16 New Whoppers! Digital Stories

I’ve never done it formally, but have been in the periphery of some of the best folks who teach digital storytelling. My former colleagues at Maricopa, Linds Hicks, Rachel Woodburn, and Cheryl Colan have been generating magic for years (and right now they are weaving the same magic in New Zealand- Cheryl is even managing to vidblog some of the action).

Each summer, they have run a “Digital Storytelling LearnShop” for Maricopa faculty, that produced some of the most moving pieces I have seen anywhere. Okay, I am gushing with bias, but having been there in the past, I can say that it’s been the one workshop where everybody produces something of high and meaningful quality.

Since I was at NMC this year, I missed being there in mid-May, though I did pop in on the last day to see the final movies. What a show! And as part of some last work I did in my old job, I got the examples posted to the set of Digital Story examples. (Unfortunately, the Streaming Quicktime server there is kaput, so if you want streaming, use the Windows Media versions; the QuickTime links now point to the iPod versions which are on progressive download).

I hate to play favorites, but here are mine from the last batch (find all the movies from the list of examples):

Homeland Security is seemingly about tomotoes, from Linda’s experience growing up on a midwest farm, where they were unfashionable growing “organic” and comparing it now to the experience of picking up tomotoes at Safeway,. But Wham! It goes into a deeper place with her wondering about why in Arizona, we have tomatoes bearing stickers of origin in Mexico, Israel, etc. And ends with a sense of odd wonder about this world where we eat vegetables grown on the other side of the globe.

Useless Things are what we all have, right? Clutter? Gettng organized? Dmitri does a fast paced fun frolic through his things. What does he do with them?

Hope is what Stephanie seeks. As a college counselor, she is faced with helping a student who’s physical and tatoo’ed attributes butt up against her own sense of self. Great use of simple imagery and photos, and what a tough tale to tell.

Mrs. LeMon’s Orange Tree is the focus of Diane’s long history with a piano teacher who was very special to her. The pieces used in the story are all wonderful artifacts of her experience, down to the actually background music of her own child hood piano playing.

Here I Go Round in Circles is Margaret’s story of family and self, but what sets a lovely shiver of coolness down my spine is her own singing of the opening and closing tune. Whew! Soulful.

Well, I really should list all 16, but am getting tired of cutting and pasting image links, they were all special from the May 2006 class. All in all, we have 33 stories there for the sharing… all of which intimidate me even trying this.

Get thee to a Digital Storytelling workshop, best if you can track Joe down.

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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.


  1. Amazing. I’d like to talk to you more about the digital storytelling center’s workshops. I wonder if something like it could be replicated here at Penn State?

  2. Don’t see why not. The center offers workshops many times a year; and annualy the NMC conferences. What happened at Maricopa was one of the faculty mentioned (Rachel) took the CDS workshop when we brought them in around 2001. The other lead faculty (LInda) was studying the form as part of her sabbatical. They both have taken the advanced class which is a Train the trainer approach. But really, they have such great complementary talents.

    And from what I have seen- approaches that start with or focus on the technology are wrong- it’s all about the process, the creation of the story, the story circles they use in the CDS workshops.

    Find a champion or 2 and let them loose.

    You can read some of their experience at:

    they ahve done quite a bit since then, co-teaching a regular class twice a year, taking their workshops to Australia and New Zealand as part of an International Student exchange project. I can get you in touch with them if interested.

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