Digital Rainbow Storytelling was Mobility of Youth Workers - a Training Course - that took place in Kysak between February 27 and March 6, 2020.
The project had the following objectives: - To support the professional development of youth workers and improve the quality of youth work across Europe through innovation. - To facilitate personal development of the participants and their target groups. - To increase the capacities and international dimension of the partners and enable them to offer services that better respond to the needs of their target groups.
Digital storytelling activities help people express themselves and can contribute many benefits in organisational setting. Storytelling and digital tools are used worldwide to help communicate brand messages and market products and services. Professional use of digital storytelling helps to present organizations better which might result in more public support for their activities.
Participants brought back to their organizations new ideas and tools that can be used to develop innovative activities and reach new target groups or improve existing programs.
The project addressed two important needs that are visible amongst youth workers actively involved in working with marginalised youth. The first of these needs was their lack of knowledge of practical but innovative methods that can be used for the benefits of their target groups, providing them with a safe space for sharing their experiences and expressing their emotions.
The second need was the observed reluctance to use methods based on digital means of communication that stems from either lack of knowledge or lack of appreciation of the potential of this kind of tools for youth work.
This project seeked to address both of the issues mentioned by giving youth workers a chance to go through an intensive training on a method that is practical and can be implemented while working with different kind of groups and that at the same time is very much based on the assumption that digital competences are crucial for organizing high quality innovative youth projects.
Digital Storytelling Resource Corner
What is Digital Storytelling?
Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. There are a wealth of other terms used to describe this practice, such as digital documentaries, computer-based narratives, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive storytelling, etc.; but in general, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.
As with traditional storytelling, most digital stories focus on a specific topic and contain a particular point of view. However, as the name implies, digital stories usually contain some mixture of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips, and/or music. Digital stories can vary in length, but most of the stories used in education typically last between 2 and 10 minutes. The topics used in digital storytelling range from personal tales to the recounting of historical events, from exploring life in one’s own community to the search for life in other corners of the universe, and literally, everything in between.
Despite its emphasis on computer technology, digital storytelling is not a new practice. One of the field’s most noted pioneers is Joe Lambert, the co-founder of the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS), a nonprofit, community arts organization in Berkeley, California. The CDS has been assisting young people and adults in the creation and sharing of personal narratives through the combination of thoughtful writing and digital media tools since the early 1990's.
Another pioneer in the field, British photographer, author, and educator Daniel Meadows defined digital stories as “short, personal multimedia tales told from the heart.” The beauty of this form of digital expression, he maintained, is that these stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject, and shared electronically all over the world. Meadows added that digital stories are “multimedia sonnets from the people” in which “photographs discover the talkies, and the stories told assemble in the ether as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, a gaggle of invisible histories which, when viewed together, tell the bigger story of our time, the story that defines who we are.”
Researcher and digital culture consultant, John Seely Brown described digital storytelling this way: I’m particularly interested in Digital Storytelling, in new ways to use multiple media to tell stories and in the ability of kids, who are now growing up in a digital world, to figure out new ways to tell stories. They have the ability to build interpretive movies very simply and to lay sound tracks around the content. They condition or “sculpture” the context around the content. The serious interplay between context and content is key to what film—and rich media in general—are about.
Today the use of digital storytelling is being practiced in neighborhood community centers, schools, libraries and businesses, by novice technology users to those with advanced skills. In the field of education, teachers and their students, from early childhood classrooms through graduate school, are using digital storytelling in many different content areas and across a wide range of grade levels.
History Joe Lambert, co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Storytelling talks about the conception of digital storytelling and how it has evolved into what it is today - an international non-profit organization dedicated to surfacing authentic voices around the world through group process and participatory media creation, to share and bear witness to stories that lead to learning, action, and positive change. https://vimeo.com/33556414
Finding the story The process begins with creative activities designed to help the participants to find what story to tell. It could be a very deep and personal tale or something that is not too hard to tell but still life-changing experience. It is important for the person to be able to tell the story without being hurt. Traumatic experiences that are still hurting may not be the best choice, so the facilitators should support the storyteller in the process of story discovery.
1. The story of my name
Introduction to each other can start with a storytelling from the very beginning. In this activity the facilitator invites each participant to share the story behind their names one by one. During the activity some of them already start to discover a story they can tell later on or some curious connections between them.
2. Speed dating
On a flipchart facilitator draws a clock with 6 different hours marked. Participants are asked to copy it and find one person to date at each hour indicated. After everyone has a dating schedule, facilitator reads out a question for each time and participants are invited to discuss the given topics in pairs for 3 minutes. The aim of this exercise is to try to see everything as a potential story that is worth sharing.The questions we used for this exercise were as follows: - A story behind one of your tattoos or scars; - One of the smells you like; - One of the furniture you like; - An animal you would like to be and why; - One of your favorite people (a friend, a family member etc.); - A travel or a trip that had an impact on your life.
3. The story behind my last picture
Participants are asked to pair up and open the last picture they took with their mobile phones and think about the story behind it, asking each other questions such as Where was it taken? Why did I take a picture like this? How did I feel? Was it something important? They are invited to use the very last images they have taken, even though it might seem boring or irrelevant (such as a picture of the notes they used to study for an exam or a phone number they wanted to remember). The facilitator should encourage them to see interesting stories in seemingly boring situations. After thinking of the story participants share in pairs, asking each other questions to discover more details connected to the story behind the picture.
4. My life story in a minute
Participants are divided into pairs. In the first round of this exercise they are invited to tell the other person their life story in one minute. No additional instructions are given so that participants can talk freely and choose on what they would like to focus in their stories. After the first round all of them are invited to share the impressions in the big group, reflecting on how their narratives were created with questions such as What kind of chronology did you choose? Where did you start your story from? How many small stories or plots were there? In the second round participants are asked to retell the same stories but focusing on something more specific and experiment with the narrative and the chronology, not necessarily starting with I was born in....; I am ..... years old; I study....
The seven elements of digital storytelling
1. Point of view The point of view element focuses on both the story’s purpose and perspective of the author. The purpose of a story or narrative can be to inform the listener about a specific idea or phenomena, or it could inspire the listener to action. These stories can be first-person personal and reflective or third-person historical and analytical.
2. A dramatic question The dramatic question is the key inquiry that holds the listener’s attention. It involves the inner conflict or problem the protagonist (as the reflective author) is trying to overcome. By the end of the story, this question should either be resolved or the listeners should have been provided enough information to resolve it themselves.
3. Emotional content Each story, or narrative, should include an aspect of emotional content that connects to its listeners’ feelings and evokes a response, whether visceral or subliminal. These written narratives should effectively convey emotions of humor, empathy, fear, anxiety, solitude, amongst many others. This element can be challenging as it requires authors to deeply consider the perspectives of their listeners because what may be interpreted as humorous to one person, may be offensive to someone else.
4. The gift of your voice The narrator’s voice is a gift that must not be taken for granted, but rather recognized and nurtured as it is the vehicle that delivers the story’s message. It carries varying degrees of richness, context, character, and personality that can strengthen a story. Distractions such as an ambient background noise, repeating statements, and a low tone of voice can affect the interpretation of the story, no matter how well-written. If an author has a thick accent or mild speech impediment this can also affect and enhance how the story’s message is interpreted. Successful mastery of the “Your Voice” element suggests the student has practiced the art of oration and can effectively deliver a clear presentation.
5. Economy A digital story should be no longer than three minutes. With this in mind, a written narrative should not be any longer than one and half pages double spaced and less than 400 words. If the narrative is any longer than three minutes, the author takes the risk of losing the listener’s attention. The art and craft of editing and revision are needed to economize the salience of a narrative.
6. Pacing Pacing is connected to the inflection, cadence and clarity of an author’s voice. The best practice is to record the entire narrative in one take, without any interruptions or digital edits. Authors should pause for each comma, semi-colon and period that they read while seeking adequate breath control when recording narratives. They should infer inquiry when reading a sentence with a question mark and project excitement when reading a statement with an exclamation mark. To master the pace of a digital story requires both patience and practice, yet, most importantly; it requires authors to listen to, and feel comfortable with, their own voice.
7. The power of a soundtrack A digital story’s soundtrack can include music or other sound effects that amplify the emotionality of subject matter or support the story line. However, this element should be approached cautiously as musical soundtracks add an additional layer of information that can be distracting as it competes with the audio of the author’s voice. Moreover, issues concerning copyright and attribution affect the use and appropriation of a soundtrack. It is advisable that authors, especially those with limited digital storytelling experience, ensure that their “Gift of Your Voice” element is flawless before proceeding to add an additional soundtrack.
Tips for Producing the Digital Story
Voice The voice is the element that gives life to the script. Each person’s voice is unique; it is a gift that is used to connect with our friends, families and communities. When we use our voice to record our story, we are reaching out to all those people who will watch our digital story. The words of the script will communicate some of the information we want our audience to know, but we also communicate our feelings through the sound of our voice. We let the audience see a small part of our personality, and because of that the audience connects with us and what we have to say more easily.
A lot of people don’t like the way their voice sounds when it’s recorded. However, one of the requirements of a digital story is to use the gift of your voice to connect with people that will view the story. When recording the story, it’s helpful to remember that your story, your message and your perspective is really important for other people to understand your world.
You can also think of the images and music as part of your voice. The audience of the story will learn about your experiences by hearing what you have to say. The audience will also learn about your experiences by watching the images in the digital story and by listening to the music. It’s important to select images and music that add to the meaning of your story and send the message you want your story to send. Be careful about selecting images and music that contradict your message.
Soundtrack Music is often used to tell stories, and it can be an important element of a digital story. However, it is not absolutely essential. A good digital story does not have to have music. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting music.
One the music should fade into the background as the voiceover plays. Avoid choosing music with a lot of volume changes. Also, lyrics can interfere with listening to the voiceover. It is usually easiest to avoid music with lyrics.
The music should complement the story. It constitutes another layer of the narrative that is helping to communicate the message of the story. It can help convey the sense of time and place in a story, as well as set the emotional tone. For example, many people (both youth and adults) have used music from their homeland when telling immigration stories. Also, make sure that the music is not interfering with the emotional tone of the story; a story about loss should not incorporate festive music. When the music does have lyrics, make sure that they do not undermine the overall message of the story.
Finally, special effects can also be part of the soundtrack. Many video editing programs include special audio effects. Sounds such as horns beeping, children on a playground, crickets at night, alarm clocks, can be successfully incorporated into a digital story.
Pacing Pacing the voiceover and the visual narrative of a digital story is part of creating a clear and evocative voice. It’s important to speak as normally as possible when recording the script – with all the natural variations of a regular speaking voice. This can be particularly challenging for anybody who feels self conscious of their voice or intimidated by the recording process. The objective is to create a voice recording that is varied in tempo and tone – it should speed up and slow down at appropriate moments and contain the inflections that reflect the emotional tone of the story.
A few simple techniques can encourage a natural sounding voiceover. First, it is helpful to use a headset, rather than a tabletop microphone. A tabletop microphone, or one you hold in your hand, can be more intimidating for the person recording the voiceover. Also, the distance from the speaker’s mouth to the microphone stays more consistent with a headset microphone.
Also, when recording the story it is helpful to sit up straight and keep your shoulders back to make sure that there is good airflow into your diaphragm. It’s important to remind your students how important it is for other people to hear their story. Finally, one good voiceover recording trick is to imagine that you are telling the story to a particular person you know and care about. Create an image of that person in your mind as you start the recording and pretend you are talking to them from across the kitchen table.