My daughter brought home a “foldable” filled with notes on mathematical thinkers, perfect content for a Photostory slideshow. I put her to work, assisting me in preparing for my first Digital Storytelling workshop.
We found Photostory, free software from Microsoft, very easy to use. The program leads you through the steps of creating a digital story. Recording a separate audio file for each slide worked great. Customizing the motion and adding text was easy. The provided music options are a great time saver for those not wanting to find and import music. If you can’t find any tunes to your liking, you can import you own music. The trickest part was creating title and credits slides, since the program doesn’t provide options for creating such a slide. We used PowerPoint to create a credit slide, saving it as a jpg. We then imported this jpg into Photostory, just like we did all the other images.
We uploaded the production to Archive.org, because it is free and not blocked by the school’s filter. Then I used the Embed Media button in Edublogs to embed the production in this blog post. If you intend to embed the production in a blog post, be sure to click the Settings button during the Save Your Story step of Photostory, and choose “Profile for computer -1 (320×240).” The default setting is too large.
During Spring Break, my family traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit my husband’s sister and her family. We enjoyed touring the city’s World Aquarium. My daughter’s “assignment” was to select one animal from the aquarium to bring home to Missouri. She had to choose an animal based on its ability to survive in our habitat, as opposed to one she liked. No, the animals aren’t available for checkout. I was just once again using her as a guinea pig while preparing for my first digital storytelling workshop. Another part of her inquiry lesson was to collect video footage and provide narration. Below is our first digital story. Click the big triangle play button to stream the video, or right-click on the Download link and choose “Save target as” or “Save link as” to download the video.
The technicalities: Using Windows Movie Maker, we captured and cut the video. Then imported some images from our digital camera, and a few downloaded public domain images. After recording the narration, I added in some creative commons licensed music. The title and transition features polished off the project. Then I saved the project as “video for broadband (340 kbps)” in a Windows Media Video (wmv) format. I uploaded the wmv file to archive.org, where it was automatically converted into other formats and various file sizes (flash, mpeg4). I chose archive.org because it is free, and not blocked by our District’s filter. The flash version was the fastest to load, but too blocky for my daughter’s standards. The wmv file is the best quality, but a large file (better to download and not stream). It is the one I used for this blog post. But I’m guessing since this is a wmv file, it won’t play on all computers. Next we will publish a Voicethread version, and a then Photostory version. Please leave your recommendations, comments, or suggestions.