"How to introduce human rights issues and enhance digital skills of low-skilled adults, using digital storytelling" workshop at ALL DIGITAL Summit 2018

How to introduce human rights issue and enhance digital skills of low-skilled adults, using digital storytelling is the workshop held at ALL DIGITAL Summit on October 18th, 2018 in Brussels by Eric Gijssen, freelance media coach and writer of the HURISTO manual, and Bakhta Benzaza, trainer and media coach at Maks vzw. Here we are sharing the workshop materials.

About the expert:

Eric is a media coach and animator from Brussels, Belgium. He was the facilitator of the HURISTO ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in Turin in February 2018. He has been working on media literacy projects since 2000, mainly at Maks vzw in Brussels, but also on projects in Brasil and Nicaragua. Besides coding projects with children and youngsters, ‘Digital Storytelling’ is one of Eric’s preferred methodologies. He is a filmmaker by trade and also obtained his teacher’s training degree. In 2016, Eric was a finalist for Telecentre-Europe Awards (now ALL DIGITAL Awards) in the category ‘Best e-facilitator‘. 

Purpose of the workshop:

In this workshop participants learned about the HURISTO Project methodology by making a very short digital story in iMovie or on iPad. The workshop was addressed to e-facilitators, trainers and teachers looking for new methods of teaching digital skills to engage low skilled learners and make them reflect on certain topics, like human rights issues through digital storytelling as a co-creative approach.

Eric also presented the HURISTO Manual and Photolanguage set produced in the context of the project (see more links below).

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital Storytelling is a very easy technique. Participants can tell personal stories or give their personal point on view on different subjects, by creating a short film made of photos and still images, some sounds and music, titles on the screen and their own narrative voice. Especially that last element is very important. The voice of the narrator is the voice of the maker of the film.

Why use digital storytelling with low-skilled adults?

The digital storytelling technique has a very low threshold. Since the format that is used is so simple, all attention can go to the creation of the story and the personal expression of the maker.

Therefore, this audio-visual technique is very suited for groups that are less literate or have difficulties in reading. The aim of digital storytelling is to use language to express feelings and describe personal experiences. The story can be supported by the use of keywords on the screen. In this way digital storytelling can be used as a language learning activity. Making your voice heard and being able to express yourself is very gratifying for the participants.

How was the workshop organised?

Each participant was given a paper sheet with a word and had to go around to find the person with the same word. Teams of two people were created. They were encouraged to get know each other by sharing a picture on their phone.

After they found the companion they started to work together. They first presented themselves to the team partner by showing a photo on the phone or an object.

The final aim was to create the so-called “Fairy poem”, a poem of 11 words in 5 lines. The word on the last line had to express a feeling or an emotion. The structure of the poem is presented below.

After completing all the lines, they had to choose one image for each line. Images consisted of Dixit cards displayed on a table.

Using the poem and the images, they finally had to create the short video. They registered their voice over the story and some of them added music and sound.

This was a very basic exercise to create a short digital story, but it was very effective to discover the concept and editing software.

Participants were very satisfied with their work and especially those who had never experienced digital storytelling before, said that they felt really inspired for future activities within their organisation.

What did participants gain though the workshop?

Although the exercise was short and basic, participants had the opportunity to understand the concept of digital storytelling and how to use it.

Making digital stories is a way of learning by doing. Throughout the process, participants of a digital storytelling workshop will be able to discover their creativity and other talents.

While working on the films, they help each other and learn together. That makes it a wonderful activity for peer learning.

By making the films – and using their smartphones, tablets or computers in a new and creative way – they acquire a series of 21st century skills, linked to new technologies, solving problems, social skilss... but also to the concept of ‘learning to learn’.

Practically: a digital storytelling project takes between 20 and 30 hours, in several sessions of about 3 hours each. A detailed step-by-step plan can be found in the HURISTO manual (see below).

Digital Storytelling on human rights issues

How to relate the European Human Rights Charter (and other human rights charters) to our own personal life? Sometimes a human right like ‘Respect for private life’ seems very abstract if you don’t even have a house. The ‘Right to an annual holiday’ seems abstract if you don’t even have a job.

Especially when working with adults who cannot read and write very well, reading these charters is quite difficult.

Within the HURISTO project, a ‘Photolanguage Set’ has been produced. This set consists of 30 flashcards. On the front side of each of them, there is a photo of a situation that can be linked to one or several articles of the European Human Rights Charter. On the backside, there is a short title referring to these articles. There is also room left for the group to add their own title to the photo.

Every flashcard has an annex, meant for the educator or workshop leader. It contains more information on the specific articles of the charter and how it may be linked to everyday situations in our lives. It contains some keywords, background information or tips on how to discuss this with the group.

These flashcards are used to evoke storytelling and the sharing of stories within the group. To do so, another tool is also used and is part of the digital storytelling technique: the storycircle. The participants - seated in a circle - start to tell each other stories and experiences, inspired by the photos. This sharing of stories is a form of oral history. In interaction with the group, participants choose and develop the idea for their short film (digital story). This process is also described in detail in the HURISTO manual.

What is it needed (hardware / software / technology)

  • a digital photocamera of even a smartphone or tablet to create or find images
  • an internet connection to search for (free) images, sounds and music
  • a normal laptop or desktop computer (PC) to edit the images
  • with a free editing software like Movie Maker, Photostory or iMovie (alternatives are listed in the manual)
  • a microphone or again a smartphone or tablet itself, for sound recording

How and where to share Digital Storytelling

The result of this process is a short film, in general between 1 and 3 minutes long, that can easily be shared online, for instance on YouTube or Vimeo. These platforms have easy-to-use software to create subtitles too, so the films can be shared between groups of people who don’t have the same maternal language!

What to take into account: privacy and copyright issues

Participants do not have to appear in their films themselves: this makes digital storytelling a technique in which very personal stories can be shared in an anonymous way. The maker can use still images or photos found on internet as well as drawings or photos with objects.

To avoid issues with copyright, participants could only use royalty free images, sounds and music, under a so-called 'creative commons license' (CC). In the manual there is a list of websites where you can find these resources and explications on the CC-concept.

Lessons learned / tips and tricks

Digital storytelling is a wonderful group activity! The first sharing of the stories happens within the group itself and this creates great emancipatory and sometimes even therapeutic effects! Especially when the stories deal with sensitive subjects or even taboos. At the same time participants make great progress in their digital skills by creating the short film. From the first idea until the final editing, they learn to use technology according to their own needs and wishes.

The manual is full of tips and tricks, but we want to pick out one here: the coach never touches the mouse, tablet or computer of a participant. Why not? The aim is that the participants learn to use the equipment themselves and learn to solve their (technical) problems. The educator or coach is there only to support and motivate them.

Where to find more information online / good online resources

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