What is Digital Storytelling?

I am presenting “Teaching History in the Digital Era”  Friday December 2, at 2 p.m. at the National Social Studies Conference held in Washington D.C. The presentation is designed to help teachers bring the past to life by incorporating multimedia resources into their teaching. Participants will learn new Digital technologies to make history come alive. 

The ancient tradition of storytelling meets the digital age. When students create a movie or interactive slideshow to tell their story, learning becomes personal. By incorporating digital storytelling projects into learning, you can reach today’s students and, at the same time, help them to develop the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.


Digital storytelling learning projects may not be a cure-all for reluctant learners, bored students, or students who have trouble retaining information, but the digital storytelling experience in the classroom confirms this approach is exciting and a compelling way to engage students in the learning process and to inspire them to become lifelong learners.



25 Technology Resources to try in 2012

1. Edmodo � This microblogging site was created specifically for teachers and students. Edmodo can be used to share notes, files, assignments, grades, and events.

2. Edublogs � Edublogs is free blogging platform for teachers and students who want to start their own education-related blog. Special features include 20MB of free space, import/export capability, and blogger tutorials.

3. Google Docs � This free web based suite of tools from Google gives classrooms the ability to collaborate and share assignments online. The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool.

4. Quizlet � Quizlet is a free flashcard creation site that can be used to study, create, and share flashcards. Teachers can create their own flashcards for students or use pre-submitted cards.

5. Diigo � Ever wish you could highlight and add sticky notes to the web? Diigo lets you do that. This handy web app also allows you to share your finding with others.

6. Remember The Milk � This free web app wasn’t specifically designed for teachers, but it is definitely one of the best ways to manage tasks online.

7. Wunderlist � Wunderlist makes it downright simple to organize your daily life. Just create a list and start filling it with things that need to be completed. Keep track of your more important tasks with reminders and notifications. It even syncs.

8. Cel.ly � Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cellphone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.

9. ThinkFold – � ThinkFold is a structured environment for groups to collaborate on documents, presentations, ideas, and plans. This free app is perfect for students and teachers who want to brainstorm, interact together on an outline, and make changes in real-time.

10. Animoto �  Animoto is designed to bridge the gap between the high production value of film and television, and the more “amateur” feeling of most user-created videos and photo albums.

11. Embed Plus � Embed Plus allows users to share YouTube videos more effectively.  EmbedPlus allows users to seamlessly and freely upgrade video embeds with attractive features.

12.  Web Doc � Participants can put almost anything into a WebDoc like a glog : pictures, videos and music from all over the web, but also interactive applications like games, polls, slideshows or web services.

13. Socrative � is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games for assessment.

14. Grade Chart � is a simple grading tool for teachers and professors. Enter in the number of questions for the assignment you’re grading, and this will generate a quick reference chart to help you

15. Tinychat � provides dead simple, free to use, video chat rooms that just work! Enjoy chatting with your friends or making new ones, just create a chat room.

16.  Audioboo � is a simple website that allows users to record free of charge online. It could be used with storytelling, interviews, radio shows, foreign language assessments, and personal messages for families.

17. WebNotes � makes it easy to highlight and add notes to web pages from directly within your web browser. Organize your notes, bookmarks, and documents into folders, or tag them for easy reference.

18. . Channel Me � is an easy and useful way to share a website with another person. Channel is web based software to surf the web together, add notes, and chat on the same webpage in real-time.

19. Dropbox � is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again.

20. Dipity � Create an interactive, visually engaging timeline in minutes. Use dynamic visualization tools to display photos, videos, news and blogs in chronological order.

21. Wallwisher � is a Web 2.0 free online tool where anyone can build a “wall”.  Discussing a new idea? Taking notes? Giving feedback? Voicing opinion?

22. VoiceThread � is an application that can be used right from your browser, which allows you to use different types of media to create an interactive slideshow.

23. Jing � is a screen sharing tool. It allows you to capture anything on your computer screen either as a still image or as a video up to 5 minutes long.

24. JogTheWeb � is free Web 2.0 tool that allows users to assemble tidy packages of web content. For teachers it can be a tool for providing students with easy access to guided learning.

25. Livebinders � is a digital 3 ring binder that you can put virtually anything into; webpage, PDF, document, image, or video. Everything is organized by tab

Make Videos Student Friendly with EmbedPlus

I have enjoyed using Tubechop, but I recently stumbled upon another program called EmbedPlus. Embed Plus allows users to share YouTube videos more effectively.  EmbedPlus allows users to seamlessly and freely upgrade video embeds with attractive features that the standard YouTube player does not currently offer. Given a YouTube link and a few seconds, it applies APIs to generate enhanced embed code that adds features like: DVD-like controls, “chopping”, real-time Internet reactions, third-party annotations, and more. EmbedPlus could be useful to anyone wanting to offer viewers more without having to actually alter original video content.

Using EmbedPlus is very simple: 

1. Enter the URL of your You Tube video

2. You can then use the EmbedPlus features to make the youtube video like a DVD control such as scene skipping, movable zoom, third party annotations, slow motion on-demand, and instant replay. You can even set a start time as well as fast forward to a specific scene. Teachers can even add words to the video to explain a particular scene.

3. When finished, click “get code” and either copy the new url for your video or embed the code into your website or blog to share with others.


Here are some ways teachers can use Edmbed Plus in the classroom: 

Chapter/Scene Skipping

Videos often have specific segments or turning points that viewers may wish to jump back and forth to, especially after the first view. A video could span multiple topics and/or contain different speakers. Teachers can mark each turning point for easy navigation using the jump buttons on the player. Alternatively, if a video has certain ‘skippable’ parts that are not relevant to the desired lesson, the beginning of the relevant parts could be marked for direct access to them.

Movable Zoom and Slow Motion

These are the other DVD-like controls. They can be particularly valuable for science and nature videos in which students are to make observations. To illustrate, a video might contain experiments and chemical reactions that may happen too quickly for normal playback. Slow motion and zoom offers students a chance to get a closer and clearer understanding of the event. They can also provide greater accessibility that some students might need for viewing text and other objects within a video.

Third Party Annotations

Teachers might wish to offer additional information beyond what is presented in a video. Such information could be effectively displayed using annotations that popup at user-defined times. EmbedPlus offers such a feature for third-parties–i.e. anyone that wishes to embed a video. While annotations/captions are also possible through YouTube, they can only be added by a user with access to the video’s channel. EmbedPlus complements YouTube in this way. You will also find that with EmbedPlus’ annotations, the control bar of the player displays the text to avoid blocking the video screen and possibly distracting viewers.

Real-time Reactions

This optional feature displays YouTube and Twitter reactions right inside the player. We are speculating that some comments from YouTube and Twitter can offer students useful viewpoints from others that have viewed a video, particularly those outside the students’ classroom. This of course depends on the nature of the commenters and tweeters.


Web Doc is like Glogster, but so much better

I  have been looking for some nice alternatives to Glogster, ever since they have announced that the free version will only allow each student to create one free Glog. I discovered  Web Doc. Web Doc is very user-friendly and allows students to be creative with their project layout. My students are creating a Web Doc on the Cold War. Here is the rubric I am using through Google Apps.  Here is a link to a how to use Web Doc guide.

I really like the social feature and the accessibility of Web Doc as compared to Glogster. Participants can put almost anything into a WebDoc : pictures, videos and music from all over the web, but also interactive applications like games, polls, slideshows or web services such as Google Maps and Twitter. Anyone can start a conversation naturally with just one friend or all of them, and users can both friend people and follow conversations.

Here are two sample projects from my class. Project 1 and Project 2 

webdoc in action from webdoc on Vimeo.