Pete Roythorne gets to grips with digital storytelling

If you believe television, that Xboxes, iPods and mobile phones are killing the age-old art of telling stories, then think again. Digital storytelling brings storytelling into the 21st century.

Digital stories are short films - up to about three minutes long - made on a computer using personal photos, digital video, animations andor drawings. You probably already have the software you need - Windows Movie Maker or Apple's iMovie - to produce professional-quality digital productions.

Digital storytelling is a powerful classroom tool, which can cover everything from explaining scientific theories to more personal stories. It is more powerful than other forms of storytelling, as it can easily make students' work available to a global audience by being published on the internet. This motivates students to create their best work.

It's important that any digital story has structure - without it, children tend to focus on adding images, music and other elements, instead of focusing on content. Having come up with ideas for stories, a storyboard (a strategy for how the story is to run, which can be as detailed as you like, down to specific shots) is essential to help focus a final product.

Pupils can then do research and gather visual resources, text and sound.

Pictures can be anything from still images taken by the pupils, to digital or hand-drawn sketches. A scanner will be useful - you can buy one for less than pound;50.

Recording voice-overs is one of the most time-consuming parts of the project. Even in a computer lab, only one student can record at a time, or the "background noise" can become overwhelming. It's worth finding another way. You could use a digital video camera and record the voice-over with the lens cap on. This works well as it can be done at a distance from the main work area.

The best way to understand digital storytelling is to look at some examples; see the links below to help you do this. Everyone has a story to tell and modern technology allows children to tell it in their own way.

What stories could your children tell?

Links Telling Lives Center for Digital Storytelling

Creative Narrations www.creativenarrations.netsitestorybook Digital Storytelling Association

Digital Storytelling Education

Digital Griot

www.digiclub.orgprogprojDigital Storytelling Tutorial

Silence Speaks www.silencespeaks.orgstories.html

Streaming Stories

Stories of Service project

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