Digital storytelling: a meaningfu...
INTERNATIONAL REVIEW Digital storytelling: a meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning Alaa Sadik Published online: 11 April 2008 �� Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2008 Abstract Although research emphasizes the importance of integrating technology into the curriculum, the use of technology can only be effective if teachers themselves possess the expertise to use technology in a meaningful way in the classroom. The aim of this study was to assist Egyptian teachers in developing teaching and learning through the application of a particular digital technology. Students were encouraged to work through the process of producing their own digital stories using MS Photo Story, while being introduced to desktop production and editing tools. They also presented, published and shared their own stories with other students in the class. Quantitative and qualitative instruments, including digital story evaluation rubric, integration of technology observation instruments and interviews for evaluating the effectiveness of digital storytelling into learning were implemented to examine the extent to which students were engaged in authentic learning tasks using digital storytelling. The findings from the analysis of students-produced stories revealed that overall, students did well in their projects and their stories met many of the pedagogical and technical attributes of digital stories. The findings from classroom observations and interviews revealed that despite problems observed and reported by teachers, they believed that the digital storytelling projects could increase students��� understanding of curricular content and they were willing to transform their pedagogy and curriculum to include digital storytelling. Keywords Digital storytelling Engaged learning Photo story Technology integration Introduction Within the last 10 years, the Egyptian Ministry of Education (MoE) with the assistance of many international organizations (such as USAID and UNESCO) has introduced many education reforms to improve the educational system and raise teachers��� technological A. Sadik (&) Department of Instructional & Learning Technologies, College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 123 Education Tech Research Dev (2008) 56:487���506 DOI 10.1007/s11423-008-9091-8
awareness and encourage them to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into the curriculum with a greater emphasis on science, mathematics and the use of computers. In addition, new learning resource centers are being set up in schools, complete with laboratory equipment, audio-visual systems, computers and other teaching aids. However, although Egypt has made great strides in its general educational arena, growth in technological supports that facilitate educational advances have been slower. The use of computer software and hardware has not been fully understood or used and the integration of technology into the Egyptian education system is needed. Jacobsen (2001) believe that many teachers worldwide are not able to adopt technology for teaching and learning tasks, and the gap between technology presence in schools and its effective use is too wide. Many teachers believe that technology integration is a difficult, time-consuming and resource-intensive endeavor and is more trouble than it is worth (Sheingold and Hadley 1990). The under-utilization of technology is probably a result of a lack of vision of technology���s potential for improving teaching and learning (Office of Technology Assessment 1995) and the difficulty to cross the bridge between technology���s capabilities and curriculum requirements (SERVE 1996). Dexter et al. (1999) indicate that the effectiveness of technology integration into edu- cation is largely dependent upon its ability to engage students into learning. Trilling and Hood (1999) believe that the key in using educational technology is to utilize meaningful activities that may engage students to construct their knowledge in different ways, not available before the technology was introduced. Studies have shown that learner engagement is paramount to learning success (Herrington et al. 2003). Lim et al. (2006) reviewed the literature and found that there is a myriad of definitions for the term ���engagement���. They concluded that ���what is apparent about the definitions of engagement is that they entail some kind of mindfulness, intrinsic motivation, cognitive effort, and attention��� (p. 213). However, there are different levels of engagement that one can attain: The engagement can either be classified as high or low. Meaningful technology integration and learning Meaningful technology integration is defined as curricula utilizing authentic tasks that intentionally and actively help learners to construct their own meanings from thinking about experiences and allows for more interdisciplinary project-based instruction (Jonassen et al. 1999). Integration is defined not by the amount or type of technology used, but by how and why it is used (Earle 2002). Meaningful integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select tech- nology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information and present it professionally (Harris 2005). However, harnessing the power of the integration of technology requires not only a new or advanced technology, but also a systematic way of utilizing the technology to improve student learning (Schofield 1995). Research indicates that in order to achieve meaningful technology integration, learning must be designed from a constructivist approach that encourages students to learn in a social context and help them to develop an ability to readily create new knowledge, solve new problems and employ creativity and critical thinking (Griest 1996 Hoffman 1997 Mergendollar 1997 Richards 1998). Spivey (1997) indicated that constructivists view students as constructive agents and view knowledge as built instead of being passively received by students, whose ways of knowing and understanding influence what is known and understood. 488 A. Sadik 123
In addition, the interaction between students, the flow of ideas and thinking aloud encourage students to foster active learning, in which users discover and address gaps in their understanding when explaining concepts to others (Kafai et al. 1997 Tyner 1998). Constructivist strategies include collaborative and cooperative learning methods, engaging in critical and reflective thinking and evaluation through electronic portfolios (Nanjappa and Grant 2003). Jonassen and Carr (2000) believe that in order to help students to construct their knowledge, they should be actively involved in learning with the help of ICT tools. In addition, Wheatley (1991) argued that because a student will construct his/her own meaning based on his/her interpretation, technology can become a vital educational tool depending on the way it is used in learning. Strommen and Lincoln (1992) believe that it is not which technology is used, but how the technology is used which is relevant to a constructivist classroom. For example, the initial computer���s role in education has been largely viewed through Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), which is generally used for low-end tasks or pro- viding a richer and more exciting learning environment, such as drill and practice (Office of Technology Assessment 1995 Duffy and Cunningham 1996 Roe et al. 1998). How- ever, teachers can use computers, as tools for accessing information, interpreting and organizing their personal knowledge and producing and representing what they know to others, so as to engage students more, resulting in more meaningful and transferable knowledge (Jonassen et al. 1993). Lim and Tay (2003) classified ICT tools used in the classroom to improve student learning into four types: (1) informative tools (2) situating tools (3) communicative tools and (4) constructive tools. Informative tools are applications that store and provide vast amounts of information in various formats (e.g., databases, encyclopedias and web resources). Situating tools are systems that situate students in an environment where they may experience the context (e.g., simulations and games). Communicative tools are sys- tems that facilitate communication between the student and others (e.g., e-mail and discussion boards). Constructive tools are general-purpose ICT tools that can be used for manipulating information, constructing student���s own knowledge or to produce a certain tangible product for a given instructional purpose. PowerPoint and Word, for example, are found to be the most frequently used constructive tools by students for their presentations and special curriculum-based projects (Lim and Tay 2003). Multimedia authoring and pre- senting tools, in particular, like PowerPoint, Illustrator, MultiMedia Builder, HyperStudio, MovieMaker and iMovies have proved to be good constructive tools to learn through production, collaboration and project management. Digital storytelling and the curriculum Storytelling is the original form of teaching (Pedersen 1995). It is a simple but powerful method to help students to make sense of the complex and unordered world of experience by crafting story lines (Bruner 1990 Gils 2005). Although storytelling is not new, the idea of digital storytelling is new (Meadows 2003). Within the last 10 years, digital cameras, editing software, authoring tools and elec- tronic media outlets have encouraged teachers to utilize many more approaches and tools than ever before to help students to construct their own knowledge and ideas to present and share them more effectively (Standley 2003). One of these powerful approaches to multimedia production is digital storytelling. Digital storytelling 489 123