Digital Story

Story Assignment:

A complex digital story, educational in nature, using one of a range social media. Your story must:

●  Meet the overall quality of work standards listed above
●  Be educational
●  Be a story–not a digital lesson or lecture
●  Be viewable either as an embedded file or a link on the Story page of your e-portfolio
●  In addition to the embed/link of the story itself, describe the following on the Story page:
●  Why was this the right tool for you to use to tell your story, from a pedagogical perspective?
●  How did you purposefully select this for your storytelling tool, in pedagogical terms?
●  How would this story work within a course that you would teach based on pedagogical arguments?
●  Be sure to cite relevant literature to support your decisions.


Caught up in the discussion about creative commons, participatory culture and copyright, I used Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker to create my digital story. It is a fully online web-mix utility that allows users to pull in existing public-domain online media to create a composite. It is part of an online suite of software provided by Mozilla to teach digital literacy skills and has a built-in creative commons search utility and a utility to automatically credit authors of borrowed works. I used a few of my own drawings in the process which have subsequently become re-mixable creative commons material. Please keep in mind that the playback has some sync issues on various browsers (at one time everything was perfectly synced to the music but browser playback performance unfortunately fragments this).


Situating this in relation to my course:

In week 4 of my online medical/assistive product design studio, my students (post secondary industrial design) are focusing on empathy. They have two activities: 1 ) first to emulate an injury or illness for 24-72 hours to gain empathy and to document the journey; and, 2 ) to create or remix a piece of media that shows empathy for/with an object of design in consideration of its life-cycle for later assessment (LCA). The video mix below serves as an exemplar, or a starting point for students to remix (if they choose this route). Either way, they must personify and tell a story (whether positive or negative) to begin thinking about ‘cradle-to-grave’ life-cycle assessment versus designing for second-life use (cradle to cradle life cycle).


The Digital Story Artifact Provided:

(Occasionally Popcorn Maker has bugs because it’s still in development. This means that video playback doesn’t always work right. If something looks funny, it’s likely Mozilla is working on a bug!) External link here.

Pedagogical Relation:

“Select the media type that most effectively presents the learning material in order to achieve intended learning outcomes” – Siemans, 2003.


In my opinion this choice of media in relation to the topic is apt, as product life-cycle assessment ultimately looks at the materials and timelines involved in the life of a product. The process of designing sustainable products asks students to consider how these timelines might be juggled or remixed for increased sustainability. Any storyboarding or timeline-based tool could provide a good basis for this.


“Effective learning is linked more to media characteristics and learning context.” (Siemans, 2003)


While this was just one playful example, a timeline-based media project echos and speaks the same kind of creational/operational language. It allows students to invest themselves in stages, phases, emotional, social, and logistical factors through the development of a time-lined product narrative. The resultant new designs in design practice are often community or co-creational works, and Popcorn Maker provides collaborative tools that parallel these needs. Students in my course are encouraged to work together and contribute to each others works:


collaborate      remix-controls


Design is a highly participatory practice that often examines existing objects of culture to hybridize or re-design, and “this is precisely the way participatory culture works, we throw our ideas out into the world, we bring them back in an improved way because of our engagement in communities” (Jenkins, 2010). Students are often asked to create media-rich presentations through which to articulate and convey their work as a component of design practice, because these artifacts can be embedded in their digital portfolios and media.


Online participatory tools such as this provide a rich site to supports this sort of informal learning (Jenkins, 2010) and when used in conjunction with design thinking and practice, can be supportive of a community “in which the construction of knowledge is supported as a collective goal” (Barab & Duffy, 2000). Students can learn much through cultural reproduction but when they create new forms of culture by remixing and adding new pieces, they can become a part of a knowledge-building community which “is about actually increasing our cultural wealth” (Scardamalia, n.d.). Overall I was excited about the potential of this tool and the others provided in the Mozilla suite and pleased with how my exploration can engage and serve my students in their studies.


Evaluation against ACTIONS framework  (NETS standards also attached as it meets the majority of these):



Image source:  Emilian Robert Vicol. (2011). Very-Old-Shoes__15568. [Video file]. Retrieved from Flickr under CC by 2.0.

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