Digital Project Assignment: The Search Continues…

How many times do you create a lesson, or presentation which is eerily similar to another you’ve produced? We all have biases or preferences, programs that we are really familiar with. I find that all too often we fall victim to habit which, to the detriment of our learners, may not produce our best efforts. Thats not to say that your lesson or presentation isn’t effective, but really, is it your best? During 3250 we have discussed a whole host of strategies and ideas regarding how to best motivate and engage the learner. One of which was the power of digital story telling. This TED talk by Joe Sabia shows how

in 6000 years of storytelling they have gone from depicting hunting on cave walls to depicting Shakespeare, on Facebook walls; and this was a cause for celebration. The art of storytelling has remained unchanged and for the most part, the stories are recycled, but the way that humans tell the stories has always evolved with pure, consistent, novelty.

The last sentence stood out for me. As teachers we of course do as much as we can for our students. We research, we try new things in an attempt to retain student engagement; this is exactly what I attempted for my 3250 Digital Project Assignment. Inspired initially by the famous TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, I took to the internet to see if I could find a platform which could make me look ‘really clever’…no such luck…but I did come across a free trial of a program called VideoScribe, which would allow me to produce an animated lesson, similar to Sir Ken’s.

Prior to planning this assignment, I reviewed material I had produced for earlier courses within the PIDP, as well as other teaching courses I have taken. I also re-read the instructor feedback. A reoccurring theme was beware bullet points and powerpoint in general. The other thing I noticed was that because I typically teach quite dynamically and usually with limited notes, it becomes glaringly obvious on video with the quantity of er’s and so’s; therefore, these were the main items I set out to change

When I first watched an animated lesson I was in awe, it was such a powerful visual. Of course the content needs to be relatively interesting, but because it was so different to me, it really stood out and motivated me to try something new.

After the inevitable steep learning curve which naturally comes with limited computer literacy, I soon got to grips with the program and produced something which I was almost proud of! The assignment was a 5 minute presentation on a student engagement technique, with the guiding questions being to show the techniques strategy, its pro’s, its con’s, the role of the learner and teacher as well as how you would use it in your ‘ideal’ situation.

All in all,  I achieved what I intended. I used a script to allow me to really dial in the extra ‘er’ punctuation, tailored it to 5 minutes flat, and then animated around it adding a touch of humour as i went; it was a most pleasurable experience. Next, I showcased the project and viewed other classmates’ to be thoroughly blown out of the water by what others had produced. Clearly 3250 is doing its job because many had similar plans to myself and had really maximized the potential of their chosen program. One of my classmate Anne used PowToon which boasts ‘awesomness’ as a tag line and according to the eLearning industry is rated one of the top 6 animated video softwares in the market. Her strategy Socratic Seminar has a great blend of knowledge and wit which had me literally laughing out loud whilst learning…win – win i’d say!

My digital project isn’t telling a ‘story’ per se, but there are certain ‘rules’ to live by for it to work. Timing, colour choice, clear narration to name a few. As I watch the video with a critical eye, I feel the animation is rushed in parts but that seems to be were I have attempted to be explicit with my answers to the assignment guiding questions. The animation layout could certainly be better by my narration speed and content I think works well. If you get a chance, take a peek and let me know what you think.

To conclude, animated video software is a very powerful tool, even in novice hands. We know that todays generation spend more time than we care to imagine on YouTube figuring out our lessons before we’ve even taught it. The use of visual media and software such as this, is a necessity in todays hyperconnected classroom. No doubt this will become a preference for many until the next technique “evolves with pure, consistent novelty”.



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