Friday, February 15, 2013

The use of story and digital story

A tentative definition of story

1. A narrative, either true or fictious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse or instruct the hearer or reader. A narrative is an account of events, experiences, etc.
2. The plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc.


During our child and adolescent formal and informal education we read stories of different types and tell also stories orally. While written stories can reflect account of different cultures, oral stories reflect national culture and are transmitted from generation to generation. These stories are generally told between family members or friends in the young age mostly at night. It is specially interesting to tell these stories outside of the house when a full moon projects its light on earth.

What is interesting about story is that its use has been expanded in society not as a fictional account but as a true one. Many leaders in different fields use stories to propel themselves ahead in their career. Life stories are particular important because it can show the ups and downs in someone's life. Stories may reflect some kind of behavior that is repetitive. They can be used to predict the probability of an event. Stories are used in the medical field in order to treat a physical or mental symptom. In the professional field a resume or a portfolio is a story of different events happening in someone's educational and professional life. Science fiction stories have played a great role in the development of science since most science fiction stories have become reality. Story can play an important role in someone's personal life as an evaluation tool. Personal imaginative stories can be used to project one's personal desired future.

Stories are often categorized according to their use,  An imagined personified story lends language to animals and gives life to inanimated objects. An explanatory story can be used to explore a scientific phenomenon. From this perspective a story can be used in any human field specially in the academic field. Explanatory stories are used even in the most rigorous sciences like mathematics. Explanatory stories can be used to solve a mathematical problem and to demonstrate a theorem for example. The transfer in mathematics is very easy as a story is the account of a set of events and mathematical problems are solved by following a number of steps that can be compared to an account of a number of events. The educational implications are important for transfer from one subject to the other. A student well versed in litterature and history can transfer his story skills in mathematics and science. An educator can help facilitate this transfer by using the word story in the solution of a problem.For example some students tend to skip some steps in the solution of problems. By knowing that the resolution of a math problem is a story the student knows that he has to state all the steps of the solution to make the story coherent. A stoy has a beginning. a development and a conclusion. Otherwise the story is not coherent and nobody would understand it. Even in a fictional story conceived to amuse coherence is important. Otherwise it won't produce the desired result. Likewise if the story of the resolution of a math problem is not coherent the solution will be false.

I have been talking in the previous paragraphs about story and its use in different areas. I am going to explore different things that a  digital story can be. Digital story is a story using digits. Digit is defined as being a finger, a toe or a figure from 0 to 9. A written story written by hand couldn't be considered as a digital story?. In this sense we can say that digital story is very old dating from thousands or millions of years. The word digital has been used in science to refer to something that has to do with numerical values. Computers convert any data in numerical values. So any data made from a computer is cosidered digital. But many things like sound, pictures, writing exist before computers were born. So digital story considered as any story made using computerized technology doesn't make sense since stories have been told using different medias that  now become digitized. What is now interesting is with computer technology or software applications it is posible to create several artifacts that can relay a story. Based on the stoy of "digital" I agree with Alan Levine who writes in his blog he doesn't know what a digital story is. He continues further to say that the media is not the story. The story is what is conveyed to the media. In this sense can we say that technology has a bad effect here in the sense that we tend to focus on the digital effects of pictures, sounds, movies etc on our snses than the real value of the story?. Technology can be used to enhance the value of something not to influence the viewer to agree with the author's viewpoint or to incite people to do something without using their own will. Anything in life has its good and bad aspect. So one has to use any tool wisely exploiting the positive aspects for everyone not the positive ones beneficial to a few nor the negative aspect detrimental to everybody or the vast majority of people.

Digital story can have many educational uses as story in general. Digital story can be used to help students understand abstract concepts. In a 5th grade science class a teacher uses a digital story to explain the anatomy of the eye. Digital story using several media such as pictures, sounds, etc can be used to describe many scientific concepts. In this sense many scientific documentaries use sdigital story to explain different concepts to the public. Digital stories can be adapted to different learning styles: visual.auditory, kinesthesic.etc. Educators can use it to introduce any content. Since digital story has been used in class through documentary movies students can learn to make their own digital documentary or story to show their understanding of something learned in class. But here power of choice should be given because educaion has been viewed too dogmatic. If you don't do something exactly as it is said to be done it is not good. An educator might tend for example to tell  students to use pictures.sounds, etc to represent something learned in class. But some students might not have skills in all the media and may be more skilled in presenting something using text and pictures. Their work should be accepted as long as long as the media they used served as vehicles of transmission of their work, Several literacy skills can be developed in using digital story telling. These include research skills, writing skills and organization skills. Technology skils can also be developed with the ability of using some media devices and some multimedia authoring software. Presentation skills, interviewing and problem solving skills can thrive through the use of digital story teeling. Historical events can be analyzed from a personal and present viewpoint using digital storytelling. Stories have been part of human life since man's existence. Now we might be more aware of it. Let's use it to our advantage.      

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