Digital Storytelling with Sway

I’m always on the lookout for tools that make it easy for students to be digital storytellers. I just took Microsoft’s Sway for a test ride and I am impressed. (Sway is part of the Office365 suite and free for students and teachers.)

Here’s my first creation – “Progress and Poverty in Industrial America.” Direct link to Project.

I found Sway to be very intuitive and I figured it out without much need to go the Help section. I could easily add images, text and variety of digital content from my drive or other external sources. A built in search tools allows users to limit searches to Creative Commons. Once content is selected, the source citation (with link) is automatically added to your creation – a great feature for students working on their digital hygiene skills. 

There are some styling options that let you explore a few different looks. With some trial and error I eventually got the look and interaction I wanted. Sway has a long list of embed options that add external content to it’s native tools. I’ll be exploring those next. 

Sway has built-in collaboration options so teams of creators can work on the same project. Sharing tools make it easy to promote your work across social media and as you can see here – it’s easy to embed your Sway in WordPress. Designers can set permissions to allow viewers to export, duplicate, copy or print. Or set the project to view only. It even has a built in “Accessibility Checker” analyzes your project and shows where alternative text is needed.

Sway projects are responsive and look great on desktop, tablet or smartphone. Android and iOS apps allow you to design or edit via your smartphone. It provides minimal analytics. But one interesting aspect is it sorts your viewers by “Glanced”, “Quick Read” and “Deep Read.”

PressED: A Global WordPress Conference on Twitter

I’m excited to be selected as presenter at “PressED: A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter.” PressED is a global Twitter conference (#pressedconf18) looking into how WordPress is used in teaching, pedagogy and research. The focus will be on how university-based educators and their students are innovating with WordPress. See PressEdConference18: Presenters Twitter List

Even if you’re not interested in that specific topic – you should check out this cool way to organize a conference on Twitter. It will take place on March 29th from 10am (BST / GMT+1) to 10pm (BST / GMT+1) onwards. My session PBL with Digital Storytelling Tools will start at 12:20PM (Pacific Time).

The conference is made up of sessions. Each session at the conference is based on 10-15 tweets in a fifteen minute period. Presenters can add videos, gifs, slides, links or whatever they like to their tweets.

Submissions for sessions are closed, but you can also take part by following the hashtag (#pressedconf18) for the day – or at any time after the conference has happened. When a session finishes, there’ll be a chance to ask questions.

 

Digital Storytelling with TimelineJS

My University of Portland students recently completed a PBL project, designing curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More here.

Students designed resources to enhance the visitor experience to the Memorial. Here we showcase the work of James Bayless and Kelly Sutton. They used KnightLab’s TimelineJS to support lessons plans to contextualize events surrounding the Holocaust. All events were placed into two categories: the rise and fall of Hitler and the escalation of Nazi repression and murder. See the timeline in context here.

TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. Beginners can create a timeline using nothing more than a Google spreadsheet. This opens up the opportunity for groups of students collaborating on a single Google spreadsheet the produces a common timeline.

Here’s more on how to use Timeline JS. 

How to Use TimelineJS from Northwestern U. Knight Lab on Vimeo.


Image credit: pixel2013 / pixabay

Storytelling with Maps: StoryMapJS and ArcGIS

My University of Portland students recently completed a PBL project, designing curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More here.

We designed resources to enhance the visitor experience to the Memorial. Two of my students used different online StoryMap tools that invite a comparison. Both are easy to use and do a good job of pairing content with location. The added feature of KnightLab’s StoryMapJS is that it has a built in timeline.

KnightLabs StoryMapJS

David Grabin used KnightLab’s StoryMapJS to tell the story of Menachem “Manny” Taiblum a Holocaust survivor who escaped the Warsaw ghetto, fought alongside the Polish resistance, resettled to Palestine, moved to Brazil, then to New York City and eventually settled in Portland, Oregon.

David writesI downloaded pictures from websites like Wikicommons and Flickr. These sites have photos that are within the public domain and have usage rights that permit them being re-published. Even though they are public domain, I made sure to cite them if the author requested it. I picked points on a world map that approximated stops on Manny’s journey, and in each location I added an image and blurb containing excerpts and paraphrased info from his interview. After editing the final product, the project was ready to be added to the website. Direct link to map

ArcGIS StoryMap

Nancy Guidry choose ArcGIS Story Map. It’s built into ArcGIS, a leading mapping and GIS platform. It’s available to anyone with a ArcGIS account, but you can also sign up for a free non-commercial ArcGIS public account or sign in with your Facebook or Google credentials. The site provides a variety of templates to showcase different types of stories. Once you have an account, you will get a “My Stories” page to manage your maps.

Nancy writes:  I used ArcGIS Story Maps to create this map of concentration camps throughout Europe. I used data provided by the Oregon Jewish Museum to input location and death data for each camp, and found photos from each camp online. The embedded version does not look as nice as the original; click here for a direct link.


Image source: Couleur / Pixabay

PBL with Digital Storytelling Tools

This past semester my social studies methods class at the University of Portland partnered with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) to design curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park here in Portland Ore. With historical memorials in the news and neo-Nazis on the march, this community-based challenge inspired my students to use a PBL approach to explore instructional design with purpose.

We explored the Holocaust Memorial and the Oregon Jewish Museum reflecting on how we could provide contextual information to enhance the visitor experience to the Memorial. Working with April Slabosheski, the OJMHE Manager of Museum and Holocaust Education, we envisioned interactive resources that would benefit a busy teacher bringing middle and high school students on a field trip to the Memorial. We knew that the same tools would be useful to any visitor to the memorial.

Oregon Holocaust Memorial Header

We designed a WordPress site - Oregon Holocaust Memorial to host the resources. Students used their class experience using a variety of storytelling tools from KnightLabs to create new content for our Memorial site. Other apps were integrated into the site included: ESRI StoryMap, ThingLink, SlideShare, Apple Keynote, iMovie and Garage Band.

 

Digital storytelling tools:

Place by Nancy Guidry offers insights into the geography of the holocaust. Nancy used JuxtaposeJS and ArcGIS Story Maps.

Time by James Bayless and Kelly Sutton features a timeline made using TimelineJS.

People by David Grabin and Taran Schwartz details both the millions murdered in the Holocaust and the stories of some of the survivors. It was made using StoryMapJS and Apple Keynote.

Visit by Paxton Deuel orients visitors to the site with an interactives made using ThingLink and Apple Keynote / SlideShare.

I like to collaborate in these projects, so I created a section called Voices. It uses SoundCite to add inline audio oral history clips of survivors talking about family members murdered in the Holocaust.


Paxton Deuel wrote a reflection on the project that captures the power of PBL:

What separates project-based-learning (PBL) from other instructional techniques, is that at the end of the day, after grades, and feedback, and anxiety filled finals week, students (that’s us) are left with a product that extends beyond the classroom. In this case, the product is the Oregon Holocaust Memorial website. But just imagine, if most classes were project driven, how many meaningful and authentic contributions could students produce? The possibilities are endless.

A common complaint of higher education is that it exists in a vacuum. A protected environment insulated from the demands of the real world. Professors and students fill their time with hypothetical musings and idyllic aspirations for the future.... PBL bridges the gap between academia and “real life” by giving students the opportunity to create products that will be used outside of school, outside of the university bubble. This makes the school work both meaningful and productive, qualities that every student should strive for–from pre-schoolers to Ph.D’s.


Image credit: Vintage Typewriter by Florian Klauer / Unsplash

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