I recently had the chance to attend the Digital Media Learning Conference 2015, and it was just as powerful and exciting as I had hoped it would be. The core theme, equity, underlined the necessity for digital media integration into educational experiences to create learning connections, ranging across areas including digital storytelling, coding and storytelling, and digital badging.
Digital storytelling is foundational to self-expression in a dynamic new medium, an essential critical thinking skill central to intellectual development. I had the chance to attend “South Side Stories: Using Digital Storytelling to Communicate the Experiences of Youth of Color” with Melissa Gilliam, Ashlyn Sparrow, and Patrick Jagoda. Melissa’s approach of working with young people to unearth stories of trauma or heartache to express in the form of digital media is truly remarkable. Her motivations as both a doctor and a neighbor helped create a trusting environment where young people not only felt comfortable telling their stories – but even more, they felt healed after showing them to an audience (which can be a terrifying thing to do for anyone). Melissa’s approach of teaching storytelling through listening, then encouraging students to tell their story out loud and write it down, then take pictures and video, and finally add music and editing – is a simple template for creating learning connections that any educator, community member, or organization could use to engage their community with digital stories.
Story + Coding
Storytelling and coding are central to the future of education in the way that they intersect with building narratives in a digital environment, which is where the 21st century worker will be spending most of their time. I attended the session on Hip-Hop Dance and Scratch: Interest-Based Pathways into Computational Fluency with Ricarose Roque, Natalie Rusk, Eric Schilling, Saskia Leggett, Crystle Martin, Santina Protopapa, Celia Avila, and Paulina Haduong. My nine year old niece is super-into Scratch, and every time we’re together she wants to “play it” with me. So I thought – I should really get to know this experience better. Having gone from 1M users to 10M users in a year is enough to know that this is a fun learning tool that kids have really latched onto. In just two hours, I had not only learned to code myself doing a dance, we shared it with everyone who attended and got applause. Some workshop participants even told stories with their dance sessions with bubble texts – something I’m hoping to have a chance to do next time.
Digital badges are digital media products of student work and represent an important opportunity for digital media to have an impact in the area of career development. I wanted to better understand how they are implemented across different programs. As we are working on testing badges with our students, I felt overwhelmed by the options. I was able to hone in on how to simplify our process with this panel: Digital Badges for College Credit: Motivating Learning in Informal Science Programs Through Digital Badges with Theresa Horstman, Carrie Tzou, Ian Schooley, Siri Nelson, Amanda Goertz, and Kyle Bates-Green. Here I learned the why and the what of badging. In regards to the why, badges capture program values and open up career pathways in a fun exploratory way. I believe they are a good fit for both sciences and the arts.
To make badges work, start by asking what do you want people to learn, and then deconstructing the curriculum to identify what do you want to badge: skill sets, work roles, or other softer elements? As a next step I knew I needed to survey our students and see what was valuable to them, and then create a badge map, and then finally identify when and how they receive it, and what they can do with it.
Overall – I found the Digital Media Learning conference to be inspiring – creating my own learning connections – and I hope that these small notes have helped to encourage you to see the power of digital media in your own educational world.
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Would you like to read more about digital storytelling and education? Take a look at some of our recent related posts here:badges, coding, connected learning, digital badging, digital storytelling, edtech educational technology, learning connections, story