Telling Media-Rich Tales
Midge Frazel peels back the cover on the concept of digital storytelling in this book, showing how a teacher might start to consider using video for personal narrative in the classroom setting. Digital Storytelling: Guide for Educators is chock full of short chapters on the how and why of digital storytelling, moving from step-by-step instructions for using basic software to how to create a unit of instruction that allows students to turn a critical eye on their own communities in order to tell a larger story.
Frazel doesn’t skimp on the writing elements, either, providing strategies and tools for storyboarding, script writing and more.
I appreciated the many screenshots that Frazel provides here, giving us a visual glimpse into computer workstations and programs that would be a helpful guide for wary teachers. Frazel also provides a myriad of links to online resources that teachers can follow to learn more about the art of digital storytelling, which is “a process that blends media to enrich and enhance the written or spoken word,” as Frazel notes. Personal narratives often form the heart and soul of digital storytelling, with creators using still images combined with music soundtracks and spoken narrative.
The downside to reading a book about digital storytelling three years after it has been published, of course, is that the world has radically changed. Frazel does not acknowledge, nor should we expect her to, the explosion of mobile devices as a means of communication – from multimedia-centered cellphones to iPads and devices with apps of all kinds – that now dominate the way people compose, including digital storytelling.
And a focus in one chapter around scrapbooking as a form of digital storytelling already feels a bit antiquated. Again, one can’t blame Frazel for that, given that she published the book in 2010. Perhaps she and ISTE have a second edition in the works.
An educator interested in digital storytelling would be wise to use a book like Digital Storytelling: Guide for Educators as a starting point, and then move to the Internet for updated ideas and resources. And starting points are valuable when it comes to digital storytelling — it’s a concept that still has plenty of power, even if some of the ideas in this book are now out of fashion.
Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher in Southampton, Massachusetts, and is the technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. Kevin blogs regularly at Kevin’s Meandering Mind and tweets more often than is healthy under his @dogtrax handle.