Reflection on My Digital Story Project

Hoonah, c. 1912 (source)
(image used in my video)
I recently created a video for my digital storytelling project, assigned by my UAS technology class. Watch it here: "Who Were the Waashdan Ḵwáan?" As you'll see, it's all about the transoceanic fur trade of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that involved the Tlingit, other Northwest Coast indigenous nations, and the Waashdan Ḵwáan—a group whose identity the students will discover as they watch the video.

In reflecting on the project, I find that creating a script, story table, and story map helped me create the video much more easily. (See here.) It took me a while to get used to the features of Apple's iMovie application, even though I've used it a few times before. Still, it was relatively simple to use: I began build it from some video footage of myself, then dragged in images, and added text, a song, and a voiceover.

Using videos in the classroom is certainly useful, but I wonder whether short, time-intensive, teacher-created videos like this one are an efficient use of educators' time. I did learn some things while making my video: I found some great images and websites, and gained some knowledge of iMovie. I'm sure with practice I could create videos like this more quickly, too, but still—it requires a lot of work for just two minutes of engagement with students.

sea otter pelts (source)
(image used in my video)
It would, perhaps, be much more useful to have students create videos like this themselves, in order to teach small pieces of information to their peers. Creating the video is a learning process in itself, and a more intense one than making a PowerPoint, for example. Videos also have the advantage of being easily shareable and re-watchable, as opposed to ungainly PowerPoints. As a subject, history has the advantage of touching a limitless number of facts and stories that are potentially worth sharing, so students might easily make videos on a small topic of their choice related to the class's current unit or lesson.

A video-creation assignment for students would be a great way to diversify the types of work they do. As my technology professor notes, however, it would be best to have students prepare for an assignment like that by doing the same type of script, story table, and story map that I did, before moving to use the actual technology. In fact, just these non-technological steps could constitute an assignment on their own, though the students might be disappointed. As my professor emphasized when my peers and I saw him last summer, technological literacy is essential for young people today. As I've realized at Kayhi, many students aren't as "tech-savvy" as society assumes. Everyone needs plenty of practice using information-age tools to share ideas and stories in new ways—including me.

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