Websites we love…

Tom and I are at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, doing a two-day digital storytelling workshop focused on diversity. It’s been a great time and very productive so far, in spite of the beautiful surroundings that one would think might be a bit distracting! We presented quite a few websites to the group that we find ourselves using a lot while making digital stories, so we thought it would be great to archive them here. Wevideo is a “cloud” video editing application. In terms of features and UI it’s in between Imovie and Moviemaker, but the great thing about Wevideo is that, since it exists on the cloud and accessed through a browser, you can use Mac or PC–any computer with a web browser that plays nice with flash. Note that this last fact means you can’t use wevideo on an Ipad. Bad Apple! With the free version of wevideo, you can’t download your completed movie directly, though you can upload it to youtube and then grab it with keepvid, see below. At current count, there’s something like several hundred million images on flickr that are licensed under the Creative Commons regime. Which means, basically, you can use these images for your digital story (there are some restrictions if you’re altering images or making money off your digital storytelling [yeah, right!], though it depends on the specific CC license). Need a photo of a crowing rooster, a certain street in Berlin (in the rain)? You might just find it here.

An even more massive archive can be accessed through From here, in addition to flickr, you can search through google images specifically for CC-licensed material. is another massive repository of cool public domain stuff, including old newsreels that have been digitized. Treasure! is a crowd-sourced sound effects library. Need the call of a Magpie flying from one valley to another in Kyoto in the third week of May? Chances are one of freesound’s volunteer audio soldiers has gone out and captured the sound. All of it is CC-licensed. You can find particular noises but also mixes and ambient recordings of things like city streets, fighting seagulls, etc. is, like freesound, a crowdsourced, CC-licensed library of music. They have a great search page where you can even run searches for instrumental music that would work perfect with your digital story. It leans towards electronica a bit, but there’s a pretty wide variety of styles represented. If you want to do a 70s style B movie, you’re in luck! is a website for ripping youtube videos off their serves and onto your hard drive. This can get dicey legally, but we’re proposing you use them for stuff in the public domain and for your own videos that you uploaded in the first place.

Piknik used to be our online photo editor of choice, but it’s no more. One of our participants today had good luck with You upload your image, tweak away, and then download the edited version. Works great for little things like cropping, rotation, and basic adjustments.


DS Multiplying?

NITLE held a videoconference yesterday on “Digital Scholarship at Liberal Arts Colleges” yesterday via WebEx.  There’s a recording of the proceedings available now.  The presenters were mostly from LACs and several were directors of Centers or other institutional departments oriented toward campus- and curriculum-wide digital networked media production (the focus for the videoconference was of course digital scholarship).

What I found striking was that at least two of the six presenters specifically mentioned DS as a tool their faculty are using to engage students with scholarly questions in different ways: Patrick Rashleigh(@prashleigh) at Wheaton reference DS and study abroad as well as DS as an early tool to help students focus their interests on their way to longer traditional papers; Rob Nelson (@rob___nelson) at the University of Richmond mentioned their DS program run by Ken Warren (@kennethwjr, who several of us just met and were impressed by in our Google Hangout earlier in the week).

With so many people picking up DS and using it in their own situated contexts, we are likely to see more and more innovative uses bubble up.  As I’ve said before, DS is a remarkably flexible set of tools and practices for communicating today, and the variations we’re seeing are direct evidence of that.  This multiplication of practitioners is a good thing — it helps us all grow and deepen our understanding of DS.


The Deconstructed Workshop

Hello everyone.  My name is Nicole Hubbell, and I’m writing from the University of Denver’s Office of International Education (OIE).  We’ve recently begun implementing digital storytelling for study abroad returnees.

First, a quick background:  I became interested in digital storytelling when I heard about it from a colleague who attended the 2010 Forum conference in NC.  Since then, I’ve taken a Standard Workshop from the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) as well as their Facilitator Intensive Training workshop.  I’ve held five workshops at DU modeled after CDS, though in a condensed format—Friday afternoon and all day Saturday rather than a full three days.  The workshops have been successful in that students have all finished stories and had positive feedback about the experience.  The most difficult part, though, has been getting students to attend.  As of now, it’s voluntary, and the day-and-a-half commitment scares them away.

For this reason, I’m trying a different approach to the digital storytelling workshop.  I managed to secure some space in our building that is designated as the Digital Storytelling Workspace, and also purchased some equipment (6 MacBooks, headphones, USB mic, etc.).  I’m offering segments of the workshop on a regular basis so that students can sign up for times that are convenient.  For example, they could come to the 7 Steps Lecture on a Friday from 1-2pm, stay for Story Circle from 2:00-3:30pm, and then come back the next week for open lab hours when they can work on their stories with support from me.  I’m also offering an optional iMovie tutorial for students who aren’t familiar with the software.

I still have the problem of incentive, though we will soon have a mandatory requirement for students to do something when they return, whether it’s write an essay, make a digital story, or some other type of multimedia piece.  My two main concerns in shifting to this new format are losing momentum (the tight deadline at the end of the day will be lost), and also losing that great community spirit that comes out of a workshop.  I’m curious to know what people’s thoughts are on the topic, and if anyone has tried something similar.

For a look at some current student stories, as well as more details on the Workspace, here’s a link to the website:

Thanks for your help!

DSWG: Exploring Multimedia Narrative in the Liberal Arts is a group blog by educators around the country who share expertise and passion in Digital Storytelling, a methodology of creating short video stories rooted in the personal voice of the storyteller. The Digital Storytelling Working Group also provides workshops to teams of educators who want hands-on experience with the methodology. If you’re using Digital Storytelling in higher ed, we want to know what you’re up to. Write us and ask to be a guest contributor, and tell us about your project. No one site or blog can have it all, but we hope this helps Digital Storytelling practitioners around the country share ideas, inspiration and, of course, great stories.