In her article, "The Art of Digital Storytelling," Bernajean Porter provides a brief description of what Digital Storytelling is, which I am not going to recount in this blog. What I would like to address are the elements that Porter claims are essential for creating an effective Digital Story: Living in the Story and Unfolding a Lesson Learned.
When she says that an author needs to "live" in his or her story, Porter is simply reminding Digital Storytellers that it's the story that matters the most, not the technology used to tell it. Stories need to resonate with their readers / viewers on a personal level. Good storytellers create this resonance by recounting their experiences and universalizing them so that we can see ourselves in the tale.
We can taste the freshly grown tomatoes.
We can smell the brine wafting off the tide pools at low tide.
Creating these sensory details pulls us in. Without them, we do not have a frame of reference in which we can access the storyteller's intended lesson, which is the second element that Porter feels is necessary for crafting a memorable Digital Story. At some point, in almost every story, we are going to ask ourselves, "Why am I reading this?" Or, "Why am I watching this?" If our answer is, "I don't know," than we have a pretty strong indicator that the storyteller has failed to include a lesson in their narrative.
Failing to finish a book or movie once bothered me a great deal. Now that I am a bit older (and wiser?), I have no issue setting aside a story that is not teaching me something. Even if I am learning something I already know, I will continue to engage with a story if it satisfies Porter's Living in the Story element.
So, Bernajean Porter, thank you for reminding us Digital Storytellers that if our story is not personally engaging or fails to teach a lesson or, gasp, does not do either, it is a story that is not worth telling.
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I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.