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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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November162007

One Story, 50 Tools, Infinite Possibilities

Educator Alan Levine has proven the adage that there’s more than one side to every story by demonstrating 50 multimedia techniques to present the same tale. The result is an extraordinary collection of online creativity tools, with demonstrations of how each one was used to convey his original story. The classroom possibilities are simply mind-blowing.

It all began with a 60-second story contest a while back. Alan took up the challenge by putting together a short video slide show that tells the tale of an encounter with a stray dog named Dominoe.



But Alan was just getting warmed up. He decided to re-tell the story using freely available Web 2.0 tools, just to see how many ways it could be done. It didn’t take long for him to re-create 50 different versions of the story, each using a different online tool. Alan scoured the Web for all sorts of creativity tools: slideshow tools, timeline tools, video editing tools, even map-making tools. The end result is a jaw-dropping collection of multimedia variations on a single story. He recently presented the results of creative adventure at a conference in Australia; there’s a mp3 of his presentation if you want to hear him describe the project in his own words.

Because each tool is different, the story never gets experienced exactly the same way. One tool, OurStory, was designed to be used for documenting life events on a timeline:

Then there’s Mixercast, a multimedia widget generator:

Eyespot, meanwhile, is an online video editor:

And let’s not forget Google Maps. Yes, Google Maps. It never would have occurred to me to use a map to tell a story like this.



View Larger Map

And there are still 45 other versions, each one documented by Alan to explain its pros and cons. He also lists a number of tools that hit the cutting room floor - ones he decided not to feature in his list because they were unreliable or too difficult to use.

Alan’s collection is an amazing digital storytelling primer for educators and non-educators alike, demonstrating how different tools can convey the same basic story concepts. For teachers looking to engage their students in new forms of storytelling, there’s an incredible range of tools to choose from, depending on your goals. And within each tool, there are a myriad of ways to convey a story, through the adjusting of pacing, sound, images, text and edits. Give the same story plot to a group of students using the same tool, and they’ll still each tell it their own way. And if you have them come up with their own story ideas, the possibilities are endless. -andy

Filed under : Cool Tools, People, Video, Websites, Youth Media

Responses

Great blog and digital tools info! What about PhotoStory though?

Not sure we need 50 different ways to tell a story, but certainly some different ways are needed because all of us are stimulated by, learn, and retain things differently.

For timeline tools - another one I like more for educational purposes is xtimeline (www.xtimeline.com).

Andy, do you know Alan? We both used to work for the same college district. He was in the district offices, and I worked in the building next door. We’ve had many conversations over the years. This kind of project is right down his alley, he’s a tireless technologist, really driven and produces great results. If you ever speak with him, tell him I said Hello. Meanwhile, thanks for the overview and for highlighting Alan’s work. There’s much to glean from this experiment.

Thank you - great post! While we might not need 50 ways to tell a story, we might need to tell it 50 different ways to find the best method. I find myself doing this all the time. Sometimes the way you communicate a message is just or more important than the message itself.

This is incredible and such a gift to children who do not learn in traditional ways. It is so exciting to ‘hit upon’ the one avenue to understanding for some students. Until vnow it has been reading, writing, listening, projects, games, etc. but now… you have opened up an entirely new tool box of possibilities for teachers and students… Especially our younger ones who know, use, and like this technology more than their teachers!

This is incredible and such a gift to children who do not learn in traditional ways. It is so exciting to ‘hit upon’ the one avenue to understanding for some students. You have opened up an entirely new tool box of possibilities for teachers and students… especially our younger ones who know, use, and like this technology more than their teachers!

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