Back from Australia…

I’m suffering a bit from the effects of winging to Melbourne and back for a weekend, but was it ever worth it. I met people doing truly inspiring work with digital stories and communities, and had the pleasure of presenting on digital stories the first day, and then on a blogging panel with Adrian Miles and Jean Burgess, both of whom have done significant research and presenting in the field. Reflections about their presentations, my own and the conference in general will find their way here over the next few days, but right now I am busy pulling up spring course blogs and catching up on the million things I missed in a week.
(I mean, leave the country for a second and all kinds of things happen in the edublogosphere, such as Will Richardson quitting his job!).

For now, I am posting the text version of my first talk, “Digital Storytelling and HIgher Education: Context, Community and Imagination.” I’ll post the audio version soon, too, and then the vodcast.

First Person: International Digital Storytelling Conference Melbourne, Australia, Feb 3-5, 2006

Saturday, February 4 Panel—Storytelling and the Digital Generation

(My presentation consisted of a twenty-minute digital story running behind me–at least the images and soundtrack, did. I was the voiceover, in real-time, in person.)

Introduction (Before the digital story kicks in):

I’m about to experiment here with a digital story of sorts as presentation—some of the examples you will see are excerpts from longer works. I’d like to thank my students for sharing their work. (If you are reading this text without watching the visuals, know that there are stretches of silent voiceover when the visuals and soundtrack tell the story without my voice. I place in bold font where significant slides and excerpts from my students’ digital stories fall. –I hope this makes some sense!)

I teach in a well-known liberal arts college (a small university) in the U.S., a school known for its writing, languages and international programs. Its students go on to hold prominent positions in government and the professions, though many graduates go on in nonprofit work. This is not the first place people think of in terms of digital storytelling as social activism, or groundbreaking work with communities. And yet it is precisely the kind of place where we also need digital storytelling—to open this generation to the relationship between personal context, imagination and civic responsibility in order to combat the racism, social and economic injustice that John O’Neal and Joe Lambert spoke of earlier. It is not enough to work with the communities long without a voice. We must also shift the power dynamic by opening the hearts and minds of those who traditionally have walked into positions of power.

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