I was superexcited when Heather Durnin invited me to visit her grade 8 students in Wingham, Ontario, but the bonus was being able to connect her class with Clarence Fisher’s one up in Snowy River, Manitoba. This came togather over a few emails in the last 5 days, and we settled on a demo and then hands on session with Five Card Flickr Stories done live via a Google Hangout

One of the more fun, but also a bit challenging ways to do this, is as a group, so we had both classes pick the photos for a group story. What is interesting from the times I was inspired this from the demos of Five Card Nancy by Ruben Puentedura, is the discussion of the why for the photo choices, especially as you get to later rounds and need to think about how they are connected.

Our group ended up with a dark mystery involving a strange door, a man perhaps dead or sleeping, and maybe a place to hide a body. But the real interesting part was when the netbooks got passed out and the students started doing their own stories

There was at least 25 new stories added when the class ended, and likely more were done. Heather had set up a google doc with her students where they each entered the URL for their own stories, plus we had them volunteer to share theirs or nominate another students to share with the group (I like How Heather makes it an option for someone to not share out loud if they did not want to)

I see Clarence has blogged this faster then me, awesome!

in addition I saw inventiveness, like how one student incorporated a flickr image not found right into her story. Another student tried going back in the browser, ended up with 6 photos, but was not able to save (aha a bug for me to fix!).

We also looked at the feature where you can see how one photo appears in multiple stories, like the one of a turtle a few students had used which led to seeing a funny story with an ending perhaps not best for the turtle.

I then suggested we create a story space just for the Idea Hive, which took me about 3 minutes to put in place- so the students interested in adding photos just need to tag them in flickr and they can now use Five Card Flickr to tell stories just from this set of photos .

To make sure it worked, I created this one, from which i can be retweeted, cut and pasted into a blog, or retold with a different story for the same photos


Five Card Story: With a Paradox Comes….

a The Idea Hive story created by CogDog


flickr photo by mrfishersclass


flickr photo by mrfishersclass


flickr photo by mrfishersclass


flickr photo by cogdogblog


flickr photo by cogdogblog

It’s cold. Dark. I am supposed to find my way somewhere, but every time I try I find myself snowed in or headed against a wall.

I’m ready to give up.

I turn from the wall, and am blinded by bright light. A goddess is singing a melody I do not know in a language I do not understand. But I do. She is offering me something special, something that if I take, your give me all of the wisdom I would ever need. I would know it ALL.

But alas, it is a paradox, for with that power what is there to seek?

I guess I will just stay where I am, happy in my mud.


One thing Heather and were talking about when she walked me out was how to prompt students to write the story part and have it be more than a string of captions for the photos- the tendency (and it happens to me too) is to go very literal “A hungry dog sat on a bench and chased a bird that came from a jar of peanut butter. A Cat laughed”. I’m thinking the part to tell occur in the spaces between the photos, like the frames of the comics as described by Scott McCLoud

It’s beyond exciting to be in a classroom where you see a site you built being used (enthusiastically) by students.

A few things that come up with what I would like to add to the site:

  • A way to search / find stories; there are almost 8000 of them, and if you do not save the link, it’s fairly impossible to find without a lot of browsing. This should be easy.
  • Some way to view a story or a set of photos in a larger slideshow, make it easier to display, larger images. I think this is pretty doable with the same jQuery slideshow I use on pechaflickr
  • Frankly, the storybuilding interface could me spiffed up with something more scented of Ajax; the current site requires page loads and some JavaScript cookies to keep track of things.
  • Perhaps some way to tag stories to be able to organize them ???

Anyhow, a big thanks to Clarence and Heather for inviting me in! What they do for collaborating via the Idea Hive is inspirational to say the least. I recall meeting Clarence in person at the 2008 Learning 2 conference and this was just getting started. They do this without big bucks, no hype, and the use of a raft of open tools. And a ton of creativity.

If your class is interested in doing something with Five Card Flickr, let me know! I just might be passing through your town… The code is provided free if you want to install a local copy, but it takes little effort for me to set up a tag for you on my site.

Update Oct 29 2012
Some example stories from the students first try with Five Card Flickr. Heather is going to have them add photos next week to the new flickr tag set, and will be working with them to create more cohesive stories.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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