I think it’s time we redefined writing or thought about writing in a more open sense.
If you were asked to look up the act of writing in the dictionary you might read something along the lines of:
‘The act or process of producing and recording words in a form that can be read and understood’
But in fact, the definition of writing is shifting, it doesn’t just happen with words. Using multimedia, such as audio and visuals, brings written words to life. My students are increasingly expressing their ideas and telling stories through photos, moving images, music and recorded voices.
This is a film made by a young boy in my class. He created a digital story which is evocative and crafted with care. It is personal, yet the theme of the importance of ‘family time’ touches every viewer.
He created every element of this digital story, from the models, to the setting to the storyboarding and the editing. His reflections on his blog and in his notebook show how deeply he considered and thought about each aspect of his creation, from the colours he chose to the emotions he wanted to express. Ten years ago a project like this would have been too complex to be within the reach of most 2nd graders. But media-based stories are now everyone’s to create.
Visual storytelling is becoming one of my favorite classroom tools, the technology available through iPads provides opportunities not imagined twenty years ago.
Digital storytelling has a lot to offer education – as well as developing student’s creative writing and media literacy skills, it also enhances critical thinking. Digital writing is a complex activity, more than just a skill. It is a means of interfacing with ideas and with the world, and a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines. It involves application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. When looking at this process through Bloom’s taxonomy, you can see that it involves synthesis and evaluation, which are the highest order thinking skills.
One factor worth bearing in mind, is that as technology becomes more powerful, there is the risk that student stories can become weaker. What we need to ensure, as educators, is that students don’t focus on the power of the technology, rather than the strength of their story.