Digital Pedagogy – Storytelling While Studying Abroad

Below is the lead in to the discussion on Digital Pedagogy:

“The Modern Language Association recently published Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments,  (Links to an external site.)“a curated collection of reusable and remixable pedagogical artifacts.” The collection includes entries for a few dozen key terms related to digital pedagogy, most of which are relevant to teachers and researchers across the spectrum, not just in the humanities.” (From the Assignments Section – Blog 4: Digital Pedagogy).

From clicking the link, there were three terms that really caught my eye and interest: Storytelling, Project Management, and Gender. While I was originally going to discuss Project Management because I felt it connected well with my previous writings on Project Based Learning, I am instead going to discuss Storytelling as it made me think of a recent conversation I had with one of the Associate Deans for Academic Programs. (NOTE – this idea hit me before I scrolled down and saw there was an image about the topic).

I ran into this Associate Dean the other day and noticed the annoyance on her face. She had just come out of a meeting where they were trying to push for study abroad programs. She told me, “I don’t have an issue with study abroad programs, in fact I agree we should be encouraging more, but I want them to be more of an impactful experience, and not just a vacation as some of them tend to be.” I responded by telling her that my husband and I have often talked about running a study abroad program in his home country, with a similar structure to what I had done in college. She asked me to explain, and it turns out, I was telling her the “storytelling” approach.

Our thought was that we would bring students to Guyana and in the very first week, sit them down with their assignments. They would intern/work for an organization 3 – 4 days a week, and volunteer at a separate location (of their choosing or from a list provided, ie an orphanage, community center, zoo, etc) one day a week. In the beginning we would do something like those reality shows, film each individual (and then as a group) about their hopes and expectations for the study abroad experience, both on a professional and personal level. Throughout the course, they would have to write (or do a personal video on cellphones or with supplies) a weekly digital journal (they could choose to make it public like a blog, or keep it private, only allowing the instructors to review) where they would discuss not just what they did, but about feelings – how frustrating is it to work in a team? How incredibly fulfilling it is to play with kids at the school? Complaining about constantly working in the heat or being made fun of for having a different accent?   Periodically, throughout the semester, more check ins with formal videos would be done to encourage discussions (instructors would ask specific questions), that could be done individually or in groups. The week before the semester would end, we would do a final video of their experience and what they thought of the experience. The final week would be working with the students to clip these videos and snippets of the journals into a mini-movie as a final assignment and keepsake.

Now, when I did something like this, I had to do it on paper, and fortunately, I was very descriptive in my what I wrote. To keep up with the times, and recognizing that working and volunteering is going to keep people very busy, offering a digital component taps into the technology generation and makes the experience more interesting than just writing a paper. Working with students to combine their work into something bigger, offers the opportunity to learn new software as well as encourage them to think creatively about how they want to tell their story.

Some challenges – assuming people will actually share their personal thoughts/feelings. Assuming they have the technology to implement this, which means making sure as a course, that I have the money to fund the video equipment necessary to make this work. Power and Internet will be key – particularly in a country where those two things go out often. I’m sure there are more, but these are the big ones that stood out!

3 Replies to “Digital Pedagogy – Storytelling While Studying Abroad”

  1. Thank you for sharing your practical pedagogical artifact. The idea of using video journaling not only develop entrepreneurship skills but also expand students’ film production knowledge.
    Academic journaling will help students sharing their personal thoughts/feelings in a professional and systematic way.
    Do you think the curriculum can employ more digital storytelling techniques, such as augmented reality?

  2. This sounds like an amazing experience! I agree that it is important that study abroad programs remain focused on the education-side first. Not to say that participants shouldn’t also have fun though. I like the idea of video journaling – that sounds highly relevant, though I personally hate watching/listening to myself haha!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like you were able to take a lot away from this interaction. I agree with you about the challenges of implementation not only limited by the users but by funds and accessibility as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *