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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #17, 11 Digital Storytelling Tools

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Digital storytelling comes in many forms. Digital storytelling could refer to creating podcasts, creating videos, or creating multimedia ebooks to name of few of its forms. If you're considering developing your first digital storytelling project for your class, here some resources that can help you get started.

Ebooks and web references for digital storytelling.
One of the best people I know for advice about digital storytelling is Silvia Tolisano. Silvia Tolisano, the author of the excellent Langwitches blog, offers an awesome free ebook about digital storytelling. Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators is a 120 page guide to using digital storytelling tools in your classroom. The guide offers clear directions for using tools like Audacity, Google Maps, Photo Story, VoiceThread, and other digital media creation tools. Silvia's directions are aided by clearly annotated screenshots of each digital storytelling tool. Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators also provides a good explanation of digital storytelling in general and the benefits of using digital storytelling in your classroom. You can download the ebook for free on Lulu. You can also purchase a paperback copy of the book.

The Digital Storytelling Teacher Guide is a free twenty-eight page ebook produced by Microsoft. The guide outlines the basics of digital storytelling, offers ideas for digital storytelling projects for all grade levels, and provides examples of digital storytelling projects. Microsoft's Digital Storytelling Teacher Guide also offers instruction for using Windows Movie Maker and Photo Story in the classroom.

Digital storytelling guru Kevin Hodgson runs a website all about stopmotion movie creation. Kevin developed Making Stopmotion Movies as a how-to resource for teachers who are interested in having students create stopmotion movies. On Making Stopmotion Movies teachers will find downloadable storyboard and character development guides. Kevin provides an excellent outline of the whole movie making process. Visitors to Making Stopmotion Movies will also find video examples of real student productions.

The Digital Directors Guild is a project designed to help teachers develop digital storytelling projects for their classrooms. The Digital Directors Guild offers sample projects and teaching resources for all grade levels. The resources page of the Digital Directors Guild contains information regarding all stages of digital storytelling project development.

Tools for Creating Digital Stories.
Myna is a free web-based audio track mixer created by Aviary. Using Myna you can mix together up to ten tracks to create your own audio files. The sounds you mix can come from the Myna library, your vocal recordings made with Myna's recorder, or audio tracks that you upload to your Myna account. Using Myna you can record and save podcasts. You can then publish them to a free host like Blubrry.

Little Bird Tales is a nice site intended for younger students to use to create digital stories. Little Bird Tales walks users through each step of creating a multimedia story. Users can upload images, draw images, or record from their webcams. Stories can be written with text or narrated by students using microphones connected to their computers.

In the spring of 2010 JayCut relaunched its free, online, video editing service. JayCut has elements of iMovie and Movie Maker in a free online application. JayCut is free to use and your final product can be downloaded to your local computer. Here are some of the highlights of the JayCut editor:

  • Every element of your video can be added through simple drag and drop motions. The play length of each element in your video can be shortened or lengthened by simply dragging the ruler tools.
  • JayCut's API is free and allows you to put the JayCut video editor on your own website. Using their API you can install JayCut's video editor on your PHP-based website. JayCut offers step-by-step directions for installing their video editor on your website.
  • JayCut has options for adding slow motion effects, direct recording from your webcam, a green screen, and color editing.
For a quick and easy way to create simple videos from pictures, sound, text, and existing video clips try Animoto.  Animoto makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, and text. In the last year Animoto has added the option to include video clips in your videos too. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto. Animoto's free service limits you to 30 second videos. You can create longer videos if you apply for an education account. I like to use Animoto early in the school year to introduce my new students to some of the basic skills that will be carried across to more complex video creation later in the year.
ZooBurst is an exciting free service for creating digital stories. ZooBurst allows users to create 3D pop-up books using nothing more than public domain clip art and ZooBurst's web-based editing tools. Users can view ZooBurst 3D books in augmented reality by enabling their webcams (click webcam mode) then clicking the ZB button present on each story.

Simple Booklet is a free service offering online multimedia booklet creation and publishing. To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet. Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts Last.fm, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet. 
My Ebook is a new service for creating rich multimedia ebooks. My Ebook allows users to create ebooks that contain text, images, and videos on each page. My Ebook users can create ebooks from scratch or upload their existing PDF files to display in a book format. When starting an ebook from scratch on My Ebook, users can import images from their Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, and Photobucket accounts or upload new images directly to My Ebook. If you don't have any digital images you can select some from My Ebook's gallery. Videos can also be embedded into the pages of My Ebook. My Ebook provides a good variety of themes and templates to give each ebook a different look and feel. Ebooks created using My Ebook can be embedded into blogs and websites or shared via email.

One word of caution about My Ebook, you might not want to let your students browse the library of ebooks without supervision. I didn't see anything that was explicitly bad (the terms of service forbid that type of content) but there is some material that you might not want middle school students accessing.
For more information about creating videos using web-based tools, please see my free ebook, Making Videos on the Web.  

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