Digital Storytelling: Post Workshop Reflection

Poster for the Digital Storytelling Workshop

Workshop Dates: October October 10, 11 and 13, 2016

Screening Date: November 3, 2016

Development: Hiroyo Saito, Charles Woodard and Alexander Savoth

Session Leaders: Charles Woodard, Alexander Savoth and Nimisha Ladva

Participants: 9 (Seven students and two faculty members)

 

In a workshop that was held over fall break, student and faculty participants spent three days developing digital stories using learned concepts related to both traditional storytelling and modern multimedia production. Each participant arrived to the workshop with at least one story that they planned to explore over the course of the workshop, though most changed their topic as the workshop progressed. Ultimately, their task was to create a 3-5 minute video which featured a recorded voice-over and personally curated still imagery.

The first day of the workshop, led predominantly by Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Nimisha Ladva, focused on developing and critiquing stories. Nimisha shared examples from The Moth, which demonstrated a synergy between engaging content and powerful performance. The group discussed various story arcs and how change agents can affect characters to ultimately provide some form of realization or epiphany. At various points, breakout groups were formed in order to share stories and provide critical feedback. There were guidelines established early in the day to ensure a safe environment for sharing and discussing personal or sensitive topics. Overall, participants seemed to benefit greatly from these breakout groups. This was evident from certain responses received in our post-workshop survey. One student stated, “Sharing the story in groups and getting feedback were good experiences, and also were helpful to articulate my thoughts and elaborate my story. Also, I really liked the workshop’s small, relaxing community.” It should be noted that there were roughly ten participants, which seemed to be an ideal number for this particular workshop.

The remaining two days of the workshop were co-led by Digital Media Specialist Charles Woodard and Instructional Technology Specialist Alexander Savoth. The two worked together to lead demonstrations on Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere and Audacity. Participants recorded their voice-overs using portable stereo recording devices, and edited the resulting audio with Audacity. Once edited, the audio was then exported from Audacity and imported into Adobe Premiere. Participants then worked to gather and edit both found and personally shot imagery. These images were laid into a timeline in Adobe Premiere, synched to their recorded voice-over and keyframed to add the illusion of motion. The second day included the majority of the demonstrations, while the third day acted primarily as a workday.

Of the nine participants who remained through all three days, none of them were able to finish their piece before the end of the third day. The screening was scheduled three weeks after the workshop, giving those who hadn’t finished time to wrap up. In hindsight, expecting students to find time in their schedules beyond their coursework was a bad assumption. For that reason, only five participants were able to complete their pieces by the screening date. Those who screened their work, however, received extremely positive feedback from a decent sized group of attendees including President Kim Benson.

For the most part, our post-workshop survey revealed that participants expectations were generally met or exceeded. While the specific technologies covered weren’t necessarily low barrier, responses showed both an appreciation for the challenge and the potential that an introductory knowledge of such software could provide. One participant wrote, “The technological aspects of this workshop were not too challenging, as Alex and Charles did a great job of explaining everything. I initially was expecting the technological aspects of this workshop to be a little difficult, since I have no background or experience with any of the programs we used but I feel confident moving forward with these programs for any future projects I might pursue.”

Some criticism that we received was that we did not provide enough examples of finished work to give the participants a better idea of our expectations. One participant also stated that there seemed to be a slight disconnect between the storytelling examples and the ultimate goal. Specifically, Nimisha’s examples were more geared towards live performance, whereas these stories were meant for a different context. However, as stated earlier, participants found great value in the breakout groups, which allowed for in depth discussion and feedback during the storytelling portion. “My favorite aspect of the workshop was the group breakout sessions because I felt like a lot of the feedback I received is what made me feel confident about pushing forward with the story that I chose to work with for this workshop. It was also cool to meet the people in this workshop and get to know them better through the group breakout sessions.” This feedback was particularly reassuring, because our aim had been to advocate student expression and it would seem that this Digital Storytelling initiative accomplished that goal.

Moving forward, we will certainly showcase examples early in the workshop, so that participants can begin to visualize their story in context. It will help to be able to show future participants the work that was created in this workshop as well. This should aid in strengthening the connection between the storytelling and the multimedia portion. Ideally, we would like all participants to finish their projects by the end of the third day, and for future workshops we will mostly likely schedule the screening early in the week following the workshop. This will still provide a few days of cushion for those that need it, though our hope is that an earlier screening date will encourage participants to finish on time and remain excited about the showcase.

Select videos from the workshop can be viewed on our blog.

Digital Storytelling Workshop Feedback

Q1 – What were your expectations entering the workshop? If your expectations were not met, what could we have done differently to meet those expectations?

  • Learning the basic techniques of Adobe softwares was my reason to join the workshop.
  • I had no real expectations and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was going to be something more like blogging.
  • My expectations entering the workshop was to gain some insight to storytelling and basic computer skills that would allow me to create a visual component for my digital story. These expectations were definitely met.
  • I signed up with the hope of learning new technologies available to students that I can perhaps use in my class projects. Also I wanted to see things from a student’s perspective. If I am asked to do a project with media I am not comfortable with, how would I feel. My expectations were exceeded.
  • My expectations were to learn more about video editing and to make a video. My expectations were met!
  • I expected to learn how to work with Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and Audacity. I would say my expectations were surpassed when we were meeting with Nimisha and working out the storytelling aspect of the project, as I thought that would be something we were either expected to come in with, or develop on our own time.

Q2 – Did you find the technological aspects of this workshop to be particularly challenging? Please explain.

  • Yes. Because we learnt how to use softwares a few days before we actually use, I thought it was hard to remember what to do. But,  I found really helpful to actually experience and practice using once in the demo session.
  • Not particularly! Charles and Alex’s tutorials were really helpful.
  • The technological aspects of this workshop were not challenging as Alex and Charles did a great job explaining everything. I initially was expecting the technological aspects of this workshop to be a little difficult since I have no background or experience with any of the programs we used but I feel confident moving forward with these programs for any future projects I might pursue.
  • What I generally find challenging about technology is that it is always changing. One learns one thing one day, and next time tries to use it, it may be obsolete. However, what we were shown/taught during the workshop seems manageable, especially if one has the need for it.
  • The technological aspect was fine, I’m used to using the software so I kind of wish we had gone over the software more.
  • I think that I found the technological aspects of the workshop not too overwhelming, and just enough to get us started, and working on the projects.

Q3 – What was your favorite aspect of the workshop? Why?

  • Sharing the story in a group and getting feedback were good experiences, and also were helpful to articulate my thoughts and elaborate my story.  Also, I really like the workshop’s small, relaxing  community.
  • Learning how to put a story together and being able to write my own unique story, with the help of all the small groups and helpers in the workshop. I think I learned a lot about myself through this process, and my story couldn’t have been written or developed without them. The feedback was super super helpful.
  • Mt favorite aspect of the workshop was the group breakout sessions because I felt like a lot of the feedback I received is what made me feel confident about pushing forward with the story that I chose to work with for this workshop. It was also cool to meet the people in this workshop and get to know them better through the group breakout sessions.
  • I enjoyed all aspects of the workshop. Revisiting an old story I had written a while back, the positive feedback and encouragement were wonderful. Learning and relearning programs like photoshop. Socializing with everyone. Thank you for the food and your generosity and patience.
  • The photo and video editing tutorials because they were very helpful and informative.
  • My favorite aspect of the workshop was listening to other people’s stories in our breakout sections. Though I also really enjoyed getting time to work with the various programs since I’m just a very hands-on person.

Q4 – What was your least favorite aspect of the workshop? Why?

  • 10 am -5 pm is kind a long.
  • Not knowing what my end project should resemble. I was a little confused when Nimisha showed us the  live storytellers, but our project was different in that there were no live components to it and it was all going to be on video. I wish there was a sample or example to know what our end projects should look like.
  • My least favorite aspect of the workshop was the recording component simply because of how much I hate recording myself.
  • I cannot think of any. The workshop was well organized and well supported. The time was well used.
  • None. I had fun!
  • I guess I can’t control who stays or goes? But I wish more people would’ve stayed for all three days! I think they missed out, and we missed out on hearing their stories and seeing how they would’ve approached the workshop!

Q5 – Would you recommend this workshop to a friend?

# Answer % Count
1 Absolutely 66.67% 4
2 Yes, but it would depend on the friend 33.33% 2
3 No 0.00% 0
Total 100% 6

Q6 – How helpful was the following demonstration in the creation of your Digital story and/or for future work?

Question Not helpful somewhat helpful helpful very helpful extremely helpful Total
Adobe Photoshop 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 20.00% 1 0.00% 0 80.00% 4 5
Adobe Premiere 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 16.67% 1 0.00% 0 83.33% 5 6
Audacity 0.00% 0 16.67% 1 0.00% 0 16.67% 1 66.67% 4 6
Storytelling with Nimisha 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 20.00% 1 40.00% 2 40.00% 2 5
Group Breakout Sessions 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 33.33% 2 66.67% 4 6

Q7 – If you marked not helpful or somewhat helpful for any of the previous demonstrations, what about that demonstration was lacking?

  • I think I just already knew how to use Audacity so it didn’t really make a difference to me. I did learn a few new things about it though, such as how to adjust the recording volume and such.
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Q8 – Please provide any additional information that you would like us to have about the workshop.

  • Thank you for the great workshop! I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to watching others’ works.
  • I loved the breakout sessions and all the feedback I got in working on my story. Thanks especially to Alex, Hiroyo, and Charles for all the help in every part of it. I didn’t expect to be learning so much, but I was encouraged to write my story. Thanks for running this workshop!
  • I’m not sure whether this was mentioned somewhere in flyers that I have not seen but I think it would be helpful for future participants to be aware ahead of time of the hours that this workshop requires. Although I understand why the hours of the workshop were from 930-5pm, I think a lot of the people who came in the first day wanted to stick with this workshop but were not able to because of other commitments/circumstances.
  • Thank you.
  • I was kind confused by Nimisha’s workshop because I feel like her form of storytelling is more performative and a different type of storytelling to making videos. It was helpful in understanding what is involved in storytelling but I there also needed to be a bridge between performing a story and telling a story through images and film.
  • Maybe 1 more day? To work, critique drafts, and export? But I’m being nitpicky! It was overall very positive for me!

 

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