SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Technology Confessions of a Digital Storytelling Teacher Jessie Walker, Senior, Oak Park High School, Kansas City, Missouri • • • • • Jason Ohler O nce upon a time, during us in the future: we will find ways the early, dark days of the to tell stories with them. digital age (circa 1980), • Thedigitalrevolutionwouldhave when the Internet was a been a storytelling revolution if secret information club for governearly computers had booted up ment officials, and icons were reliin a word processor instead of a gious symbols, the early adopters of programming language. digital technology began using the • Digitaltechnologyisassistive crude tools of their day to create what technology for the artistically we now recognize as digital stories. challenged. Decades later, most of us are • Thedigitalrevolutioninasen- involved in digital storytelling (DST), tence: Finally we all get to tell our often unconsciously, as we use powerstory in our own way. ful new tools to satisfy our ancient • ArtisthefourthR. need to give voice to our narrative. • Itisaspecialresponsibilityof Digital stories teachers to are simply the Art is becoming as important ensure that stulatest manifesdents use techfor workplace success and tation of one of nology to serve personal fulfillment as the humankind's the story and not other three Rs. oldest activities: the other way storytelling. As around. we are continually swept away by • Learningcommunitiesarestory- the latest wave of leading-edge innotelling communities. vation, it's reassuring to know that • Storieshelpusmakesenseoutof some things don't change. From prethe chaos of life. historic cave dwellers to postmodern • Storyprovidesapowerfulmeta- computer digitalists, our need to tell phor, framework, and set of stories is one of those things. practical processes for resolving issues, educating ourselves, and Digital Storytelling Revelations pursuing our goals. • Iknowonlyonethingforcertain • Studentsneedtobecomeheroesof about the technologies that await their own learning stories as well 14 schoolartsonline.com • • as of the stories they tell with their own lives. Combiningstorytellingand critical thinking defines an important pedagogical frontier. Digitalstoriesallowtoday's students to pursue academics in their own language. Digitalstorytellinghelpsstudents develop planning skills that are transferable to many endeavors. Digitalstoriescombinetraditional and emerging literacies, engaging students in literacy development. Digitalstorycreationoffersan effective means to teach media literacy. Digitalstorytellinghelpsstudents develop creativity and innovation skills needed to solve important problems in imaginative ways. Technologydoesn'tmaketeachers obsolete. More than ever, students need guidance to help them use technology with care and to tell their stories with clarity. A New Language LargelybecauseoftheInternet,artis becomingthefourthRand"story" is becoming a key format for global communication. Because we now expect students to produce multimedia homework assignments, including web pages, digital presentations, and digital stories, the language of art and design is taking center stage. Once a hard sell to a practical public, art is becoming as important for workplace success and personal fulfillmentastheotherthreeRs. (Excerpted from Digital Storytelling in the Classroom,JasonOhler,Corwin Press, 2008). Jason Ohler is a writer, teacher, international speaker, and digital humanist who has promoted art as the fourth R necessary for successful digital age literacy. Jason.ohler@uas.alaska.edu Web Link www.jasonohler.com

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