Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Stories of Service-Learning: Guidelines for Increasing Student Engagement with Digital Storytelling

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Stories of Service-Learning: Guidelines for Increasing Student Engagement with Digital Storytelling

Article excerpt

Abstract

Visual and media literacy skills are becoming increasingly important for successful communication. To support the acquisition of these skills, the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries collaborated with the Department of Communication Studies to provide support for two sections of an Intercultural Communication class in the creation of digital stories. As part of their course requirements, students completed service hours in the community and then incorporated narrative, images, video, and music into digital stories that could be shared with their community partners. Working through the library's Dynamic Media Lab, a librarian and a media specialist taught students about image creation and use, ethical use of materials, and video editing. Through this project, a number of guidelines were developed for the successful implementation of digital media projects. These guidelines focused on using content ethically, teaching students with different skill levels, managing a significant time commitment, controlling for project quality, and collaborating with campus entities. Through collaboration with teaching faculty and other campus and community partners, libraries can use digital stories to increase student engagement in the learning process and to teach a variety of digital media skills.

Visual and media literacy skills are becoming increasingly important for successful communication. Libraries are embracing new opportunities to support students in learning skills related to visual communication, including content creation with new media, the ethical use of images, and the sharing of content in social media spaces. This article describes a project at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Libraries in which two library staff members-a librarian and a media specialist-collaborated with a Communication Studies professor to provide assistance for two sections of an Intercultural Communication class in the creation of digital stories. As part of the course requirements, students performed service hours with community organizations and then created digital stories as a way to reflect upon and share their experiences. The project provided students with an opportunity not only to create and reflect but also to acquire digital media and visual literacy skills that may be helpful to them in future coursework and employment. In this article, the authors will describe how the digital storytelling project was designed and executed at UNR and provide guidelines for executing digital media projects to increase student engagement and to support a variety of learning objectives.

Literature Review

Digital Storytelling

While a digital story can refer to any story told using digital technologies, it is often associated with a video narrative that is created using a combination of different media, such as photos, recorded narration, video clips, music, and Web publishing (Robin, 2014). The promotion of digital storytelling has occurred largely through the work of the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California, which has provided more than 1,000 workshops on this topic since its founding in 1994 and has used digital stories as a way of both strengthening community and drawing attention to issues related to social inequities (Center for Digital Storytelling, 2014; Lambert, 2013).

Through the work of the CDS, the term digital story has come to be associated with a very distinct format: A typical digital story provides a short (usually under 5 minutes) first-person account of a lived experience that is enhanced through music and illustrated through still photographs (although some projects include video clips as well) (Lambert, 2013). The CDS described the following seven elements of digital storytelling:

1. Point of view: the unique perspective that the storyteller brings to the story.

2. A dramatic question: the problem that drives the story and reaches resolution in the end.

3. …

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