Posts filed under ‘Conference’


After a fun-filled weekend with the family I have some time to reflect on DS8 last Friday.  Luckily we only got there a couple of minutes late although the M4 was doing one of it’s better impressions of a car park.

After the opening remarks the first speaker was Mandy Rose on “As Media Becomes Social”.  She talked about a lot of different projects that re going on at the moment around social media, many of which sounded very interesting, especially Question Bridge, but I wasn’t sure how much of what she was talking about was really storytelling.  Take Question Bridge – it looks like a fantastic project which I would love to see done with other demographics as well, but the men involved aren’t telling stories, and there is no story created out of the answers to the questions posed.  Here I am using the stricter definition of the term “story” to mean a narrative, rather than the background/wider information on something, but that is really my focus.  Her talk did raise some interesting ideas about crowd sourced stories, but I will come back to that later.

For the first breakout session I chose Rost Thompson’s “Digital Storytelling: Medical Education for the Google Generation”, because I’m quite fascinated by medicine and mental health in particular, which it just so happened was one of her focusses.  The other focus was epilepsy, which, with so much misunderstanding and misleading press about it, has a lot of issues in common with mental health.  This session was fantastic.  There were two aspects: using stories in training doctors and nurses to help personalise all the science they are given to memorise, and stories that can give patients  who have just received a diagnosis some indication of what it is like living with their condition.  This is particualrly relevant as more and more patients are Googling their conditions so doctors are no longer their sole source of information.  There are certainly some issues with patients googling their conditions (there’s a lot of misinformation out there, you only have to look at the conspiracy theories around vaccinations), but that genie isn’t going back in the bottle any time soon.  Also I think the approach that she seemed to be taking, of letting the patients talk about whatever they wanted to talk about was a good one.  For example a patient may choose to talk about their favourite hobby: this is a happy subject for them, shows that they are still capable of doing things, but almost necessarily mention their illness at least peripherally (what they can/can’t do, how they adapt certain things, why they chose that hobby etc).

I could say an awful lot about what I gained from that session, but I think it might have to wait for future posts.  Expect to see a few references back to that.

After lunch (very nice btw.  I approve of conference pizza, though Charlie was not terribly impressed by what they thought constituted a wheat and dairy free meal) Darcy Alexandra spoke about Visual Worlds of Stories.  It was a lovely talk, very emotive and really got me thinking about the more artistic side of digital stories.  I still tend to think of stories as text and not “art” as such, but her talk made me want to try getting a camera out some time…If I still have one…

Unfortunately on the project story side I don’t think a requirement for original visuals are going to be too popular: no one would have the time.  On the other hand the final group talk about 18daysinEgypt was incredibly relevant.  The 18daysinEgypt people have created a tool whereby anyone who was there during the revolution (or now, it is still ongoing) can connect to all the things they posted on social media on a given days and tell their story of that day by pulling it all together.  Video, pictures, tweets, facebook statuses: the lot.  Then they can edit and add text, add how it made them feel and links to articles for further information.  They can even invite collaborators for any given story and collectively edit and enhance the story.  It is an absolutely fabulous tool and something that could so effortlessly generate a project story would be amazing.  Obviously a project story tool would have to be significantly different, btu the concept it brilliant.

The final breakout session of the day I chose was Carlotta Allum on “Stretch Story Box” on taking digital story making into prisons (and it is at this point I notice that every speaker I heard was female…not often that happens).  It seemed like a valuable project for the prisons and prisoners, but by this point the same messages had been reiterated a lot.  Charlie pointed out on the drive back that just about every talk was about minority groups being given a voice to tell their story.  There have got to be other valuable uses of digital storytelling and value in longer stories as well.  Charlie said, “what about a digital novel?” and that has sparked an idea which is going to need some connecting up with other ideas before it will seem even remotely plausible.

With all these ideas floating around, expect more blog posts in the near future.


June 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment


This time next week Charlie and I will be at the DS8 Digital Storytelling Festival.  The programme is now up on their WordPress site and I think I’m going to have trouble choosing between the different breakout sessions that will be going on. Unfortunately we won’t be able to stay for the evening as we will be driving back to sunny Gloucestershire, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of what’s going on in the wider world of digital storytelling a bit more.

June 7, 2013 at 8:35 am 3 comments

Future Learners CETIS event

The Future Learners event on Tuesday run by JISC CETIS and University of Nottingham was fascinating.  It was great to have so many people in such similar spheres in the same room as was made particularly evident as each of the people as they came up to give their lightning talk noted how the scene had been set nicely for what they were about to say.

Not that the lightning talks were particularly similar: there was everything from board games, to conceptual issues around individuals vs the models they are asked to fit in, to specifics about current learner technology projects and thoughts about the potential for the future.  What mostly seemed to become the theme of the day (I think slightly unfortunately) was Open Badges.  Not that I’m not interested, I think they have a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting involved in some badge work soon, but after seeing the scope of what kind of things are going on it was a pity to have so much of the day reduced to just badges.  On the other hand I now have a whole stack of links to look up about all these interesting things.

Open Badges were a big part of the day and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was thinking of them in terms of computer game achievements!  As a World of Warcraft player this kind of approach is definitely familiar (9820 achievement points and counting!) and from experience I definitely know it can make you do things you never would have considered doing before.  I particularly liked the way Doug linked it to hexagonal thinking rather than the purely linear bronze, silver, gold, but I can’t help but wonder if modelling thinking on 2D geometric shapes is a bit limiting.  I think that there were definitely people in the room having trouble breaking their ideas down into small enough chunks to make the badges work: proof that there is a real life application for gathering achievements! (I can dream…)

I have to say I hope there are more of these kind of interest group conferences.  Apparently they used to be relatively common – would be nice to see them take off again.

December 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment