Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thoughtful Implementation and Digital Storytelling Process

In Education Week: Teacher, an English teacher from Kentucky talks about why he won't use social media tools in the classroom. He isn't shunning all technology though. He writes, "Being tech savvy should include the ability to synthesize ideas and media forms, and create something original. So how can we promote more thoughtful use of technology in schools?"  This is as it should be, a thoughtful discussion,  planning, implementation, reflections and then go through all the steps again!

I like his ideas on the digital storytelling process. 

These days, instead of simply embracing Web 2.0 tools, I’ve decided to embark on creating a curriculum that utilizes technology as part of a larger creation process (emphasis mine). Like the writing process, which requires planning, prewriting, drafting, editing, and revision, we can utilize audio, still photos, and video—all student-generated—to teach students to be tech savvy in a meaningful way. 
In my digital storytelling course, for example, students learn how to collaborate using Google Docs, analyze images and video in the context of literature and narrative, and apply photo rules when they shoot, interview, edit, and sequence all of their raw footage and images. They create photo essays, audio slideshows, and short documentaries from start to finish, then critique each other’s work. I’m lucky to have collaborating professionals join class weekly. I’ve also learned that true tech savviness starts with people. If students can’t communicate face-to-face to conduct interviews or set up photo shoots, there is little point in placing a camera in their hands or a laptop at their desk. As educators, we must find a balance between screen time and “face” time.
If it’s simple—even mindless—to use or create with new technology, then we must question the pedagogical value of what we are doing. That said, I don’t regret using Poll Everywhere and experimenting with class blogs several years back. After all, as educators we must be willing to test out, and sometimes adapt to, evolving opportunities to teach and engage students. I’m still trying to figure out my curriculum, and will continue to test out new programs and technology applications to enhance the course.
Paul Barnwell teaches English and digital media at Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky. In his spare time, he enjoys bow hunting, urban gardening, and rooting for the New England Patriots.