e-help Seminar 22 Digital Storytelling
Gothenburg 9-10 September 2006
divided my presentation into two parts
A. Digital storytelling
- What is Digital storytelling?
- Two different ways I have used it
- Showed some Digital stories my students have made B. Powerpoint
- How I integrate Powerpoint with design history
- Why use Powerpoint in Design histoy?
- Showed some games and animations made by my students
A. Digital storytelling
1. What/How/Why is Digital Storytelling?
WHAT? A Digital story is a story told with the help of computers. It
combines images, text, sound-effects, music and voice-over to tell a
DS was “invented” in Berkeley in the early 90’s when a group of
writers, artists and computer people was trying to find a way to
incorporate new computer technology with storytelling.
HOW?They set up the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley and the
Digital Clubhouse in New York City, where they held courses and invited
people for screenings. They also wrote a manual for how to make Digital
Stories: the Digital Cookbook.
WHY?They wanted to find an alternative to mainstream media, and also to
let groups who usually wasn’t heard (ethnic minorities in the US army,
woman with breast cancer) be heard.
And finally they created some “rules” or guidelines for how a DS
should be constructed to work efficiently.
The guidelines are:
1. There must be a point of view in the story. Something important the
storyteller wants to tell.
2. There must be drama in the story. It is necessary to capture the
viewer. It must be exciting.
3. There must be some emotional content in the story.
4. Voice-over. The storyteller must read is story. This will make more
personal and it will be easier for the viewer to connect to the
5. Use music as a soundtrack to the story, since it will enhance the
6. Economy in the use of pictures and sounds. Keep it short and simple.
7. Change pace in the story. A change in the rhythm sustains an
2. Two different ways I have used Digital
Storytelling (or been inspired by it)
a. Learning Bridge
In Learning Bridge we communicate with American students over the
internet and go on a two-week trip to USA to visit some of the students
and stay in host families.
We run this project to make the students grow and change into more
responsible persons. (You can read more at www.learningbridge.se)
In order to emphasize this we let them do a story about a person or an
occasion that has changed them or have had a great importance for them.
The have to go home and collect photos and then write a story. One of
the students, Sebastian, did a story about his grandfather who had moved
to Canada and USA in the 50’s to work in the auto-industry. And
Sebastian did a movie about how inspiring this is to him and that he
wants to do the same thing. And it also became a historic movie about
his grandfather and family history.
When we returned from the trip each student had to make a digital diary
of one day, using photos taken during the trip and voice-over.
The programs we use are Windows Moviemaker which the students learn to
use in 30 min and also various photo editing programs (Adobe Photoshop
mostly). For sound editing we use a share ware program called Audacity
available at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
These (and other) digital stories are available for viewing or download
on the Learning Bridge web site at http://www.learningbridge.se
b. Virtual history movie
I have also let the students make digital stories in history. Here they
don’t make a personal story, but an ordinary short film about an
The material they use for their movies are all available on the
internet. They download a number of movies, maybe 20-30, and then take
pieces from all the movies to create something new – tell a new story.
Like using sampling technique in hip-hop.
The main source is www.archive.org which is an internet library with
movies, sounds and texts. The material is donated by the American
government, companies, institutions, organizations etc and is free to
use for non-commercial use. The best for movies are the Prelinger
archives, which is found by clicking on “Moving images” on the http://www.archive.org
web site, then on “Prelinger archives” and finally “Browse by
The Prelinger Archive have 2000 movies mostly from the 50’s and 60’s
– educational (the banana industry in Central America, nuclear
energy), commercials (the new Chevrolet), propaganda (Duck and Cover).
The students have to decide what they want their story to be about - the
development of the nuclear bomb for instance – and then start looking
for material in the archive. When they have watched the movies available
they write the story more in detail (the story is somewhat dependable
upon what material they can find). Then comes the process of editing and
cutting the movies they have downloaded, making it into a story. And
then do a voice-over and add sound-effects and music.
At the Digital Clubhouse in New York they have a very ambitious
community of youths who work with DS. They are not making DS about
themselves but about important persons in their local community. Their
present project is called Stories of service and is about war veterans
– with the focus on veterans from ethnic minorities. They usually
start out at the local old people’s home to find veterans. Then they
interview the veterans with a tape recorder, and collect photos and
other documents which they digitalize.
Finally they write a story from the material they have collected and put
it all together.
I have a class that I teach both in Design history and Basic computer
skills, and instead of teaching the two courses separately I have tried
to integrate them. I give them a lecture in one field in design history
and then they have to make some sort of presentation in a given computer
programme. In Basic computer skills they are supposed to learn Word,
Powerpoint, Excel, Photo editing, use the internet, internet ethics,
So I give them very specific exercises which include both design history
and the specific computer programme we are working with at the moment.
By integrating the subjects I gain a lot:
- teaching computer skills can boring and abstract if you don’t fill
them with relevant content. Earlier the students have made presentations
in Poweroint where the content never mattered – now I let them make a
presentation about a subject we are working on. Then they get graded
both for the computer presentation and the content of the presentation.
- I get more time – now I can use part of the computer skills classes
for design history. Probably get 30-50% more time on design history now.
- As with the Digital Story telling the students has to internalize the
material to make it understandable. For instance – they make a
computer game about the Bauhaus School of Design aimed at a certian age
group. They have to think through “OK, what does an average 14 year
old now about modernist design? How can I make this material
understandable to him?”. I think the students understand more if they
have to think in those terms.
Here are two exercises my students has worked with:
- Show the connection between Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl-movement. A
painting that is turned into a chair. The idea is to show how art can
inspire design. The students learn how to make an animation in PP and
how to add sound effects.
- Make a computer game about the Bauhaus school of design. The game
should be a pedagogic game, i.e. you must learn something from it when
you play it.
Games and animations my students has made are available on my web site www.tollmar.com/skola
under “Elevarbeten & projekt”.