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Tag: digital storytelling

Creating Stories in DX

The following tutorial steps students through setting up a Story for a specific class in DX. Stories can only be set up by students and shared within your class. Sharing can be between you and the student, the student and selected students or between the student and the entire class. Content that can be shared using a story includes text, images, video, audio and other files linked from OneDrive.

How can I use DX Stories in my class?

  • Stories can be useful when established as a journal, updated regularly by the student.
  • They can be used as a way to collect and share ideas with the class.
  • They can be used as way to receive feedback from the class when making decisions about a topic for further investigation.
  • Digital storytelling

GarageBand – Podcasts

This tutorial will step you through recording your voice, using GarageBand, and adding loops for background music and sound effects.

How can I integrate Podcasts in the Classroom?

Here are some specific ideas for integrating audio recording into your curriculum:

  • Students interview relatives about their life stories, and then combine the audio interview with family photos in a video project.
  • Students write a radio drama based on a historical event and incorporate sound effects and music to enhance the story.
  • Learn about different provinces in China  by interviewing locals. Record the interview and then create a digital album showcasing that province.
  • Students create an advertising campaign to highlight a current event in a persuasive manner.
  • Write and record short stories and add music and sound effects.
  • Teacher records a tutorial that students listen to on their own – share via DX and invite students to reflect on their learning in a discussion forum.
  • Present a piece of writing as a class radio drama or a poetry slam.
  • Teacher records and broadcasts group discussions – share with other classes discussing similar topics.
  • Teachers might record students reading a story as a fluency assessment, or as a foreign language pronunciation activity. Students listen to their recording and self assess.
  • On a field trip, students use an iPhone or iPad with voice recorder app to take notes and photos. They then create a guided tour using iMovie.

Video Basics: Story, Framing, Lighting and Sound


Story is KING! Without a story your video is just unrelated pretty pictures. All videos have to have some kind of story or theme that holds it together. Without a compelling story everything else in this post doesn’t matter.

Framing: Basic Shot Composition

Photographers and videographers refer to the Rule of Thirds as a cornerstone of taking good shots. Put simply, don’t place the subject of your photo directly in the middle of the frame. Have them one third into your frame from either side. Watch the video below for more info.


Lighting will make or break a shot. There are two parts to great lighting. The first is to make sure your subject is well light. If you’re videoing people make sure their faces are well lit. This can be as easy as filming near a window or outside.

Once you’ve made sure your scene is well lit, think about using light for dramatic effect. Videographers and photographers talk about the golden hour. The golden hour is the first hour of daylight right around sunrise and the last hour right around sunset. Golden hour gives your shots a warm colour.

This video gives more detailed ideas for shooting at the golden hour.

Sound: Capturing Audio

Make sure you capture the best sound possible. People will watch less than perfect video but poor audio quality will have them clicking on to something else to watch very quickly. Here are some tips to ensure you capture good audio.

Film in a quiet place where you can control background noises. When you get to your filming location, stop and listen. Listen for noisy fans, humming refrigerators or barking dogs. If your location is noisy fix it.

Have your microphone up close to your talent. This may mean using a mic on a boom pole but it can be much simpler than that. It may be as simple as getting your camera closer to your subject. I once stuck my iPhone in my actor’s shirt pocket and used the Voice Memos App to record the audio as I filmed. It was a back up to a fancier audio recorder I was using. As it turned out the batteries in my audio recorder died so I used my iPhone’s audio for the last few minutes of the video. Nobody noticed.

If you want to learn more about capturing audio the Vimeo Video School Blog has lots of resources including Sound good, feel good: things to consider when capturing audio. It is good  for anyone wanting to do a deep dive into capturing audio for videos.

Sound: Background Music

Background music can be great but be purposeful when you use it. Your favorite song may not be the best music for your video.

Instrumental songs—songs without lyrics—are usually best because the brain can’t multitask. If people in your video are talking while there’s a song with lyrics playing in the background, the viewer’s brain tries to listen to both sets of words and it can’t. At least it can’t do it well. Scientifically, this is known as cognitive load.

So use music without lyrics but that’s not enough. It’s important that the volume of the background music is kept much lower than the actors speaking in your video. iMovie has a cool feature that lets you automatically drop the audio levels of the background music. It’s pretty handy. Use it but also check that it’s done it right by listening carefully to your entire movie. You may find that you have to make some further adjustments.

If you’re looking for more audio ideas Vid Authority has some more in depth tips for using background music in videos.

There you have it—Story, Shot Composition, Lighting and Sound. Control each of these elements and you’ll be on your way to your first Oscar!

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is a very broad topic so I’ll focus on two types–the Common Craft style and stop motion animation. Common Craft is a company that explains complex topics using a combination of stick figures and simple drawings. Libraries in the Internet Age is a good example of their work. You can head over to their website for more examples.

Another good example of this style of video is Casey Neistat’s Draw My Life.


Stop Motion animation is based on the idea that you string a number of still photos together in software like iMovie and then have them play back in sequence. This video from Mashable gives a quick explanation.

There are a lot more videos that explain stop motion. Here’s one that shows how to make a lego movie and another more general tutorial from Sony.


You don’t need much. Here are the basics:

  • camera: a camera phone is fine.
  • tripod or stabilisation system. Your camera needs to be rock solid. (We have various tripods/tools available in the EdTech Office if you need some help with this.)
  • editing software to put it all together i.e. iMovie
  • good light: You don’t need to get too fancy here but you do want to control your light. Work near a window. Use a desk lamp. Do what it takes to make it consistent.

iPhone or iPad Apps

There are some apps that can streamline the process. iMotion and Stop Motion are both free and can help get the job done.

Things to Remember

  • Have a script. Write down exactly what you want to say and then animate to that. It helps to mark in your script what will be happening in the animation. Pages or Word work fine for simple projects. Celtx is a good free option for scriptwriting for more complex projects. You can learn more about scriptwriting from this post I wrote earlier.
  • Storyboarding is a great way to organise your ideas. Here’s a simple template from Pens to Lens.
  • You don’t need to use a fancy camera but it needs to be held perfectly still. In other words, use a tripod.
  • When doing stop motion you need lots of photos. The more frames per second you use, the smoother your video will be.
  • You don’t need fancy editing software. iMovie will work. Some programs may make it quicker or easier to make a stop motion video but they aren’t absolutely necessary.
  • Get good audio. When recording audio work in a quiet place. Background noise is very distracting to an audience.

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