Digital Storytelling

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Digital Storytelling, Holocaust

I’ve had students make digital stories in two of my courses so far. In Spring 2012, I had students create digital stories as part of a grant on the use of mobile technologies. Whereas I had previously had students make digital stories using VoiceThread, in Spring 2012, I asked students to use mobile apps.

Not all students had the Android or iOS devices needed to use these apps, but many did, and their work was made so much easier by these apps.

For the uninitiated, Digital Storytelling allows you to create a slideshow of images and to add narration. In my classes, I wanted students to use digital storytelling to reflect on their learning. Too often, students are affected by classes, but don’t have the opportunity to reflect on their transformations. Even more than this, they might not see learning as transformation at all. In a world that sometimes confuses education with knowledge acquisition, it is not surprising that students sometimes make the same mistake.

Last Spring I used Digital Storytelling in my course, “Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust.” This is a challenging course that asks students to confront the history of Christian anti-Judaism, to learn about the Holocaust, and to read theological responses to both. It is difficult course for all students, but perhaps especially so for religious Christians, who are often learning about Christian anti-Judaism for the first time. It is also a difficult course interpersonally, as the course brings together students of different religious and spiritual orientations (including atheist), and asks them to discuss serious moral and religious issues. It is a course where students must learn how to listen as well as how to talk, and how to disagree respectfully with others. For these reasons, it may be the most important course that I teach.

After researching several Digital Storytelling apps, I settled on StoryRobe as the easiest. It has the limitation of allowing only for narration and not also for a music track, but students easily worked around this issue.

I will be doing this project in this class again this semester. The lessons I learned from last time include starting earlier and focusing more on the issue of story throughout the semester. After all, most of the authors we discuss have their own stories of how the Holocaust “found” them, how they were drawn into these gut-wrenching issues, and how they think about themselves today. In asking my students to create digital stories, I am asking them to add their voices to these others, to tell their own story of learning and transformation in the shadow of the Holocaust.

Here are two examples from my class:

[Photo: “Story Cubes” by quimby, licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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