Digital Storytelling and Learning

If stories and storytelling has the kind of deep, emotional impact we all seem to think it does, it should be obvious that stories and learning have a critically intertwined relationship. Yet academia is built around the lecture, that venerable means of delivering scarce information from a knowledgeable source to open minds. With all of the scholarship and research around how humans learn, one would think universities would embrace new pedagogical methods that have the potential to make learning both more efficient  and more effective.

Digital storytelling is one of those pedagogical methods. It extends the learning beyond the classroom; connects students to the material in novel and distinct ways; promotes student thought; and provides immediate meaningfulness of the material. It combines words and images in ways our brains are hardwired to respond, utilizing multiple channels to get into neural pathways. Stories activate mental models, prompt activation of long-term memory, ease recall, and encourage modifications of mental models. Stories even improve transfer of the memories and modified mental models back to long-term memory.

Watch the short and compare the old way with the new way. Which one would you prefer to use to learn about economics?

Technical Notes:
I used Avidemux, open source video editing software, made it easy to pull clips from large videos. Instead of duplicating large videos throughout the Animoto title, I used specific and smaller cuts. Rendering still took close to 30 minutes. The most painful part of Animoto is not being able to preview the video!

I used the Flash Video Downloader plug-in for Firefox to capture .flv video from YouTube, which I then could upload to Animoto. Stock.xchng provided free stock photos to add to several that I had previously purchased from istockphoto. The Econ site provided the most excellent demonstration about how we all should learn economics. How we should not is courtesy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and a young, skinny Ben Stein.

Category: W5: Animoto
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4 Responses
  1. mplumb says:

    I enjoyed your video, and thanks for the technical notes. I’m definitely a novice, but benefitting from the experience some of the people in the class have with this software has been rewarding. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the two video clips to illustrate two very different ways of learning about economics. Even though those kids were bored out of their minds listening to Ben drone on, I for one will never forget the impact of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff thanks to Ferris Bueller.

  2. rsibaja says:


    Seriously, the tech specs were great and your overall posting/project really tapped into the strength of diversifying the curriculum with the goal of making learning an authentic experience for students.

  3. jjanes says:

    I think this really resonates well with Wesch’s article about how there is a change in the classroom that is “visually more subtle, yet potentially much more transformative.” Thanks for all of the notes on how to do all of that other stuff with Animoto. I also found Animoto frustrating in the fact that you can’t view it, and it must render each time before you do!

  4. tgoodwin says:

    I agree with you Jen, I think there is certainly Wesch-influence happening in this presentation.

    But what I like is how you are using the technology to not only prove your point -that learning can extend beyond “anyone, anyone?”and engage on a whole different level with really know that is what is happening.

    The very creation of this video is learning v2.0 done well. Bravo!