The Online Teacher

The GIF and Digital Storytelling: Look and look again!

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In keeping with the #ETMOOC topic of Digital Storytelling, I have spent a few days experimenting with apps and programs that help to tell a story or share an experience. However, as I start this blog, I find myself lacking digital stories I am able or willing to share. Instead, I am going to share my experience and reflection on working with a few digital storytelling apps and programs.

After last week’s #ETMOOC videos and chat on learning to GIF, I can honestly say the technique did not immediately appeal to me, but I was able to see how a moving section of an image could bring about a deeper level of interpretation, and in fact some very thought-provoking discussion. For example, a GIF by fellow #ETMOOC-ER Margaret Powers (Giving GIFs a Try), of swings moving in an otherwise perfectly still picture, elicited a range of comments and interpretations. One comment by Glenn Hervieux suggested the scene was reminiscent of an earthquake (very relatable to me, living in B.C.), and another comment by Jim Groom suggested the creepy similarity to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb. The GIF certainly caused me to think!

Setting out to experiment and create my own stories, I tried a few ways to make GIFs, including Cinemagram, Moquu, and Picasion. The end result for each was quite different yet very satisfactory. I liked the way I could easily ‘colour’ out the section I wanted to animate using Cinemagram, while the Moquu app allowed me to easily drag and rearrange a series of photos to set up a photo sequence for the GIF, and Picasion allowed for the ability to fine tune work and specify the speed of animation. My one rookie realization was that it is always better to upload photos from your photo library to the app (rather than using the app camera directly). You then have the photos in your photo library in case you delete your project!

Other apps I experimented with (i.e., Animoto, Go Animate, Fotobabble, etc.) were impressively easy to use to create digital stories  (the only app I found frustrating was Visual Poet, as it kept shutting down on me). However, the bigger question I was left wondering was: How many #ETMOOC-ers feel they need ‘more’ after trying out an app? I certainly found myself wishing I had the ‘upgraded’ version for a few apps so I could make my presentations longer or more personalized. I also wonder, how often are students left feeling like they need more?

Ultimately, my take-away from the week was … experiment, get messy, make mistakes, look and re-look, and through it all, make some wonderful digital stories, even if they only get shared with a small audience. With time, this may change. Just like working with technology, sometimes learning in the open takes repeated attempts!


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