The best tool for Storytelling or Digital Storytelling

The equivalent to the Google classroom is the Adobe classroom. Later this month, Adobe offers a class ‘called Explanimation.’ An awkward word coined to describe animation to explain, or tell a story.

Too often however, Storytelling is linked to software. From iMovie, to Glogster; from Visme and Animoto to Audacity among many others. Humans told stories around campfires before most technologies were invented. So tools like these should not become a crutch.

Storytelling –be it digital or analog– requires being able to describe something succinctly. Long before firing up the software the ‘story’ needs a structure and focus. There’s the tried and tested Beginning, Middle, and End. Or the Introduction, Conflict, and Denouement, if you will.

Students are natural born storytellers, but they often freeze up when it’s time to sketch things out. The best technology for this? Something invented in the same year that Shakespeare was born – the pencil!

WebEx and that ‘ground control’ feeling

I’ve used several Web conference platforms over the past five years, and many of them have had their good, bad and clunky sides. From Skype and WebEx and Adobe, to those with particularly odd names, such as Oovoo and DimDim. I recently used Join.Me when working on my book, Chat Republic, and its screen-share option was stunningly simple.

But today, for a project involving NASA, and my school, we connected 27 classrooms via WebEx, and I have to say it was one of the most relaxes web chats I’ve ever had. I was nervous, because so much was at stake.

Some 425 children were all agog about being able to ‘Talk to an Astronaut’ who happened to be not just any astronaut, but the first Native American in Space, Commander John Herrington.

Students would step up to the phone (we were dialing in on plain-old-telephones to make sure the line was stable; no wireless gizmos!) and ask their questions, and could see Commander Herrington break into a smile and respond. More about that event here.

I was really impressed with the WebEx platform. It may not have the look and feel as, say Adobe, but it does the job by keeping things simple.

Sure, astronauts deal with instrument dashboards that you and I will probably never come into contact with, but for the rest of us –non rocket-scientists– the simple interface works. Especially when all we want to do is chat, just like we were in the same room.