Digital Storytelling Resources

I wish I would have seen these three resources before I taught my digital storytelling workshop yesterday . . .

The first is a digital storytelling page on Kristin Hokanson’s Connected Classroom wiki.  Kristin has put together a wealth of resources for teachers, including sound, image, and video resources.  In true Creative Commons fashion, I will be supplementing my own digital storytelling wiki with some of the resources that Kristin posted.  Thanks, Kristin!

The second resource is a web application that I came across on Jim Gates’ TipLine blog.   The service is called Celtx.  Celtx is a cross-platform media application that provides support for the entire pre-production process of film making.  It operates both online and offline.  You can view their Flash video tutorial for a comprehensive overview and check out the crisp interface by looking at some screenshots.  Here is a quick summary of its features:

Writing Tools

  • Story Development – Celtx helps you develop your story by gathering and organizing details on key elements like locations, scenes and characters.
  • Scripts – Celtx includes three editors – one for writing a properly formatted SCREENPLAY, one for writing an international standard THEATRE script and a third for writing a PLAIN TEXT document.

Pre-Visualization Tools

  • Storyboarding – Drag and drop images in to the Storyboard feature. Add detailed descriptions to communicate your creative vision. Use the slideshow feature to play the images to help pre-visualize your media project.
  • Media-Rich Breakdowns – You can add sound files, video clips, digital photos and scanned documents to your project to create a media intensive breakdown. You can then associate the media with any one of the 34 production categories, including wardrobe, props and locations.

Organizational Tools

  • Project Folders and External Documents – You can add any document from any application to your Celtx Project – PDFs, budget spreadsheets, images, and scripts written in other applications – to help stay organized.
  • Scheduling and Reports – Celtx includes a ‘Just In Time’ Scheduling feature. Drag and drop scenes to the calendar to build a shooting schedule. Generate customizable Reports to keep track of the resources you’ll need during shooting, including lists of props, actors, and wardrobe items. Reports can be printed or shared online using the collaboration feature.

Web Services

  • Collaboration Tool – Celtx has a built-in, relay style Collaboration feature that lets you share your Project with others. Upload your Media Project to the Celtx Server and grant password and username protected access to team members.
  • Private Work Space – You can also create a private, username and password protected work space on Celtx Project Central so team members can view the project using a web browser.
  • Back-Ups – Gain peace of mind by backing up your Media Project to the professionally managed Celtx server.
  • Publishing – Is your project "in the can"? Want to give people a sneak peek at your work in progress? Looking for feedback? Post your project to Celtx Project Central where it can be seen by the world at large.

The third resource is one that I just came across on a few different blogs (I apologize that I can’t recall which blogs offhand) and, also, on Kristin’s wiki.  This service is called VoiceThread.  As per their home page, VoiceThread is a place to capture voices.  Here are a few quick facts about VoiceThread, though their tutorial is a better place to learn about their service.

A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows people to make comments, either audio or text, and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows an entire group’s story to be told and collected in one place.

When you create a VoiceThread or are invited to one and have permission to share it, you will see the option to share the VoiceThread in a number of places. If you create, you will see an option to "Share VoiceThread" where you can add contacts and share with them, otherwise with permission to share you will see the ‘Share’ link, which will take you the Create page for that VoiceThread for you to share.

Think of an identity as your VoiceThread personality. Each time you leave a voice or text comment, your VoiceThread will attach your identity to the comment. By creating more identities you can share a single account with an entire family, so the whole group can comment on a VoiceThread without ever having to sign into another account. This feature is really good for parents or teachers who wish to monitor a child or student as they leave comments in a VoiceThread, or for those of you who enjoy wearing costumes and role-playing. One thing to remember is that all identities share the same account, therefore, there is no privacy between identities. If you would like a totally private account, we would recommend that you simply register a new account.

So, let me offer some quick thoughts about the two web services.

I can see Celtx being used very successfully if your digital storytelling project is a long-term collaborative endeavor.  I think that there is too much detail and too many features in Celtx for a short digital storytelling assignment.  As one who has had the opportunity to attend one of the AFI Lights, Camera, Education workshops presented in conjunction with Discovery Education I can see Celtx being a valuable resource in the production process of a long-term assignment.  I could envision taking many of the AFI steps to the computer which may serve to better maintain the engagement of students (though, to be honest, students will be well-engaged throughout the process regardless).  For shorter projects or younger students, they might get overwhelmed by the features of Celtx.

VoiceThread is a service that I could use in my classroom tomorrow (if it weren’t summer).  I usually conduct some scaffolding activities prior to starting a digital storytelling activity.

  • Stories from one image
  • Stories from a sequence of images
  • Stories from a sequence of images with specified persona
  • Stories from a muted video clip
  • Stories from a muted video clip or sequence of images with background sound
  • Stories with student-found images and set narrative
  • Stories with student-found images and student-created narrative

Many of these steps would be enhanced through the use of VoiceThread.  Actually, I think students would be more creative and excited about the process if they had the opportunity to use VoiceThread.   At the end of last year, I had my students conduct living history interviews.  They interviewed their grandparents, neighbors, an family friends about their experiences as civilians or soldiers during World War II.  How cool would it have been had they uploaded photos of these people to VoiceThread and recorded the stories from these people?  We could have put all the photos and stories into one VoiceThread that all could have experienced online.  Since VocieThreads can be embedded on blogs, wikis, and other web sites, we could have shared these stories with a worldwide audience instead of limiting them to class setting.  Just imagine the power of those stories!  It makes me think of the Ken Burns challenge that I blogged about last week.

So, enjoy these resources.  I would love to hear from teachers who have used either VoiceThread or Celtx with their students.


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One Comment;

  1. Tim Childers said:

    Jennifer, what great resources! I ran across VoiceThread a couple of weeks ago by slogging through (great site). I am intrigued, but have not had time to blog about it yet. Glad to hear your review. Thanks for filling us in on such terrific items!

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