Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bad Guitar Players and Bigger Amplifiers

During our last cluster share at Sunnybrae Normal, Stephen demonstrated his use of the Visual Portrait of Story (VPS). I wanted to expand a little on the source of the VPS and its relevance.

I attended a digital storytelling workshop with Jason Ohler in 2005 and something he said about technology has stuck with me ever since. "Technology can be like giving a bad guitar player a bigger amplifier" (Source: Then What?). Just because we can 'flash up' a presentation with animated graphics and sound, this does not automatically improve the learning, quality of the content or message we are attempting to communicate. Jason also discusses this concept in his article, Art becomes the Fourth R (recommended reading), stressing the importance of the teacher's role. Jason writes...

"... although multimedia can act as an assistive technology, it cannot take the place of vision, talent, or skill, whether developed or inherited. We will always need to tell a story with our art and to tell it with honesty, depth, and detail if it is to survive as more than a transient, disconnected thought. For this reason, teachers will become more important as technology increases in power. More than ever, students will need teachers for their wisdom and knowledge to help navigate a purposeful path through the glitz and distraction".

So within the context of digital story telling, Jason introduced us to the VPS. In short, this was added in to the traditional story planning process, after coming up with the idea but before storyboarding or outlining the script. Since then I have used the VPS with students for digital story telling presented through a variety of software from iMovie and PhotoStory to ComicLife and animation. Key to the VPS is that it supports the necessity of a good story to include the main character experiencing some kind of transformation. If you look at the VPS and match a well know story to it you will see what I mean. After using a similar strategy with students, I give them a hard copy to draw on and 'plan the pitch' for their story, the VPS has become a crucial step in pre-production, however its impact can be evident throughout the production process.

Below is an example of a well know story applied to the VPS.

If you are interested in reading more I have posted a copy of the VPS and links on the wiki. I would like to thank Jason Ohler for providing me with one of my 'Aha'! moments.
Also as I was locating the links to Jason's articles for this post I noticed he is a Keynote speaker for TUANZ 2008 ...see you there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

No need to wade through Google searches!

Access to quality digital resources for NZ schools are available without having to spend valuable time wading through Google.

I have had a few requests lately for support accessing digiSTORE, which includes the Learning Objects, that can also be accessed through NZMaths. If you have not discovered digiSTORE I would recommend you invest some time to register your school and start to explore the valuable resources that are available to support learning.

There are over 1200 Learning Objects and Resources Assets available to NZ schools through digiSTORE which can be utilised in a variety of motivating and exciting ways to add value to student learning.

For further support and information on registering click through to my eResources page. This page also has information about how to access other quality digital resources.

Below is a brief slideshow that introduces digiSTORE and explains the difference between Learning Objects and Resources Assets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


With the increase in the use of online tools and environments for sharing and exploring new learning with students online, safety is a priority. We discussed this briefly at our last cluster share at Sunnybrae Normal and I have emailed support information available to NZ schools trough to Principals and Lead Teachers.

Also the Time4Online Conference includes a presentation Keeping Safe Online, with valuable information from NetSafe and the Internet Safety Group.

NetSafe Links on my

Friday, June 1, 2007

Student Voice

One of the workshops currently available on the Time4 Online Conference features student's talking about their learning and use of a variety of technologies. The confidence with which these students talk is pronounced and I believe the inclusion of student voice in the conference is important.

I am posting this specifically as Rachel Boyd and her class of 6/7 year olds feature here. I have enjoyed reading Rachel's blog and have recommended her students' blog to teachers in our cluster who are beginning to explore the potential of these web 2.0 tools to add value to student learning.

Go directly to Rachel's presentation online here.