Digital Storytelling Workshop: Part 2, Storytelling — “Not Just for Kindergarten”

I’ve been collecting so many resources on digital storytelling I don’t even know where to start. Then I realized I never finished telling the beginning of my own journey into this space, not even in outline form, really. So, back to the beginning.

Storytelling: Not Just For Kindergarten: Brief introduction to digital storytelling in academia
Prezi: Storytelling, Not Just for Kindergarten

Part of my job as the Emerging Technologies Librarian is to not just prowl the forest paths and gullies or scan the distant horizons (think “Native Guide” or “Indian Scout”) but also to interpret, distill what’s most important and relevant, and bring back the information to the leaders and teams I’m working with and for (imagine the scout gliding into camp in the dark of the night and slipping into the tent of the Colonel or platoon leader). Sometimes, they hear what I say and immediately grasp the importance and act on it. Sometimes they don’t. In the latter case, that doesn’t mean I should just shut up and let it drop, but that perhaps I haven’t communicated the importance of it as well as I might have done. Digital storytelling is one of those topics that is falling in the latter camp. Of course, the reverse is also true — sometimes they send me off to scout something and I don’t, at first, understand why they want me to do it. It all tends to work out, and that’s part of teamwork and collaboration.

While storytelling is embedded in virtually every academic discipline (research papers are themselves a kind of storytelling), there are certain disciplines in which you cannot imagine how the discipline would survive if one removed the stories. Can you imagine History without stories? Can you imagine teaching Psychiatry without case studies? And then, of course, there are disciplines where the stories are the field of study, like theater, drama, literature and many other humanities. So it really makes sense that when you start to look at the presence of storytelling activities around campus, well, there is a LOT of it going on.

Then you think of how central Youtube has become to many types of communication these days, including education and personal learning. Even professional communicators have had to learn to modify the way they tell stories to give more of that sense of intimacy and authenticity that has evolved from real people’s real stories put out for the world. Even more broadly, the range and variety of online communication is intertwining with offline communications. Storytelling hasn’t just been in books since the first of the “movies” and “talkies.” It again makes sense, at least to me, that people are formally and purposefully trying to teach and learn the digital literacies necessary to communicate effectively in the online environments. Digital storytelling and digital media assignments are all part of the new literacies.

For a presentation to other library staff, I made the Prezi linked at the beginning of this post in order to try to give a little of the background of these concepts and what I’ve been seeing around campus here. Take a look at it. This won’t be the end of my talking about these concepts here.

My thanks to Cheryl Diemeyer and Daniel Weinshenker for their guidance, oversight, thoughts, quotes, inspiration which largely inspired the above.


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