other than the one they have chosen at first, while most of them denoted that they intend to read some of the books that were presented by their classmates during the summer vacation.
In addition, through digital storytelling, students have the opportunity to produce spontaneous personal discourse for authentic purposes of communication, to reflect on and express their identity and to find their personal voice.
Although it was quite difficult for me to find my personal voice, to express my personal thoughts, as at school we rarely have the opportunity to write personal texts – most of the texts we are asked to write are mainly reports and essays that in fact do not express our own personal opinions -, I really liked that I had the opportunity to express my thoughts on a particular subject freely. I also enjoyed that the recipients of my story would be the whole class, not solely the teacher, as usual… (student D)
Furthermore, by creating digital stories students approach multimodally the literary texts, exploring the structure and function of other semiotic resources beyond the word, engaging in modern multimedia environments, practising alongside traditional literacies, contemporary multiliteracies such as digital literacy, media literacy and most importantly critical literacy. They acquire as well a wide range of semiotic skills related not only to the written text but to the evolving multimedia spectrum of modern cultural production. I liked experimenting with digital storytelling. I knew how to make a video, but I went further with this project. I understood how television programs and TV spots work ... how they manipulate us... For example how a toy ad, targeting at kids, works... Behind the images, that seem random and innocent, there is an intense processing ... The selection of images is not accidental, there is a hidden meaning behind their choice ... The narration, as well, conveys meanings…You convey meanings through the voice, through the change of tone and pace... There is always a hidden meaning… I liked this analysis we made, through our own digital stories, this kind of ‘unlocking’ meaning. It’s kind of ‘unlocking’ the world around you, as well... (student E)
Digital storytelling may eventually prove to be an invaluable technological weapon in the teacher’s arsenal of language arts classroom , as well as the modern teacher in general. I would not change anything in this digital storytelling project! I would change the lessons at school ... The way we do other lessons is to change… We should definitely do other subjects using digital storytelling, too… Language, History, Political Education, English... All of them! (student F)
Findings show that digital storytelling could be implemented in creative ways in all phases of a literature course. During the pre-reading phase, digital storytelling strongly motivated learners, even enabling the activation of the weakest and most reluctant students. It facilitated the creation of a framework of reflection on the topic of the course unit, involving students dynamically in a variety of activities, that included research on the field and personal expression activities drawing on their personal experiences and their previous knowledge. Students might not have responded with the same rigor if they were not to create a digital story. By creating their digital stories, students had the opportunity to explore different aspects of their topic on the web, to study and organize in a critical view their resources, and to cross out information and compose rich texts. At the same time, they were given the opportunity to combine previous knowledge, share their experiences and express themselves by articulating their own personal speech for authentic communication purposes. They have also been involved in the selection and organization of the multimedia resources, enriching the meanings of their narratives and using other semiotics other than word for their expression. Thus, they were familiarized with a playful and creative way with the basic concepts and the context of the course unit and they were properly prepared for the main reading phase, practicing besides traditional literacies and modern multiliteracies.
With the digital stories that were created during and after the reading phase, students had the opportunity to present in a more modern and interactive way their personal reading responses to the literary texts they had read. Moreover, by reconstituting, through the
selection of the appropriate multimedia, the atmosphere and the time of their books and by animating the book characters on the screen, deepened their understandings of the novels they had read and reflected both on the ways in which meaning is constructed in a literary text and in a multimodal text, such as their digital story.
In conclusion, they were able to articulate their own personal voice, to exercise their reading and semiotics skills, by experimenting with the dynamics of other semiotics than word and by exploring the multiple symbolic loads of multimedia, and to ultimately take on a more active and empowering role, moving beyond the position of the student - reader in the position of the student - writer, upgrading their point of view and finally refreshing their perspectives.
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