A Version of Digital Storytelling


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As spring came with new flowers blooming, and as we just brought home our new rescue puppy, I got my camera out, naturally. Friends wanted to see pics of Lola, and I always like to remember what spring flowers look like when I’m enjoying the snow of winter.D-Story2

While reviewing the images I just captured, I started to scroll back even further. It seems as I downloaded images from my camera to my computer, I did not delete them off the camera. With a 16 gig. SD card, it didn’t seem necessary. As I continued to browse through my images, it took me back in time several years.

ID-Story1 recalled the conference in Italy (where I received the “Best Paper” award: LMS for Student Assessment). I relived helping my daughter move to LA and getting stuck at the airport when my flight home was cancelled. I smiled looking at my finished model car I got as a Christmas present (it has about a 2×4 inch wheel base and required needle-nose pliers and a magnifying glass to complete). I again enjoyed the sculpture in the Milan airport. And relived the view flying over Chicago. There were other people and events from the past few years. They were all there in front of me again.

It was a chapter of my life story preserved digitally.

I’ve read articles about digital storytelling , such as The Year in Interactive Storytelling. I’ve read about how it is used in education and elsewhere, such as storytelling in STEM educationstorytelling in business messages, and even immersive storytelling in virtual worlds for charitable causes. I try to figure out how to incorporate such activities into my own classes, or how knowing about digital storytelling could help my students in my class or others. I even looked through an online course about story telling (The Future of Storytelling).

Now, from the simple activity of looking at my pictures, I understand another perspective of digital storytelling. Simply keeping a visual “history” in our digital cameras can do it. Now, that is simple enough that anyone can learn the process. Then we can discuss the many applications – for business, nonprofits, education, etc.

What did I learn? Besides the fact that I have half of my SD card still available, and that I should remember to back up my stuff (again), I learned the breadth and depth of digital storytelling is really quite simple. I learned, or was reminded, that the visual image, still or moving, captures much more than can often be told (you know, the “picture is worth 1,000 words” thing), and this is much of what digital storytelling really is about. Not just information; not just about the story from beginning to end; but about the feelings and emotions captured and conveyed. Those are the things that should drive our use of digital storytelling.

Again – it is not because we CAN (use technology, go digital), it is because we SHOULD. What works best? If it is digital storytelling, then use it. If it is not digital or technology enabled, then don’t use technology. But do consider that often, even with technology, it can be very simple.


A Dull Cutting Edge


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I moved offices recently and decided to get rid of things instead of moving them.

Dell Axim & KeyboardI came across a new technology item that I was excited to learn, use, research its effectiveness – WAS, that is several years ago: my Dell Axim (Dell’s version of a Palm Pilot). It was cutting edge technology! (I even got the bluetooth mini keyboard!) I was set to travel without a big, heavy, awkward laptop. I liked it. I was impressive. I was functional.

It happened to be in a box with my slide rule from high school – go figure!sliderule

At the time, hand held devices were new and exciting. This electronic assistant did word processing email, calendars, and a few other things.  I was interested in how we could use it in education but never got the chance to start a project. (I went into an administrative role and did much less teaching.)

So as I was moving some of this I got to thinking about how cutting edge this was, and how not cutting edge it is now. These few years later when I am back to teaching and research, that cutting edge technology is not more than a paperweight (and not even that – it is in the box of stuff I moved but did not throw away). Now, the smart phone does more than those things did – and some even cost less than my $500 Axim, and they now have full color screens, take pictures, and so much more.

But before I got too discouraged I started to thinking of the research I read and the ideas and projects others tried out. How much did they pave the way for a better product, a better technology?  How much did we educators learn from our triumphs and mistakes? I hope we don’t make the same mistakes over and over with every new technological development!

It’s all called progress. But do we have to start all over with each new development? Not really – just learn the new technology again and again. (I started teaching before computers – just sayin’ it’s a lot of learning.)

The next steps of using technology in education (or wherever you are) should be based on what we have already learned and experienced.   I did not start new research with my iPad. Instead, I looked at what others were doing right and wrong, in what situations, with what audience and what learners. From that I looked to what I could do in my situation, with my learners. Then I tried it.  Some of that you have read here; other steps you will be reading about (or other trip-ups and stumbles – I’ll share them, too).

I’m settled into my new office now, and glad coffee makers haven’t changed much. office I’m using the current technology and looking at where it is going.  I’ll keep trying and letting you know how it is going.

But for now, I’m going to go listen to my LP’s and try to get them digitized.

Using Technology is the Easy Part


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Is Technology the Hard Part?

Even though the focus of this blog is learning about technology, learning technology, and learning how to use technology (particularly in education settings), I wanted to tell you about how using technology is the easy part as I mentioned earlier (see my earlier blog post, More of My Next Steps).

I started this blog as I was in a module called Is One Life Enough (IOLE). [NOTE: my first blog posts were assignments from the IOLE module, and you can scroll back to see all of them if you like.] Then it develops that I am now co-teaching this module – with John O’Connor and Claudia Igbrude. We mashed together the module from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) with a colloquium from the Honors College of The University of Akron (UA) to provide an international educational experience for our students WITHOUT the expense of travel.

How Does That Work?

Good question. The three of us had to develop a process to stay coordinated and adjust because of time differences, institution requirements and schedules, deviations in what was happening in the class, and other surprises.

John and Claudia already had a blog and Wiki established for the module, so it was “simply” a matter of adding me into the mix. Learning how to work in a wiki is not that difficult (like creating a blog, like learning to tweet, like learning to manipulate images, like learning to edit video, like learning [add your technology here]).  The mechanics, in other words, is “easy.”  The content and the usefulness – now THAT’S the hard part.

Do you remember “group projects” in school (or in work, for that matter, too)?  The difficulties involved in any group work is hard.  It does not matter how many times you had to do it, and it does not matter how well you know how to do it (through experience, education or training in group dynamics and processes).  Work is work. Decisions, idea creation, compromise, and collaboration are difficult.

But all that is not to say it is not enjoyable.

It is certainly worth it when you see your goal in sight and accomplish what you aimed for (or at least most of it because our goals, plans and dreams are perfect and the actual achievement is typically not).

So, this blog’s focus is on technology? Not really – and I don’t mean to disappoint you if you have followed it so far, nor mean to say I’ve tried to trick you.  The blog is on the use of technology, the effectiveness of technology to reach an educational or learning goal.  As I’ve said before, it is a tool. And though the focus is much about the tool, the point is what the tool can do for you. (I’ll leave tool talk to the tool manufacturers or hardware stores.)

I Want to Learn More About This

You can obtain the details of our case study or the whole book about E-Learning, E-Education and Online Training.

Igbrude, Claudia; O’Connor, John & Turner, Dudley. (2014). Inter-University International Collaboration for an Online Course: A Case Study. In Vincenti, Giovanni, Bucciero, Alberto, Vaz de Carvalho, Carlos (Eds.)E-Learning, E-Education, and Online Training. Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering. Volume 138pp 159-166. 

An encouraging moment for me


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Every now and then we all need some encouragement, a pat on the back, a reminder that what we are doing is noticed, . . . or maybe a kick in the pants to get up and get moving again.

I recently got that.

OCA_Logo1At its annual conference, the Ohio Communication Association presents awards for Distinguished New Teacher, Distinguished Program, Distinguished Undergraduate Student, as well as top paper awards.  One other award is presented, also: Innovative Teacher Award.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Yes.  I received an award.  And, yes, it felt good.

I received the Innovative Teacher Award.  The nomination forwarded for me included much of my work that you have read here.  It also specified other activities I’ve developed and used in my classes.  As I read it over, I felt kinda tired and kinda inspired.  I appreciate it very much.

And to try to link it to some of my work more closely, I tried to use AR.  To see my “acceptance speech” you need to:

  1. download the HP Reveal app (formerly Aurasma)
  2. open the HP Reveal app
  3. find and follow the Dreamscape Blog channel
  4. point your mobile device at the OCA logo above

With that, you should see my acceptance speech (but you know technology – it does not always work as we plan. You can let me know.


More AR – What I’ve Done So Far


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In my earlier post (see: I’ll Do That) I mentioned that by now (January 2015) I would have this step done – actually using augmented reality (AR). So here is my update.

I used Aurasma, a free AR app, to help new students locate and learn about various student services on our campus.  I did not do it alone, of course (I mean I am good, but not that good).  There is a lot to putting it all together well. Dr. Phil Hoffman and his video production students were quite helpful in putting together some of the augmentations that students see.

We wrote up the details, and you can read about our step into AR in the Journal of Media Education (JOME).  The article is titled, “Using Augmented Reality in Quest-Based Learning for First-Year Students” and was published in April 2014.  I know, it was about a year ago, and I am just now getting around to telling you.  I was reviewing my blog and progress to see where I was, what I learned, and challenging myself to keep track of this journey.  And thought I should document it, too.

But let me summarize for you here . . .

Off Campus Student ServicesStudents at The University of Akron have several offices and services that help them succeed, not just survive in college. In order to help new students at find the various services available to them, I decided to make sure they not only heard about the service, but find the office itself.

We used AR to provide a brief video about the office when they arrived and found the trigger image.

Once the students figured out the app, most appreciated the use of technology and felt more aware of what services were available and how to use them.

What have I learned so far on my tech journey?

Using technology is not a one-person activity, especially if you are going to do it right and do it well or effectively.  Part of the learning curve is understanding what you don’t know. Another part is being open to other’s ideas, input and help.  Technology can bring us together well – IF we let it and if we are willing to do it well.

Technology is not the “magic bullet.” It is up to us.

More of My Next Steps

My blog here has been idle too long. (Sorry. But remember in this post I mentioned It would be a while – and this is the brief answer to “Why January 2015?”) But you know when other priorities jump in, some shuffling of activities is demanded.

I recently read an article from Campus Technology [Using Video Grading to Help Students Succeed] about video feedback. Richard Rose, the author from Texas A&M, said:

“Used poorly, technology can be just one more instrument of our mutual alienation, . . . .  Used wisely, . . . that same technology can go a long way to bridging the distance between your unique humanity and the equally unique humanity of each of your students.”

It was a good reminder for me that technology is not the end – it is the tool. Now back to a plan . . . My blog started with my venture into Is One Life Enough [IOLE] and continues through my own discovery and use of technology (broadly defined) in my teaching.  After a very busy summer and fall in 2014, I need to get back up to speed here sharing what I have discovered and learned.

Here are the next posts that I will be working on:

  • More on AR (Augmented Reality) (a follow-up to I’m Going to Do That!);
  • An encouraging moment for me; and
  • How using technology is the easy part.

Thanks for sticking with me.  Please feel free to remind me that I owe you these posts!

Mobile In The Classroom – Delightful or Disgusting?


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As I watch a student get out of his seat and walk out of my classroom to take a call (during the class), I wonder what the importance is while I appreciate the gesture of politeness (trying not to interrupt the lecture and discussion, even though walking out does disrupt the class). I’ve seen many discussions over IF cell phones should be allowed or not, and lists of suggestions for HOW to incorporate them into my class.

I’m still undecided . . .

I’m still undecided. I’ve tried a few things.  But I heard a very nice summary with some general suggestions at a recent conference.

My reflections on the presentation & topic:

“Student Mobile Devices in the Classroom: Disruptive or Manageable?” was presented by Carol A. Savery at the Ohio Communication Association Annual Conference, 2014. Savery summarized research that shows students do use technology for some class-related work and many find cell phones helpful. But usually more often mobile devices are used for unrelated activities such as surfing web sites, email, Facebook, and others (Jackson, 2013).  When instructors consciously, proactively incorporate mobile use in their classes, they can enhance classroom learning (e.g., Cheung, 2008; Pascopella, 2009; Scomavacca, Huff & Marshall, 2009).

Savery also brought up Atchley & Warden’s (2012) research applying standard definitions of addiction to cell phone use:

  • tolerance – decreased value that then requires more use to get the same effect;
  • withdrawal – if you do not have access to your addiction;
  • increased use
  • inability to cut back on use;
  • reducing competing behaviors; and
  • continuing the behavior despite the risks and consequences.

Are my students addicted? If so, what can I do? Make up rules or a policy?

Some instructors (perhaps most) have specific policies on cell and mobile use – but Savery points out, “Having a written mobile device policy is not enough. Instructors must also enforce the policy to be effective” (citing Tindell & Bohlander, 2012). Just like parenting – the follow-up is probably most important (“Put that away, Billy . . . put it away, please . . . put it away, or . . . “)

As a discipline, Communication Studies could provide leadership

Most inspiring and challenging of all is Savery’s suggestion that “As a discipline, Communication Studies could provide leadership on teaching students how to integrate mobile technologies in the classroom in civil, ethical, and conscious ways for in class- specific purposes.” We should be preparing our graduate to know what to do. We’ll be there instead of our company hiring consultants to tell us how to handle it all (like the cell phone courtesy consulting that became big for a while).  Now, to get that on my list of “things to do.”

I won’t even go to the cheating issue . . .


Atchley, P., & Warden, A. C. (2012). The need of young adults to text now. Using delay discounting to assess informational choice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1(4): 229-234.

Cheung, S. L. (2008). Using mobile phone messaging as a response medium in classroom experiments. Journal of Economic Education, 39:51–67.

Jackson, L. D. (2013). Is mobile technology in the classroom a helpful tool or a distraction?: A report of university students’ attitudes, usage, practices and suggestions for policies. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, 8, 1832-3669.

Pascopella, A. (2009). From cell phone skeptic to evangelist. District Administration, 45(10): 40–41.

Scomavacca, E., Huff, S. and Marshall, S. (2009). Mobile phones in the classroom: If you can’t beat them, join them. Communications of the ACM, 52(4):142–146.

Tindell D. R. & Bohlander, R. W. (2012). The use and abuse of cell phones and texting messages in the classroom: A survey of college students. College Teaching. 60:1-9.

Wasting Time with Technology?


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I know technology is fun (at least for me).

But many people ask, “Is it worth it?”  And this question needs to be answered.  My posts focus on the use of technology in work (education specifically for me) assuming that it is positive.  So I’ll try to answer the question more specifically.

Learn-to-manage-your-time-online-300x300Let me step back in time . . .

After the novelty of some technology wears off, people begin to step back and examine what is really going on – beyond the promised given when it was first introduced.  For example, TV was rather novel at one time. Much later people began to wonder if it was simply a waste of time. We can get a great deal of helpful, valuable information from TV – and we can waste a lot of time (no need for examples here to clarify; I’m sure you can come up with a long list yourself). So it is not the technology itself, but its use.  It is not the thing itself so much as the time we spend with the “thing.”  So is it worth the time?

Let me step back to our present question . . .

Many ask this question concerning social media, “Is it worth it?”

[NOTE: I know social media is more ‘software’ than ‘technology’ but we have to use technology to be involved in social media, and part of technology use in my thinking surrounds the applications that allow us to utilize the technology well.  Anyway, it ties into my overall theme for the blog, so just stick with me here.]

If you want help in how to be more productive with social media you can read several articles (for example: “7 Ways to be More Productive on Social Media;” “7 Ways Social Media can Make you More Productive;” or “How to be More Productive on Social Media” if you don’t want the numbers). More to my point is that when I answer the question I would like to do more than say, “I’m following the guidelines for being productive and not wasting time.”

BozarthI came across an article in Learning Solutions Magazine written by Jane Bozarth  in October 2012 called “Nuts and Bolts: Assessing the Value of Online Interaction.”  In the article, Bozarth gives an example of her use of Twitter specifically that was quite beneficial. It is not novel or unique; this process is being used quite often now in many of the social media – finding out information that you need by asking on social media. To help show the value of this process, or this online interaction, she refers to an report that provides a framework for assessing this value:

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., and de Laat, M. (2011) Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: a conceptual framework. Rapport 18, Ruud de Moor Centrum, Open University of the Netherlands

 But beyond this I recommend reading Bozarth’s article to see Figure 1 showing the model and progression of value:

Immediate Value -> Potential Value -> Applied Value  -> Realized Value  -> Reframing Value

Each phase has steps we may or may not take, but if we do, then the value of the interaction (the value of the social media, the value of the technology) increases and is beneficial to more and more.

My time? My Value? My Answer?

SO . . . I came across this article that spurred my thinking because I use technology – I follow Bozarth on Twitter (@JaneBozarth) and others.  I spend my time using some of the social media to find helpful, valuable information (like we can with TV and with …) that relates to my interests and needs.  Its inspiration built the potential value for me; its reuse here (and elsewhere in my work) will build the applied value for me and my students and my colleagues; and this will continue into realized value as we aim for a reframing of “technology” and its use.

It is not what it IS – it is WHAT YOU DO WITH IT.  That can be a valuable use of time.

Social Media is Stifling?


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If you thought social media helped get the word out, helped spread opinions and ideas, or helped in the democratic process, you would only be partially correct.


How Social Media Silences Debate (reported by The Upshot, NYTimes;  http://nyti.ms/1AQTKMy)


Researchers set out to investigate the effect of the Internet on the so-called spiral of silence theory [remember from Survey of Com Theory class? or get a refresher here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_of_silence]  It says that people are less likely to express their views if they believe they differ from those of their friends, family and colleagues. They found that this spiral of silence describes activity in social media also.


Findings from the study include:

“Of the 14% of Americans unwilling to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in
person with others, only 0.3% were willing to post about it on social
“86% of Americans were willing to have an in-person conversation about the
surveillance program, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users were
willing to post about it on those platforms.”


“Those who use Facebook were more willing to share their views if they
thought their followers agreed with them. If a person felt that people in
their Facebook network agreed with their opinion about the Snowden-NSA
issue, they were about twice as likely to join a discussion on Facebook
about this issue.”

Although the internet and social media help people connect and communicate ideas, it mainly connects us with like-minded people. So the deliberation and debate that is helpful to the democratic process is not any better in the vastness of social media than it is face-to-face according to this research.


So, keep blogging, tweeting, posting, etc. BUT – remember to look at other groups and be “brave” enough to share your ideas, discuss, debate, deliberate.  Add to a conversation, not just echo other voices.


For the report summary and a link to the full report, see:

I’m Going to do That!


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OK! I’ve got a plan for my future. I’ve figured out what I want to do with technology. The inspiration hit me over breakfast the other day.

You can check back with me in January 2015 to make sure I am doing what I say and not just writing up another blog entry.  (“January 2015” – It seems like a long time away, and it is. I’ll explain why it seems so far away later.)

What am I going to do? I am going to augment reality.

“What is wrong with reality that we need to augment it?” you ask?  A good question.  It is not so much that something is wrong with reality, but that at times the augmentation is helpful.

“How are you going to augment it?” you proceed to question.  My initial answer is both, “In many ways,” and “I don’t know!”

“But . . .” – Wait. Let me continue without interruption and your questions will probably be answered. (If not, there is the Comment section below.)

Augmented Reality – AR

There are many apps for AR and they do different types of augmenting.  Basically, they add to or enrich (augment) what we have or what we see.  Many examples already exist, some free others not.  My breakfast inspiration was from Kellogg’s app. I enjoyed my virtual concert while finishing my cereal AND got a pic with the stars!

But I can’t use that app. (I’m not Kellogg.)

Instead, I will use another free app called Aurasma.  I wrote about this before (Finding My Aura) but was undecided then. Now I have a better vision of the future, well, . . . at least MY future.

“And what is that?” you interrupt to ask, again.  Let me tell you briefly.

I want my students to read.  Reading is one of the best ways to learn.  So as I give them things to read, I can add little treasures, little surprises, deeper details for them to find.  With a diagram or image, I can link to a fuller explanation, or an illustration, or an example.  I want to “reward” them for their efforts, to help them as much as I can.  And I think having a video or animation jump out of the page is a pretty fun way to do that.  Besides, more students are using their mobile for studying as well as while they are studying.  Since they are using it so much, I can tap into it and try to keep them on task better.

I’m working on it now, but it will take time.  Like I said, check with me in January 2015 to see how it is going.

[and, as for why “January 2015” seems so far away – that is another blog, but I’ll come back and link to it here]