Often we search for meaningful ways to integrate digital technology in project based learning activities given to our students. We also would like our students to develop a thorough understanding of the concepts underlying the work – after all this is the purpose of the project.
Giving students the opportunity to complete and present their project through a digital lens has one great advantage – student engagement. This in turn causes students to develop a more in depth understanding of concepts.
Digital Storytelling: Strategies and Techniques
Digital stories typically contain a mixture of digital images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. These stories can vary in length; however, optimum length is between four and eight minutes.
For student success with digital storytelling and communicating the findings of their project based learning activity, they often need specific guidelines. This ensures the project’s goals and objectives do not become lost in digital process. For example:
Watershed Project Guidelines (MS/HS)
Research and gather data relating to our local watershed using the following methods:
- Interview local residents.
- Visit local and regional historical societies to review primary historical records.
- Interview local or regional natural resource agency representatives.
- Collect water sample and compare water quality data with historical data.
- Take digital images and/or digital movies of local watershed features.
- Always be safe. Contrary to what you may see on TV, no cool or humorous shot is worth getting injured.
Using the data collected from interviews, historical records, and water quality data:
- Create a script of human’s impact on the watershed over the past 100 years, which will be used to narrate the digital story.
- Use your images and/or videos to support research findings.
- If you use someone else’s photos or images to supplement your project, an attribution slide must be included at the end of your project. Other people’s photos must be copyright free or public domain images.
- Select and obtain copyright free music if needed (ensure music does not distract or overwhelm presentation of findings) and an attribution slide must be included at the end of your project.
- Be sure to answer your research question in your presentation.
- Ensure all statements of findings and conclusions are supported by data and scientific facts.
- Presentation must have at least 10 images or video clips.
- Presentation must be between 5 and 6 minutes long.
- Project presentation must use (see next section).
Tools for Digital Storytelling Presentation
There are numerous Web 2.0 and computer tools available for project based learning activities. These tools create loads of opportunities for students to develop original project presentations through a digital lens.
The following are example digital tools students can use to tell their project’s story.
- Podcasting – a podcast can be uploaded to a class wiki or blog and viewed using an iPod, MP3 player or computer. A podcast can be projected on an interactive white board for presentation.
- Glogster – students can create an interactive poster to tell the story of their project based learning activity.
- PowerPoint or Keynote – which can be converted into a SlideShare and uploaded to class wiki or blog for sharing with other classes and schools.
- Prezi – allows the integration of videos and images for a presentation. It also offers the ability to zoom in or out and move around a presentation to slide to focus on key points.
- Voice Thread – this Web 2.0 tool not only supports a group’s presentation, it also allows others record comments about their project.
Linking project based learning with digital storytelling is natural. The integration of digital technology motivates students, allows them to easily share their work, and encourages collaborative learning. This in turn helps them develop a more in depth understanding of science and math concepts through a digital lens.