April 28th, 2010
Alright, so I just wanted to start off saying that I loved this class. It was by far one of my favorite classes I have ever taken here at Mary Washington! However, the first day I walked into the class and found out that we would have to set up our own spaces and eventually create our own digital stories, I was a little overwhelmed. I decided originally that I was just going to take the class pass/fail so I wouldn’t have to worry too much about it. However, as we started getting into the blogging and learning about the different tools we could use to create stories, I was riveted and decided that there was no point taking the class pass/fail since I was having so much fun with it. I must admit that some of the articles we read at the very beginning of the semester, in particular the Engelbart and O’Reilly articles, were incredibly boring especially since I was not very interested in learning about the history of the computer or slogging through a ton of technological jargon I didn’t understand. I do feel, though, that the Gardner Campbell and Alexander and Levine articles were good at establishing the foundation of the course. They really explored the storytelling aspects that were emphasized in this class as well as highlighted how beneficial it is to have students create their own personal domains where they are in control of what they learn and explore.
Honestly, I really liked all the assignments we had to do, especially the Jing Project one where we had to pick a location and talk about it as we navigated around the area we chose. I not only learned how to capture what I was doing on my screen as I was actually doing it, but I got to further explore Google Street View while thinking back on fond memories I had when I was younger. Doing the project where we experimented with the archived instructional video clips to create our own more contemporary video was a lot of fun and helped me learn more about editing on Windows Movie Maker. Also, finding the different sound clips to put together to tell a story was also a really good assignment that showed me just how much of a story can be conveyed by simply using sound. However, I wish that we had had more time to work on the sound project in class. I felt a little rushed at the end and had to work on it on my own outside of class to finish it and put it all together. The week where we experimented with photography was particularly memorable. I thought using the Twitter “Daily Shoot” Challenges was an awesome and challenging way to play around with taking pictures. I’ve always enjoyed photography, although I have never taken any actual classes in it. It’s always been more for fun, and to have some sort of prompt guiding me to take pictures of something while still allowing me to choose what I wanted to capture was great.
I also liked the assignment where we had to tell a story three different ways. I feel like doing that gave me the opportunity to experiment more with all those different tools that Professor Groom linked to us. I spent a lot of time on this assignment, but I thought it was fun getting to learn more about the different options that are out there and available to use creatively. Besides the tools, I thought it was really helpful seeing examples of other people’s digital stories. Just seeing how everyone’s story was different and can be expressed in completely different ways was fascinating. I thought that is was good starting off with just using a series of pictures to create our first digital stories. Although, I remember that it was frustrating using such a limited number of photos to express the story I wanted to convey!
I really think that all the assignments were fun and taught me a lot about the different online tools and programs that may be useful in telling stories. I can’t say that any of the projects were a waste of time or that any of them did not teach me something new. I’m sure telling Professor Groom that I liked all the assignments does not really help him, but seriously, I really thought all the projects were challenging and beneficial in teaching me more about how to use a variety of digital media to get across ideas or to convey stories.
As for my own digital story, I had a great time putting it together. I didn’t consider it work at all. It was awesome being able to document the last month or so of my senior year in college. Filming different events I went to along with interviewing my friends and putting together slideshows that included old photos and good memories my friends and I have had in the past was so much fun. I really looked forward to being able to film my friends and get their reactions when I put the camera on them. Editing was also an enjoyable learning experience. Just knowing that I caught all this footage, cut it up, and then put it all together to create something was so much more meaningful to me than knowing that I was doing all of it for a grade. I can not wait to go back over all the footage one day and “relive” this moment in my life. What a cool thing to do! It was like I put together a living scrapbook of my memories, and I was doing it for myself really, not for a professor and not for a school assignment. I mean it was partly done because it was an assignment I needed to do, of course. However, once I got started, I felt like it was my own personal project, only initially motivated by the fact I needed to do it for class, but actually fueled and maintained by my own desire to find my voice and document it so I could look back at it later in my life. I feel like my story has inspired me to continue documenting my life, going beyond this class.
Overall, this class was great because Professor Groom gave us enough space to let us explore on our own, but he still provided the structure and assistance that helped guide us in that exploration and experimentation with digital storytelling. If I had the chance to take this class again, I absolutely would!