Digital Storytelling for the Classroom

As I have continuously experienced from this technology class, there are so many powerful tools available to enhance the classroom. There is an older, but still very relevant article by Will Richardson (available online here) that delves into these tools that are right at teacher’s and student’s fingertips. Richardson makes the valid point that many of these multimedia opportunities do not require large, expensive equipment. Given that almost everyone beyond the age of 13 is walking around with a computer in their pocket far more powerful than anything even available 15 years ago, this idea definitely holds true today. Teachers have the ability to engage their students like never before, and produce engaging and relevant learning experiences for their students by utilizing the technology they access every day.  In today’s entry, I am going to look at some different types of multimedia creation, and how they could be used in my future classroom, or anyone’s class for that matter. Lets dig in!

Podcasting

Having been around for well over a decade now, podcasts are nothing new, but their popularity from easy creation and use is hard to beat. For those who may be unfamiliar with these internet gems, a podcast is a digital audio file that is available online for download, be that to a computer, cell phone, or portable media player. Its basically like a radio show you can save and listen to whenever you’d like. The fantastic thing about podcasts are the wide arrange of topics they cover. From an educator’s standpoint, this is a variable goldmine. Any topic you could want to know more about, I can almost guarantee there is a podcast out there covering the subject. (I needed help putting together a presentation for a summer camp on why we have staff evaluations, and I found a 45 minute podcast from CampHacker on exactly that, it was amazing) So as a teacher, it is very possible to find podcasts to help enhance your teaching of any subject.

More than just having students listen to other people’s podcasts, you can have students make their own podcasts! It is shockingly simple to create your own podcast. All you need is a way to record digital audio (which is possible on almost any phone or computer these days), a program to turn that audio into an MP3 (there are many free programs for this like audacity or garage band), and then a server to host the podcast  (we used podbeam in class, but there are many more options as well.) This can be used in class in a variety of ways. One is to have a weekly or even monthly class podcast. This might work best with younger students, and would allow them a place to showcase different things they have been working on. If your class is doing a section on poetry, then have a poetry podcast and allow each student to read a poem they have written out loud. For older students, they can record an oral report on some topic. Music classes can create podcasts of a performance, allowing students to truly hear what they are making. For my own classroom, I would have students narrate their process of a mathematical procedure. One of the greatest things about having students podcast in class is that they are hitting key ISTE standards while doing so. Podcasting falls inline with communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, as well as creativity and innovation.

Screencasting

My other major way of incorporating digital multimedia into my future classroom would be through screencasting. A screencast is like a video recording, but it only records what is happening on a computer screen. It is often accompanied by an audio narration of what is happening on the screen. Since there is a visual and audio component to screencasting, this is a little trickier than podcasting, but not by much. Screencasts are popular for many educators, since it allows them to create a video of their content that students can access whenever they’d like. (It can be a huge cornerstone in a flipped classroom.) For those not wanting to make their own content, places like Khan Academy have a HUGE library of subjects, well organized by content area. If you want to make your own screencast, the site Jing is the easiest way to go, offering tutorials and instructions for making your screencast available.

Having students create their own screencast is a great way to help them master a specific subject. For instance, they can make a power point presentation, and instead of having to give it in class, they can make a screencast of themselves narrating the presentation. Students now have the ability to start over and edit out any mistakes they might have made. This is an invaluable accommodation to students who suffer from anxiety, a speech disorder, or some other need that would prevent them from presenting in class. On top of that, it hits those very important ISTE standards for your students as well. All of this can be done using a computer and a free program.

 

There are so many more ways that digital media can be used to enhance the classroom. Film making and editing, documentaries, audio books, music creation, and so many other ways can be used to truly engage students who love to use technology. When trying to teach students, it is important to remember it is not always about what is easy for us, but what is best for them.

 

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