digital storytelling in the library


I have been experimenting with creating an information literacy video for a first year undergraduate foundation unit, which is designed to help OUA students search for scholarly journal articles for their first assignment, in which they need to create an annotated bibliography.

I’ve been trying out the institutional software for our university’s i’lecture system, Echo 360.  It is a screen capture software which has some basic editing functions enabling you to cut any excess footage out.  I’ve been quite frustrated with the limited editing functionality, having previously had a taste using of i-movie to edit videos.

Some of my frustration has stemmed from the lack of flexibility to fine tune the end product.  However the main causes are the constraints it puts on the story I am able to tell.

The concept of digital storytelling has been around for a while now, but has only recently captured my attention.

What is digital storytelling? Bernard Robin (University of Houston)  writes:

There are many different definitions of “Digital Storytelling,” but in general, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of digital multimedia, such as images, audio, and video. Just about all digital stories bring together some mixture of digital graphics, text, recorded audio narration, video and music to present information on a specific topic. As is the case with traditional storytelling, digital stories revolve around a chosen theme and often contain a particular viewpoint. The stories are typically just a few minutes long and have a variety of uses, including the telling of personal tales, the recounting of historical events, or as a means to inform or instruct on a particular topic.

There are seven elements to digital storytelling

  • Point of View
  • A Dramatic Question
  • Emotional Content
  • The Gift of your Voice
  • The Power of the Soundtrack
  • Economy
  • Pacing

Digital story telling is used in a wide variety of situations and contexts.  One of the interesting areas in which it is developing is in education, and there are some great research papers, blog posts, and guides on how to use digital storytelling as an educational tool.  The main way in which digital storytelling is used in the classroom is by challenging the students to create their own digitised stories.  In this way digital storytelling helps the students learn many different types of literacy:

• Digital Literacy – the ability to communicate with an ever-expanding community to discuss issues, gather information, and seek help;

• Global Literacy – the capacity to read, interpret, respond, and contextualize messages from a global perspective

• Technology Literacy – the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity, and performance;

• Visual Literacy – the ability to understand, produce and communicate through visual images;

• Information Literacy – the ability to find, evaluate and synthesize information.

Brown, Bryan and Brown (2005)

Which leads me think – what is the role of the library in this context?

One thing I noticed when reading around this subject, was that some academic libraries such as The University of Wollongong have created Libguides on digital storytelling.  Clearly then, libraries see themselves as able to play a wider role in the education process than they have traditionally, extending their expertise to include broader forms of literacy instruction.

But what part can digital storytelling play in the information literacy teaching that librarians regard as their traditional province of expertise?  Can librarians use digital storytelling to help students access the services and resources of the library?

I’m sure they can, I’m just not sure how, yet.

Whatever the answer is, I know it involves exercising creativity.

And the thought of that makes me very happy.

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