CROSSING PEDAGOGICAL BOUNDARIES WITH DIGITAL STORIES: HOW RESEARCH PROJECTS CAN BECOME MULTIMODAL
Southern New Hampshire University (UNITED STATES)
Digital Storytelling (which sometimes falls under other names, including digital essays, electronic memoirs, etc.) is a multimodal approach to relaying content to the audience. By combining visual elements (both still photography and video) and audio elements (including narration and music), students have the ability to develop creative ways to share stories – whether personal, narrative, creative, research-based (Bou-Franch, 2012; Porter, 2006), or even works of fiction (Xu, Park, and Baek, 2011, p. 181). In fact, McLellan (2006) describes multimodal composition as “…far more intimate and participatory…with deep and lasting power” (p. 69). Additionally, tracking student learning through long-term problem-based projects creates a window for teachers to see into the way students process and integrate research, themes, stories, and narratives.
Although digital storytelling does not replace the critical thinking tasks and writing proficiency required in traditional research papers, the process of creating a final digital story can augment and increase these skills. Additionally, creating digital stories requires students to think more about how information is conveyed through a variety of mediums, write narration, address a timeline, and have an increased sense of audience awareness. The students involved in these projects often increase technical skills (Westman, 2012), address decision-making (Porter, 2006), integrate reflection (LaFrance and Blizzard, 2013), and the ability to “speak to both parts of the human mindits – reason and emotion” (McLellan, 2006, p. 71). Figen points out that multimodal projects can even address the “cognitive overload” students often face when processing meaningful information (2014, p. 95). In short, students learn by doing. As Xu, Park, and Baek (2011) argue, “[Students] perform multiple tasks within the virtual world as researchers, playwrights, designers, media producers, and educators (p. 181).
The presenter will discuss both the purpose of assigning digital storytelling projects in the classroom and ways they can be used in other environments while also addressing the “convergence of student-centered learning strategies” that includes student engagement, reflection, technology, and project-based learning (Barrett, 2006). By anchoring the discussion in research regarding best practices (Sylvester and Greenidge, 2009; Sheneman, 2010), the speaker will also outline specific guidelines to implementing multimodal projects into the classroom.
Last, specific guidelines for creating digital projects in the classroom will be shared. Additionally, the presentation will discuss ways in which this process can be used independently or integrated into a course where research is already taking place as part of the existing course outcomes.
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