Maria Sammons and Sophia Banu Ali of Iqra Educare describe their centre’s experiences as part of a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative-funded research project.
Digital technology has been a part of our everyday life whether at work or home. Using digital technology to communicate through storytelling can be fascinating for the younger generation. Digital storytelling revolves around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of digital multimedia such as the use of audios, images and videos.
We found the idea of digital storytelling to be fascinating as it was a novel concept for the majority of teachers. As a naturally shy person, I thought the idea of digital storytelling was amazing. I knew that WeVideo would allow me to incorporate my creativity and design skills in an engaging manner. The learning process included following a few steps, which included initial scriptwriting and planning, the addition of photos and diagrams and the final step being voice recording. The editing of the videos was required as the initial experience with WeVideo was a learning experience – challenging yet rewarding. Hence, I edited the videos a few times in order to practise my newly developed digital skills and create a video that would convey my story and reflections to encourage the reciprocal sharing with other teachers, parents/caregivers and whānau.
How was the experience? A teacher’s reflection
The learning and developmental process of digital storytelling via WeVideo was challenging initially, but over time and with practice, we found it to be fun and rewarding to see the results. The process of collecting images, having group meetings and discussing our ideas in order to incorporate them in the WeVideo was a good opportunity to reflect on our ideas and learn further from and about each other. Initially, it was strange hearing my own recorded voice. However, this also enabled me to practise my speech skills and to pause between sentences. The voice-control options of WeVideo was another way of managing voice-overs for the storytelling. Creating an artifact like a digital story enabled me to not only reflect deeply on my teaching and life experiences but also understand how and why those experiences matter. This was the result of having reflected on my experiences after producing my WeVideo for the project on belonging. Further, it helped me to learn new ways of connecting and communicating effectively with audiences – skills that are vital in all kinds of circumstances in this day and age.
Impact of sharing our WeVideo digital stories
Telling our stories on WeVideo enabled us to receive empathy and care from our audience. This provided us with comfort and calmness. Questions we received from our preschool whānau as they watched our videos at Ladies’ Night helped us gain new insights, self-understanding and emotional growth. This type of social feedback led to retrospection and recollection of our lives. It allowed us to make peace with our lives.
Sharing WeVideo stories also created connectedness amongst our colleagues. It strengthened our emotional ties by letting our team know our real self. It made us all comfortable sharing ourselves with one another. In other words, we had portrayed to others that we trust them by letting them know about our life. This promoted a sense of care, empathy and intimacy. It also made us realise that life is full of adversities and they are a universal phenomenon, and our stories are one of the innumerable life-like stories. It instilled in us a deeper appreciation of our life journeys.
One of the most visual and measurable changes for the children has been their confidence level growing. Having that bravery to step forward and have a go and be seen has been wonderful.Maria Sammons, educator at Iqra Educare
How will this benefit children
This is the beginning of our journey around digital storytelling. As reflective educators, we are willing to incorporate this style of storytelling in our everyday practice. Polanyi (1985) stated that storytelling is “fundamental to human understanding and social connection”. Hence, applying it in our centre would be of great educational benefit. One of our next projects is to create children’s stories via digital storytelling. We believe this will be very beneficial to children’s learning as it applies both sounds and visuals. Unlike traditional PowerPoints, WeVideo enables a more interactive style of storytelling. We believe that digital storytelling can exponentially transform the classroom experience as it can be of great benefit in enabling visual literacy and critical thinking. In addition, for me as an educator, digital storytelling allows me to develop better writing and research skills and open up more opportunities for collaboration with other staff.
Children will get to know their teachers better. Children know us as professional individuals, as their kaiako. However, seeing our life story will give them a different perspective, a rounded view of our life. They will have an opportunity to see our heritage, our land, our people. Some of them may even be able to relate our story to their own life story, to their similar families, to their struggles, to their achievements. It will foster in them a deeper sense of belonging to the whole preschool environment.
Our children are quite keen about storytelling and drama at the moment. Enacting stories and capturing it on WeVideo would be a great tool for dramatic literature! The voice-overs and music in WeVideo App are quite intriguing and engaging. It will surely fascinate our tamariki who have various levels of interests.
The other teacher projects involved in this research give a rich array of insights, strategies and tools that will inspire and generate ideas for teachers.
- Constructing pathways to belonging in early childhood education (Linda Mitchell)
- Forming connections between identity and place (Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten)
- Belonging through transition – transition into, through and beyond kindergarten (Crawshaw Kindergarten)
- Belonging through storytelling (Hillcrest Kindergarten)
- Belonging through cuisine – an extraordinary food experience (Carol White Family Centre)
- Belonging through role-play in early childhood (Iqra Educare).
Iqra Educare teachers use WeVideo, a cloud-based multimedia creation platform.
Polanyi, L. (1985). Telling the American story: A structural and cultural analysis of conversational storytelling. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), 220-228. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405840802153916
This article was written by Maria Sammons and Sophia Banu Ali, Iqra Educare, as part of a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative-funded research project Strengthening belonging and identity of refugee and immigrant children through early childhood education.