Wow! I feel like I’ve come to the end of a long journey. Back in January, I had no idea where my Learning With Digital Stories (INTE 5340) class would take me. I’ve gone down different paths this semester and seen many things and read many stories of adversity. In the process, I’ve been inspired to create my own digital story. The above photo of an old pair of hiking shoes was part of that personal story. I wore them for two summers working outdoor events at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Chatfield. During that time, I faced a number of job-related challenges, from 100 degree temperatures to short-tempered wedding guests! Much like that work experience, I’ve overcome a number of obstacles this semester to better understand the world of digital storytelling and how this form of personal expression can benefit individuals, including myself, who wish to discuss the adversity they have faced in their lives.
I came to enjoy reading chapters of Joe Lambert’s book Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. The first chapter became the catalyst for my interest in Lambert’s work. Chapter 3 gave me some insight on the long path that Lambert took and the talented people he collaborated with to establish the Center for Digital Storytelling (now StoryCenter) in Berkeley, California. Finally, Chapter 5 gave me an idea of how Lambert and his colleagues at StoryCenter facilitate the creation of digital stories with the authors. I was able to use this chapter as a resource when I created my own digital story about my adversity during my job search. All this insight was made possible when our instructor, Clinical Associate Professor Lori Elliott, gave us the option to read the Lambert chapters (and other readings) in place of our initial assigned text for the semester. It was a welcome change of pace.
In addition to the assigned readings, there were a number of articles on the World Wide Web that gave me a better idea of digital storytelling’s impact in society and how it can help people tell their stories regarding adversity. In my alma mater’s alumni magazine, I found an article about how digital storytelling was helping Veteran Administration doctors learn more details about their patients. A fellow classmate, Darren Blackman, commented on how a storytelling project such as that can be “a great way to keep patience(s) as humans not data.” Plus, I discovered a news item from the University of Michigan-Flint about how a $100,000 grant to fund the cleanup of Flint’s contaminated water supply included money to teach local students digital storytelling skills so they can describe what they had been going through during the environmental crisis.
Digital Story Critiques
There was a rich variety of audio and video narratives to view on the internet. StoryCorps offered many examples of people overcoming adversity, including a soldier coping with the death of his comrades (a peer, Alicia Newton, shared this with others on Twitter) as well as a pair of African-American stuntmen confronting racism in Hollywood. Many of my classmates also found insightful audiovisual narratives on this site as well. Another website with a wealth of digital stories was, of course, StoryCenter. At the site that Joe Lambert helped build, there were a number of adversity narratives, from a young Pakistani woman challenging cultural traditions by going to college (also critiqued by fellow classmate Kristin Vossler) to an Asian-American conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Closer to my home in Denver, I found a couple of local digital stories on the American Graduate website, include one young man’s struggle to turn his life around. Each of these unique compositions gave me a perspective of not only how digital storytelling can visualize the concept of adversity, but also how I might be able to express my struggles during my job search over the last 10 plus years.
These (almost) weekly DS106 projects helped me explore new ways to tell a story either in a couple of hours or in a couple of days. At times, it was challenging to both come up with an idea as well as the best application to utilize in the creation of the assignment. For many of the Daily Creates, I had to think and act (relatively) fast to produce results in Adobe Photoshop, such as these:
For the Assignment Bank projects, I used a variety of tools, including iMovie, SoundCloud and Vimeo, to create and present an assortment of digital creations. The last hyperlink listed was easy to record, but it was perhaps the most personal project I completed.
Every few weeks, it felt good to write down how I was progressing in the course. Most of the time, I discussed about what I was learning about digital storytelling, but after week 7, I decided to reflect on how a chapter in Joe Lambert’s book was making me think about what I was learning about myself. Afterwards, it was great to hear such positive feedback from Kristin and Lori about my thoughts.
My Digital Story:
All of these readings, articles, blog postings and creative assignments inspired me to compose my own digital story about my adversity during my job search. I choose to put together a montage of still images featuring items or articles of clothing from jobs in my past. With a little music and narration, I was able to tell a story of the rugged career path I have taken over these many years.
So, I’ve come to the end of my journey this semester in Learning with Digital Stories. I’d like to thank my peers in this class for their critiques and comments as well as our instructor, Lori Elliott, for her guidance, energy and encouragement.
Future (2017?) M.A. graduate from the Information and Learning Technologies (with emphasis in eLearning Design and Implementation) program from UC-Denver