Teachers narratives in digital storytelling : transformative learning spaces

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Paper presented 17052013 at Teacher Education and Policies in Education international conference, hosted at the University of Helsinki.


  • 1. Transformative Learning SpacesTeachers narrativesin digital storytelling experiencesM. Vivitsou, J. Saari, V. Harju, J. Multisilta, H. Niemi, A. Siewiorek, J. Honkala, K. LampiCICERO Learning Network, University of Helsinki
  • 2. Digital technologies in pedagogyTeachers seek new ways to integrate technologiesin pedagogical practice. They do so in order tocreate opportunities and spaces for students tomake meaningful use of digital media and tools.Digital technologies disrupt the normal course ofthe pedagogical meeting, i.e., where teachersand students intentional activities intersectChallenges to meet: search for and applyappropriate teaching methodologies, addresstechnical problems, develop new literacies (e.g.,digital, network etc.)Therefore, the everydayness of the classroom is indisorder.
  • 3. Digital storytelling: a new everydaynessin pedagogy? Understanding the concept of everydayness is central to makingsense of the structure of a persons world. Everydayness refers to theabsorption of an individual into the world, it is the rhythm of life orsurface existence; it is the practical, pre-critical way of being in theworld; the term suggests sameness but in everydayness occurs themoment by moment battle of saving or losing oneself (Ilsley et al,forthcoming) Digital storytelling is a complex, multi-dimensional process ofchanges and transformations. Among others, creating storiesrequires : topic selection, tie with students choices and curriculum,pedagogical design, activity implementation, multi-levelcollaboration, peer-to-peer support, multiple literacies on stage.This complexity creates the space for a new everydayness toemerge in the pedagogical meeting
  • 4. Transformations in the digitalTopics as students objects of study : daily life; myths; recycling; animal rights;social networking, cyber bullying Digital stories enable students perspective of the object of study tobecome visible. During the process of making, the stories are liftedfrom the original context and change. Their changes aretransformations and belong to two general categories : spatial (where the location or the size changes e.g., remixing,subtitling etc) & temporal (digital artifact rewind, fast forward, freeze imagesetc) . The changes are also transformations of the content of the DSexperience overall Transformations of digital artifacts, of the learning and the teachingexperience enable multiple interpretations of the objects of study,of the story-making process and, eventually, of the worldDigital stories, therefore, are artifacts of polysemy (polysemic); assuch, digital stories advance the human lexicon
  • 5. Digital Stories as Wings for ImaginationA new definition is shaped out of study insights and preliminaryanalysis of teachers narratives DS-telling is a process of making a narrative. Thosestories, therefore, that are the results of the process ofnarrative-making & are mediated by mobile andvideo technologies are digital stories. In fact, digital stories are any technology-enhancednarrative production that makes visible thestorytellers cognitive schemes. These emerge out of the tellers life events and canbe fictional and/or nonfictional.
  • 6. We use the DS experience and teachers narratives to build our definition : Kids like fairy tales because this is how their imagination ismobilized. And this is where the success of this whole venture lies;in the inherent need to each and every human being, either totell a story or to listen to one. This is the deepest motive, this is whythe kids were actively engaged. (GR, 3rd grade) it was ordinary in a certain sense... but in another it was notordinary or maybe it was somehow advanced; (but) that innermotivation to do this was so great. You didnt have to push much.And it went fast. (FI, 5th grade) They very much enjoyed the video of the 4 girls driving at school.They thought it was very funny. This possibly liberated them andgenerated ideas. Then they put forward the idea to shoot a clip ofthe field next to the school because they can play there. (GR, 3rdgrade)
  • 7. Teachers narratives in the studyNarratives represent the personally experienced storiesThe study aim is to explain these stories by making themeanings of the teachers lived experiences visible.To meet this end we need to clarify the significance ofthe digital storytelling-related events. These relate to thestories as artifacts and the process of their making.Being expressions of the different in the normal courseof everydayness, the storytelling events shape ourperspective of the study and the research questions.
  • 8. Set of evolving research questionsDoes digital storytelling as experience of thedifferent signal the dawning of a neweverydayness in schools ?If yes, in what ways is this manifested ?In what ways is a digitally-enhanced learningspace transformative ?What essential structures of digital storytellingbecome visible in teachers narratives?
  • 9. Research background & task In this study our insights from field notes, observations andinterviews shape our view of storytelling as an international,collaboratively creative experience enhanced by the digital. The study is qualitative and examines the experiences of theintegration of digital storytelling into the pedagogical meeting.For integration the Mobile Video Experience platform (MoViE)was used as a virtual space in the Boundless Classroom-Digital Storytelling FINNABLE 2020 project. Pedagogicalactivities occurred across three countries between Octoberand December 2012. For thematic analysis, we use the narratives of teachers thatresult from semi-structured interviews. In order to reveal themeaning structures we apply a phenomenological approach.
  • 10. Research participants & methods3 countries : California, Finland, Greece39 teachers; 19 schools; 26 classroomsContextual & follow-up questionnairesField notes & observationsSemi-structured interviews of teachersFocus groups of studentsCoding, thematic analysis
  • 11. Teachers stories as interviewsTeachers give accounts of the DS experience in theirspeech. Through these accounts the teachers lifeevents are made public. The interpretation of thelived experience gives sense to the behavior ofteachers, students, colleagues and parents duringthe DS process.
  • 12. Preliminary analysis & emergent themesLiberating imagination, space for creativity, experience of change Another (dimension) is that we broke away from the 4 walls of theclassroom, visited Palo Alto, travelled to Finland, flipped aroundthe map, watched several teasers. We realized that children inother countries are like us, they are not alien. And this wholeexperience enables them to shape the global picture of theworld. in this way, by being in the network and through thecollaboration with other schools in different corners of the planetthey expand their horizons. (GR, Teacher, 3rd grade) That was, when they were getting to the very, very end andmaking mash-ups, was very liberating I think for some of them. Itwas very creative to make, make a new thing out of previouslyexisting things... (CA, Teacher, Class Year 5)The analysis is inductive and still in progress. Mainthemes that emerge out of the experience are :
  • 13. Alternative avenues and pathways ofcommunication;Learning spaces that mobilize curiosity & explorationTeachers becoming less authoritative; sharingcontrol; students taking-on responsibilities A dialogical, collaborative space emerges Of inclusiveness; where horizons are expandedLearning at school is fun & meaningful experienceParticipation : Learning to be an active citizenKey experiences of democracy, equity &communitarian spirit in the classroomThe human element exceeds the technological inimportance
  • 14. Meanings of inclusion & expansive horizons S. was another interesting case because he found space andopportunity to deal with the difficulty in linguistic expression. You see,his parents are immigrants. He had to do an upload. When hefinished, he came back to the classroom smiling. His team did notactively engage in filming but at this point they are the ones whotake on active role. To him, DS was the chance to engage insomething different. (GR, Teacher, 3rd grade) Theres an element of public speaking, an element of presentationthat I want them to get of it. And I also want them to broaden theirperspective on whats available in the world and how different kidslearn and how different kids live and to have a better sense ofgeography. (CA, Teacher, Class Year 5) Case of student with special needs in GR, Grade 6
  • 15. Pedagogical meeting re-visitedEmergent themes reflect the essential structures of the newphenomenon :DS-telling adds to the polysemy and richness of thelearning experience and re-defines theeverydayness of the learning space.A number of transformations occur: of the digitalartifact, the learning experience, the teachingexperience. Emergent themes correlate withchanges in learning and teaching.The analysis of teachers narratives captures theirevolving sense of professionalism, i.e., an enhancednatural attitude of school teachers
  • 16. Building a new sense of professionalism or the dawn of a new day in schools by allowing space for :Participative content creation;Curriculum reshape by teachers and students; basedupon students preferences and leading multipleinterpretations of the object of study and, thus, of theworld;Enhanced understanding of the global;Student articulation of own voice by teacher sharingcontrol and creating space for responsibility take-on;allowing imagination to fly; creativity & collaborationto occur; international bonds and community toestablish.
  • 17. Wrapping up the experienceThe preliminary analysis and findings of the study show that DS-telling is ameaning making process that can naturally be embedded in theeverydayness of the classroom. As with every other innovation, the wavesof change cause a sense of disorder of what is normal course of thepedagogical meeting. However, the change does not seem to be ananomaly; on the contrary, the transformative learning space that emergescounterbalances the disruptive effect. Importantly enough, the overallexperience echoes a utopian rather than dystopian view of technology:one that strengthens the argument of the Internet as humanright; the same way that education is human right;and underscores the need for policies that eradicate thedigital divide and enable access to knowledge andadvancement to all and for all.
  • 18. Mari@nna Vivitsoumarianna.vivitsou@helsinki.fiThank You for Your Attention! J


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