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Education and the Use of Digital Storytelling with iPads

Writing and reading stories is an important part of one’s education. With iPads in the classroom, digital storytelling is thoroughly ingrained in modern teaching methods. The digital aspect of storytelling raises the art to a new level of experience. The emergence of technology and digital media has resulted in some significant departures from the traditional role of storytelling in education:

Stories have become media-rich experiences. Billions of mobile devices are in the hands of people worldwide, and an ever-increasing percentage of those devices contain video cameras, still cameras, and microphones.

Whenever anything of personal significance happens, it can be captured and chronicled in digital media that is edited, processed, and published. Within minutes, that moment is available to friends and family around the world. Media has become the language of today.

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Reading and writing remain crucial educational components. However, if you want to prepare students for life in 21st-century society, it’s essential to help them develop and use a broad range of communication skills. Schools have begun to recognize the importance of multimedia use in education. Fortunately, with its built-in microphone, camera, and a host of multimedia apps, the iPad is an extraordinary tool for creating and integrating multimedia into education.

When you think of storytelling from a traditional perspective, you might conjure up any of these images:

  • Danny Kaye telling a story to a group of children seated on the ground. (If you don’t know who Danny Kaye is, look up the movie Hans Christian Andersen.)

  • A kindergarten teacher reading a book to a group of young students.

  • A parent reading a bedtime story to a child.

The common thread is the clarity of role definition: The adult tells the story, and the child listens; the teacher imparts knowledge, and the students listen and learn. (That’s the theory, anyway.) All those images show a clear relationship between adult and child, expert and learner, craftsman and apprentice.

But in the information age, technology is expanding knowledge at accelerating rates. Passively absorbing information that is then regurgitated can’t pass for learning any longer in the information age. Students must develop the skills necessary to constantly learn by searching for, interpreting, and analyzing information, and then applying what they’ve learned to real-world problems throughout life.

Students are becoming producers of knowledge: digital storytellers who use technology to express themselves. And it’s a role that’s become an integral part of their lives outside school. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more. . . technology has turned everyone into a story producer in one form or another.

Students traditionally produced a product for an audience of one: their teacher. Thanks to the Internet and the power of social networking, those digital stories can now be shared worldwide in an instant. Producers of a digital story today can communicate with people and communities anywhere around the globe through the power of a device — such as an iPad — that they hold in their hands.

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