As the classroom evolves to leverage more digital options, it’s often not enough to throw equipment at students and expect them to take advantage. In a blog post by PBS Mediashift today, professor Paul Barnwell took a look at his efforts to teach Digital Storytelling to high school students, finding that a right mix of technology, intiative and introspection can lead to success.
In the article, Barnwell outlines five principles that, when followed, brought the course more success. He states that:
- We focus on storytelling and making connections between writing forms and new media.
- We employ technology to develop or enhance measurable skills.
- We are mindful consumers and producers of technology.
- We maximize collaboration inside and outside the school.
- We must be flexible and patient.
It’s that last principle that becomes the focus of the article, as Barnwell’s work with the students has them considering their position with technology and media. Especially when breaking new ground with content and courses, organization is paramount.
“The first year, we used three different classroom spaces. The course was a dumping ground for upperclassmen needing elective credit. Our equipment was back-ordered. I didn’t develop a coherent curriculum. Instead of using technology tools as a catalyst to teach storytelling, I was teaching students disjointed skills. It was a mess.”
Barnwell continued, explaining that getting students to analyze their possible “addiction” to social media allowed them to embrace their potential for telling stories. At the beginning of the class, Barnwell encourages his students to be forthcoming about their uses of technology, admitting his usage patterns himself.
He also reminds them that they are “ultimately in control of their tech habits, and it starts with self-awareness”. As producing audio, video and visual content becomes more ubiquitous in the workplace, students need to be able to see the value in different types of information. Barnwell explains his methods:
“I challenge students to step back and reflect on why and how they use technology; otherwise, it’s too easy to become passive, distracted digital citizens. Howard Rheingold’s recent release, “Net Smart: How to Thrive Online,” provides educators and citizens alike with suggestions of digital literacy skills to practice while facing the onslaught on continuously streaming information and distraction. These skills include honing your attention, crap detection, and knowing how to effectively shape your digital footprint.”
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