Preparation for Digital Storytelling Workshop

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This is Dr. Helen Barrett. If you are taking my course on Digital Storytelling, you will need to make some preparations prior to our two days together. In order to get the most out of the class and to produce a quality digital story, you will need to do a little work beforehand. Prepare the following items and bring them to class: a script, some images, a few short video clips (optional), and music.

Here are some details about each one:

1. Script. It is best if you come with a rough draft of a script. Since we are working on pieces that will be 1-3 minutes long, your final script should be an absolute maximum of 1 1/2 pages typed in a reasonable font and double spaced. Shorter is even better!

What should you write about? You! Tell us something about what you teach, who you teach, why you teach! If you are doing this workshop with some of your colleagues in your school or college, create a script that shows how what you do fits into the overall organization. Or, tell your story about a significant learning experience in your past and how it influenced your personal or professional decisions that led you to where you are today (either personally or professionally). The story is most powerful when it is personal. Family stories also work very well, especially if there is an educational message.

2.     Images. Also bring photographs, art work, letters and items to scan. Around 20 images is a good number. If you can scan them ahead of time, that is best. You will want to scan your images at 200 dpi. You can bring them on CD-R or pen drive.

We will have digital cameras at the workshop, so if you do not have access to these tools, there will be time to take pictures or scan. What pictures work best? Your story will determine the content. Then again, pictures can also evoke stories. So, if you are stumped about what to write, begin with the images you might want to use. The story may emerge when you review old (or new) photographs.

3. Video (optional) If you are planning on using video make sure you have previewed your tapes prior to the class and made notes about which 5-15 second clips you will want to capture. Video uses a lot of memory so we would use video efficiently and in small clips.

This component is totally optional. You might have some short video clips that you want to include, especially if it might enhance your story. But, donŐt worry about recording any new full motion video. Ken Burns showed us that some of the most powerful stories can be told with still images.

4. Music. For background music it is best to bring music on CD. Choose a couple of possibilities and then you can choose the option that works best. We will also have royalty free music available at the workshop if you would like to use that, especially if you might want to post your digital story on the Internet. We need to respect copyright and model appropriate use of music with our students!

Background Reading: The Center for Digital Storytelling web site has a copy of the Digital Storytelling Cookbook, the manual they created to accompany their workshop. You will find the first sections helpful to read prior to the class. There is a PDF version of the cookbook at (Note that this cookbook uses different versions of the software than we will be using in the class). If you are taking this class for graduate credit, you will be reading the book written by Joe Lambert of CDS.

I hope you are looking forward to this workshop. The better prepared you are, the more you will get out of it, and the better your final product will be. Do you want to see some great examples of digital stories done in other workshops? Go to this website for links to several examples.

If you have any questions, send me an e-mail:

See you soon!