Single Image Project – Example


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Another digital storytelling project is more challenging – trying to use only one image.

This requires that we allow a broad definition of “storytelling.” You can’t really get a full story – all the details, the full explanation – in one still image. But you can show that something is happening, something is or was going on. You can pique the interest of the viewer and stir the imagination.

There are so many ways to do this. Those who study photography are still at work doing this. For us amateurs, we have to try harder (and usually take several more photos to find one that works).

So, I will show a few examples, each a different approach or style. None “professional” of course – these are my own.

First: Stitches

stichesI thought this picture stirred the imagination. There are a few different stories that could come from this or lead up to this image.

Depending on which direction you let your imagination run, I could be a clumsy dope who had an accident, a jerk who got in a fight, a victim of a jerk who attacked me, or, actually, this image is the result of an operation – I had skin cancer.

Unlike many images that tell a story, this one is an extreme close up. Most images that are used to tell a story are a broader view and typically show some action or event.

Second: Graduation

DT K gradThis shot is one like many take at events to “record” it, to keep it as a memory. And many images like this do tell a part of a story. This image is simple, and there really isn’t much more to the story than what you see: I graduated from kindergarten.

Is it an interesting story? Well, to me and my family, yes, of course. But is it interesting to others? Maybe, at best, but probably not (other than I am a really cute kid). It is a bit different from other graduation photos because I am so young, and most people graduate when older like from high school or from college. So that is what I thought may have been the hook to catch the viewer’s interest.

And: Friends Reading

Friends ReadingThis image is one that brings the viewer into the scene. The attention of the people in the picture is focused on the book, so the viewer would wonder what are they reading? What is the relationship – probably grandmother and granddaughter, but it is not certain.

It is simple, it shares a moment, and it stirs the imagination.

I like it and the story it tells.

Multiple Image Storytelling Project – 3


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One of the first digital storytelling projects is a  to use 4-7 images to tell a story. I allowed students to either use images without words or with some text, like a comic strip. The exercise is to be relatively simple, but to work on using images more than text to convey the story. How do you show emotion, the obstacle and the resolution, or tension in images? How can you create a connection to the characters? How do you do this without words? The goal is to get a complete story down to the basic or only the necessary details.

As I explained before, here is an example I had fun with.

Third Example

I like donuts. I love Krispy Kreme donuts! I have the calendar that gives coupons every month. What a good story to tell! And here is my story:

“Saving a Morning”

Donut Story

This is a simpler story than my previous example. I don’t think any words are needed. Can you relate to it? Most probably can – some mornings we feel dull, uninspired, or tired and a simple thing can make our day. Besides, what is better than a warm Krispy Kreme donut hot off the baking rack?!

Overall, this story was simple to put together. First, I had to think up the story. I got hungry one morning and thought it was a good idea. Second, I had to get the “talent” involved, so I called my daughter. We often go get donuts together anyway, so it did not take too much convincing (especially since I was buying). Third, I had to plan the steps that conveyed the story – giving enough info to make a complete story and eliminating unnecessary information.

I got a few shots of each step and chose the one that looked the best and got the idea of that phase of the story across. I put it together by inserting images in MSWord. I used a table and put one image in each cell except for the last image. I wanted the last image to be emphasized a little more, so I combined two cells. This also solved the problem of an uneven number of images forced into a table with equal rows and columns. A little formatting to get the images centered in their cell helped the overall look. However, using a table is not required.

So, another example of digital storytelling. I look forward to your reaction. And feel free to share your stories!


After discussing this example with my class, I wanted to share some of their ideas about how improve my donut story. They brought out ideas to show more conflict or obstacles such as showing an empty fridge or an empty wallet. The ideas were to make the story more interesting and engaging – they had good ideas, and I look forward to seeing their stories.

We talked about the logistics of planning and photographing a story, an how my hurry limited the quality of the story.

Multiple Image Storytelling Project – 2


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One of the first digital storytelling projects is a  to use 4-7 images to tell a story. I allowed students to either use images without words or with some text, like a comic strip. The exercise is to be relatively simple, but to work on using images more than text to convey the story. How do you show emotion, the obstacle and the resolution, or tension in images? How can you create a connection to the characters? How do you do this without words? The goal is to get a complete story down to the basic or only the necessary details.

As I explained before, here is an example I had fun with.

Second Example

For my second example in this story format I use photos. Trying the same story of the hungry dog that I used before, I wanted to use my own dog – the inspiration for the story originally. So I got some shots of my own dog, Lola (a rescue from Ozark Homeward Bound) and put them together.

What Lola Wants . . .

Dog story

This is the simple version. I also wanted to see how it was with thought bubbles like I tried in the cartoon, so I did this to it:

Dog story2

So, I like the photo story overall, it is one that I live daily. For the viewer (you), it should pull up some emotion – even if for no other reason than dogs are cute.

But how is it as digital storytelling?

Well, it gets the idea or the full “story” across fine. I like it without the thought bubbles, they seem to be “overkill” and unnecessary, especially used in every frame. I know people use them a lot to make sure the reader/viewer gets the idea. Sometimes they are needed to drive home the point you want. But here they are not needed.

By the way, I found the thought bubbles in MSWord – Insert – Shapes – Callouts. They are a little tricky, but once you get how to edit them it is quite simple. The layout is simply inserting pictures into a MSWord document. I saved it as a PDF, but that could not be shown here, so I opened the PDF (it automatically opened in Preview on my Mac) and exported it as a JPEG. A lot of steps, I know, but not too difficult.

You should be aware of the fact that working with untrained animals is beyond frustrating, and it takes a lot of time. I had to keep a camera handy during odd times and hope that the behavior continued even with the distraction of me doing something different and pointing a camera at her.

The last two pictures were filters in an app on my iPad called Clips. It is for video, but you can export a still from it. I like the look of the “cartoon” filter and the “line” filter – it would be good for some stories to convey a different feel. I pretty much had to use them here to get the example done without taking a couple more days to catch my dog in the pose. She knows how to “sit up” but does not do it on command – only when she wants something, then we have to figure out what it is. “doggie treats” is often the answer.

Let me know what you think! (about the dog OR the digital story)

. . . (to be continued)

Multiple Image Storytelling Project – 1


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One of the first digital storytelling projects is a  to use 4-7 images to tell a story. I allowed students to either use images without words or with some text, like a comic strip. The exercise is to be relatively simple, but to work on using images more than text to convey the story. How do you show emotion, the obstacle and the resolution, or tension in images? How can you create a connection to the characters? How do you do this without words? The goal is to get a complete story down to the basic or only the necessary details.

My first attempt was a comic style. I wanted to try out Pixton, an online site that helps you make comic strips. It has a 15-day free trial and variable pricing for business or education situations. Since I used the free trial I could not embed my story or download it. I did, however, get a screenshot of it, and if you can’t see it well here in my blog, go view it in Pixton here.


The process is relatively simple. There are multiple templates to use, or you can start “blank” and add things as you go along. Getting a setting and changing a setting comes from a long list of scenes, both inside and out, and changing settings is simple. Characters are limited. You can adjust their poses and facial expressions by clicking on them then on  the pose or expression you want. The dialog bubbles are attached to the character, and if you move the character too much you tend to lose the “link.” I also could not find how to make it a “thought bubble” instead of dialogue – and the dog should be “thinking” instead of “talking.” Instead of wasting time, I just went with a talking dog.

One other missing piece is the dog treat that she gives. I did not know how (or if it is possible) to add a prop or item like that. All I had was the background or setting, the characters and the talk bubble – Oh, and I could not delete a talk bubble, so I guess the characters have to say something in every frame.

it’s an example – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Perhaps I simply rushed too much. If I took more time exploring the tool I may have found solutions to my difficulties with thought bubbles and props. Nevertheless, it is an excellent example. That sounds like a great excuse, but it really is part of my thought process for this blog overall. Nothing here is considered “perfect” but is considered something learned and then shared.

Overall, I don’t recommend cartoons or Pixton for the storytelling I’m considering even though on their website you can find testimonials from teachers about how wonderfully it fit into their students’ educational experience.

. . . (to be continued)

Those Who Can . . . ?


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You may have heard the saying, bad and untrue as it is:

Those who can, do.

Those who cannot, teach.

And those who cannot teach, teach gym.

I believe the last line was added by Dewey Finn, Jack Black’s character in School of Rock. Funny, kinda. But certainly not accurate.

So why do I start with this demeaning quote about teaching? Because I thought of it as I was planning my class this semester. Working on lesson plans for the coming weeks, I knew I had to provide examples for my class. Then I thought, “Why bother taking the time to search for examples when I can make them myself?” I’ll have examples and have fun!

dig picI’ve blogged about digital storytelling before. Now I get to do something more about it. The class is Digital Storytelling for honors students at my university. Their majors vary from engineering to political science to nursing and beyond. We are examining digital storytelling in many forms for many purposes, whether related to business, sales, PR, or simply for fun. Students will explore many tools to present their stories and critique the results.

Sounds like fun? Yes, it does. And that is one reason I am teaching it. I also like technology and what possibilities it holds (as you can tell from by blog so far) (if you’ve been reading) (if not, then please do!). And being a professor of communication, I help students learn how to communicate in many ways.

So I plan to TEACH my students and DO, also. Just like another saying I’m sure you have heard:

Practice what you preach.

Over the next several weeks, then, I will produce a digital story – an example of one technique or tool or approach. I will show it here and discuss the process, difficulties, successes and failures. You and my students can see them.

If my students want to show off their stories, they can comment here (or after one of the other posts) and give us a link to their story.

I look forward to your reactions!

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 in October, 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 for 2014.  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.