Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Developing Literacies through Digital Stories


All students must obtain basic literacies in fundamental areas to succeed in college. Students have often found this task tedious, resulting in lack of engagement and motivation. This session takes a look at redefining the way students meet basic literacies through digital stories. This approach increases student engagement while leveraging social negotiation and self-reflection to create a learning community. This approach can be implemented in a wide variety of disciplines and settings. This blog post describes the theories behind the use of Digital Storytelling in Education. For information on tools that can be used for Digital Storytelling, view my previous post Digital Storytelling Toolbox.

What is DST?

Digital storytelling is simply the use of digital tools to tell stories. If you want your students to engage in digital storytelling, you need to have them use digital tools to convey stories. Stories can be fictional or non-fiction and range in subject matter.

The Narrative Arc

A key component to creating quality digital stories is understanding the progression of a story. Students should learn and understand the narrative arc, which is the stories’ journey from beginning to end and how it gets there. Every story should have a character, a challenge, and a resolution.



Several theories create the basis for the use of DST in courses. Constructivism plays a central role in the pedagogy for DST. Constructivism's ideals of learners constructing their own knowledge through exploration of a chosen topic is a core facet of DST. Students will naturally see connections between what they are learning and why, because the final product is something that they have created.

Multiple Intelligences

The many faces of MI can be reflected through each individual student’s approach to DST. DST allows a student to learn and create a story in a way that enhances their MI.  As Ohler states, “Most of Gardner’s intelligences, from the linguistic and the musical to the kinesthetic and intrapersonal, are important in digital stories if we understand how to teach DST effectively.” A student who is strong in Musical-Rhythmic may choose to create a DST in the form of a song. A Bodily-Kinesthetic student may choose to record their observations and daily movements to create a story about their daily life or activities. Interpersonal intelligence through journalistic and documentary DSTs that required interviewing skills.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

DST naturally draws from Bloom's taxonomy through a character's progression throughout a story. Bloom's (1964) Taxonomy of cognitive processes proposes levels of transformation in regards to how we learn, or how a character learns through a story. Bloom's taxonomy of affective domain proposes levels of transformation in emotions and feelings, which can also be applied to characters within a story. So while you are using Bloom's taxonomy to gauge student progression, you can also use it to prompt discussion of character and story progression.


Ohler, Jason (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Corwin Press.

Reigeluth, C. M. (1983). Instructional design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. Inc.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

KompoZer a Dreamweaver Alternative

As I previously mentioned, I have recently found myself relocated and in a new position. Along with this came all of the expectation that I know my way around HTML and other such things. The downfall is that I have always worked with HTML in Adobe Dreamweaver, which I adore. Due to the completely new position and new computer, the fantastic (and expensive) Dreamweaver was not installed. I was handed a Microsoft Word syllabus and asked to create it in HTML so that it could later be copy/pasted into Blackboard. I found myself with the "What to do?" question repeated in my mind.

Sure, I had the capability to compose the entire thing in Notepad by hand. Or use Microsoft to develop a garbled HTML that I would then have to clean up in Notepad. Lucky for me, I am a master Googler and a proponent of all open-source and free tools! Surely, I could find a Dreamweaver alternative! I found several options, but one in particular seemed to appeal to me, KompoZer.

Perhaps I am a sucker for a well-designed website, but KompoZer had several key features that I was looking for.

  1. Free and open-source software
  2. FTP site manager
  3. Color picker
  4. Tabs for multiple HTML documents
  5. CSS editor
  6. Automated Spellchecker
The WYSIWYG editor is fairly straight-forward and clean. The only downside is that you either have to be in the "Source" tab or the "Preview" tab, there is no split-screen option. Not too bad of a compromise for a free option though, all things said. Some screenshots of the tab with some HTML I pulled from my website are below.

Preview View
Source View

Since I am using it for some pretty basic functions, it has served me well. I still have Dreamweaver on my personal computer, but it seems that I will be keeping KompoZer around on my work computer for now. It's hard to justify the money that would be spent to buy Dreamweaver when a free and workable solution is currently in use especially after a recent request for Adobe Production Premium CS6. I might put KompoZer through its paces soon in redesigning my personal website, so keep watch for an updated review on this software.