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Digital Storytelling

Jason Wirtz (Curriculum & Teaching/English)

In his experience teaching courses ranging from freshman composition to graduate writing to teaching courses, Jason Wirtz has found that digital storytelling consistently engages students at a high level. Digital storytelling is a movie-making project in which students weave together a rich variety of media including text, image, film, and audio. As part of his FITT project, Professor Wirtz implemented a digital storytelling project in an English 120 course.

Professor Wirtz guided English 120 students in the creation of digital poems integrating text, imagery, and music, initially sharing a sample project that he had created. Professor Wirtz then introduced students to the basics of iMovie and to the file conversion web site Zamzar, but students were encouraged to use the computer program of their choice to compose and edit their media projects. Most students chose to use iMovie or MovieMaker.  Students shared their work during in-class screenings and offered each other feedback. They also wrote papers that explored and explained the choices they made while creating their digital poem. In the instructions for the assignment, Professor Wirtz asked students to consider discussing their work in terms of sound, text, images, video, pacing and transitions.  He also asked them to draw connections between the digital poetry project and essays they wrote for the course.

Professor Wirtz has found that students become very engaged in their digital storytelling projects, showing up early to work on them and staying late, not even realizing that class time has ended. Professor Wirtz intends to extend this project to his other courses in the English and Curriculum and Teaching departments.