The possibilities for ways in which to create a digital story truly seem endless. There is an incredible amount of tools available online allowing one to present in any mass variety of ways. This was perhaps the most difficult part of this particular assignment…finding the right tools to use.
Being great big fans of graphic novels, Diana and I aspired to create a digital story that had the feeling of a graphic novel. Initially I felt that perhaps we could use Comic Life. I knew we had it on our school laptops and I had ever so briefly dabbled with it last year. Immediately we realized that this would not give us the audio option that we really wanted. I continued to play with image ideas in Comic Life while Diana laid out the storyboard. As fun as this program is and I can see my student using it down the road, I craved more control over the image altering process, which Comic Life did not provide. Time for more doodling. Photoshop Elements was selected as the weapon of choice to transform our family photos into something more “graphic” like in appearance. Not being super apt in the program it took some time to thumb through all the options searching for just the right tools.
In the meantime Diana had widdled down our virtual story platform options to VuVox and Voice Thread. Diana uploaded the images onto both websites to preview prior to selecting which to proceed with. In the end we liked the way VuVox looked and moved better than Voice Thread, which seemed more like an interactive PowerPoint. Voice Thread is however a very exciting, highly recommended website and tool, but not what we were looking for in this particular project.
VuVox did not have any direct recording options available, but provided us with the option to upload audio. One continuous audio track of Diana and I retelling our embellished story was recorded in GarageBand and then dropped in to iTunes so that it could to be uploaded to the VuVox site and synched up to our images. This would in turn become the bane of our existence. It turns out that individual tracking would have made the process of matching up the timing of the slides and audio much, much more easy on us. VuVox offered us with little helpful information or suggestions on how best to lay down the audio creating lots of trial and error on our parts. Another fatalistic realization of VuVox came towards what we had hoped was the end of having to hear our two-minute short story for the zillionth time. We discovered that when guests had been invited open and view the saved digital story they also had the ability to move slides at there own discretion. This instantly throws off what took us so long to do, the synching of audio and images. VuVox turned out to be much more tricky that we had anticipated and hoped for. So with hands in the air and a white flag waving we surrender for now, but not forever, for VuVox really is a great website. It just requires a little more understanding before presenting it to out students.
Just as the options for ways in which to create digital stories are infinite the possibilities of how they can be used in the classroom are equally as countless. The processes and programs that Diana and I took alone could be used easily in a cross-curricular unit that involves subjects such as Language Arts, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Technology and really even Social Studies if the topic is changed from a family story to one with a historical perspective or background. In the end three programs and websites were used extensively to create our digital story. VuVox.com, Adobe Photoshop Elements and GarageBand. The thought of creating a digital story in this method with students is very exciting and one I am anxious undertake with my co-workers. Hopefully the kids will find the process of telling stories in this manner as enjoyable and challenging as we did!
Have a peak at what we ended up with using VuVox. One you push play it is highly advisable that you steer clear of the highly sensitive slide scroll button! Feel free to provide us with any feedback and suggestions. Thanks!