the best of qualities is dispassion

Month: September 2016

Digital Story Response No. 5: “Josef”

In my search for a digital story for this week’s critique, I finally realized that digital storytelling has become an important outlet for people who feel the need to share their pain. I encountered so many tragic stories of violence, including war, child abuse, sexual […]

Digital Safety Daily Create: Warning, future of the web.

Soon, web pages may be plastered with advertising like this building.

My Response to “The Use of Digital Storytelling for English Learning”

star-wars-return-jedi-vi-poster_a10501d2“We must teach communication comprehensively in all its forms. Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we all need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.”
~ George Lucas

In “The Use of Digital Storytelling for English Learning: Advantages, Problems, and Solutions” Yun (2013) states that ample studies are not available on digital storytelling (DST) and teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) and yet proceeds to summarize what research is available in order to better understand what has been learned (p. 111). At the time of writing Yun (2013) found only five relevant studies in the Korean domestic database, three of which were conducted with elementary students and two with college students (p. 112). In my research for this course, I have learned that in the three years since the publication of Yun’s paper that there appears to be more valuable research available on this topic, as there is an increasing interest in using DST in teaching EFL. I have already encountered several detailed research papers on teaching EFL through DST in Asia, which is the focus of my research.

In this well-written paper, Yun (2013) organizes her section IV findings and recommendations as, advantages, problems, and solutions. Since Yun’s primary focus is using DST to teach EFL in Korea she subdivides section IV into studies in Korean settings and overseas studies. I appreciate Yun’s logical organization and will focus on the Korean research results since my interest is centered on teaching EFL in Korea. Yun (2013) clearly describes her endeavor with existing research when she writes,  “Based on the reviews of existing studies on the use of digital storytelling for English learning, the issues of practicality, effectiveness, and applicability of digital storytelling will be discussed” (p. 112).

Yun argued that the three primary advantages of integrating DST into language education (as cited in Ohler, 2008) are:

1. Successful DST depends upon traditional writing and the literacies associated with it in the development of scripts, narrative, and other planning instruments.
2. DST integrates traditional and emerging literacies while pursuing content-area learning.
3. DST is, above all, storytelling. As such it has many of the educational benefits of traditional storytelling, as well as some new ones. (p. 45)

Yun (2013) goes on to describe how DST can have the same positive educational results as traditional face-to-face storytelling in the classroom. Yun also explains that DST is a good medium for foreign language literacy as contextualized stories aid in teaching writing, discussion, and presentation skills, a skill which are all too often overlooked in the EFL classroom (110-112).

Yun’s (2013) review of research also found other interesting advantages to DST, (as cited in Kim, 2010) “ …  plasticality and flexibility of story creation, interaction between teller and audience, and community formation through sharing stories.” Further, “  the results show that students gained enhanced confidence and interest in English …” as well as improving their grammar and overall engagement. The immersive environment provided by DST benefited both elementary and college students who participated in the studies.

A lack of interaction between the students and teacher in DST settings was found to be a negative aspect in one experimental study. Yen cites another study conducted by Chang (2006) where digital stories were provided in a business English class, the students’ interest in English learning was enhanced and yet they later complained of animation quality, simple and bland images and typical scripts, which reduced the students’ overall opinion of DST in the EFL classroom. Yen (2013) also cited studies which showed students’ reluctance to participate in DST centered language learning activities, as they were unfamiliar with it, and it differed from the traditional language learning methods that they were accustomed to. Another issue discussed was the fact that DST production is quite time consuming (p. 116).

As Yen (2013) explains instructors must work to familiarize students with digital stories. Prior to deploying DST production in the EFL classroom students should be exposed to digital stories so that they can become familiar with the medium and may not  be so resistant to it (p. 116). Familiarity is key here, as most students are already familiar with the technology required to produce simple digital stories, but may not have encountered them in the formal learning environment. Bridging the gap between traditional language learning and newer digital methods will take time and patience. For learners to get the full benefit of DST they must be encouraged to create “their” digital stories, versus only viewing teacher-made, or commercially produced stories. Teachers must also work DST into existing curriculum and permit time for teacher-student interaction.

In summary Yen (2013) argued that, “ Digital storytelling has many advantages in English learning such as high motivation and interest of the learner, affective immersion and engagement, grammar and lexical learning in the context, enhancement of language skills, especially writing and speaking, learner autonomy, language identity formation, and critical thinking (p. 117).  I’m convinced that DST does indeed belong in the EFL classroom here in Korea, and will, therefore, continue learning how to successfully include it in my curriculum.




Chang, J. T. (2006). The development of on-line ELT content based on digital storytelling.
Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning , 7 (3), 217-239.

Kim, S. J. (2010). The Digital-Storytelling technique and effectiveness reflected on elementary school students’ English comprehensibility. Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics, 10 (2), 299-319.

Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New pathways to literacy, learning,
and creativity . Thousand Oaks: CA, Corwin Press.

Yun, Eunja (2013). The Use of Digital Storytelling for English Learning: Advantages, Problems, and Solutions. English Language Teaching, 25( 1), 103- 119.


Assignment Bank Audio: Do You Hear What I Hear, Walking In Uijongbu Korea

Do You hear What I hear?  Was an audio assignment for my CU Denver Learning With Digital Stories Course. The assignment details: Record glimpses of the different sounds you hear throughout the day, whether it be busy street noises, people talking, birds chirping, etc. and […]

Digital Story Response No. 4: “Nowhere Anyhow”

This short digital story is artfully crafted and presents a girl’s history that must be told over, and over again until we finally hear it and correct the culture which permits it. A culture that all too often strips away a young female’s self-worth and […]

Response to Chapter 2: “Music remix in the classroom” and Chapter 3: “DIY podcasting in education”

With this topic, I’m certainly feeling my age as well as revealing my tastes in music and limited knowledge of pop culture. I’m afraid the remix culture, at least as it exists today, has left me in the dust.  Although I do watch many videos, and since the genre that I most enjoy is documentary, I encountered the documentary RiP!: A Remix Manifesto at some point in my documentary binge-watching.

[FILM] RIP! A Remix Manifesto [480p – best available] from JJ Holst on Vimeo.

Mashups were completely new to me and I was fascinated by the way they are produced. I later reflected on this documentary whenever I heard HipHop or dance mixes. The complex legalities of the art escapes me, although I do lean heavily toward openness and sharing when it comes to artistic expression and the internet. Throughout these readings, I felt the authors struggled with the issue while trying to offer a fair and balanced opinion. Shamburg (2010) wrote the following on podcasting and copyright:

Many potential podcasters are stymied by a fear of unintentionally violating copyright law. Copyright and fair use laws are ambiguous, and media industries—especially in the U.S.—have reacted to the relative ease of creating and sharing digital copies of media in often highly restrictive and punitive ways that can have a chilling effect on amateur new media creators. (p. 56)

As a personal example, I recently produced a short audio podcast for another course where I became confused about copyrights. I was careful to select background music that was copyright and royalty free, music where the producer invited its use and distribution with attribution, and yet, since I decided to read some poems, two of which were copyrighted, I was hesitant to use them. I was uneasy reading them for the recording, although, in the end, I included my readings of their poems. Did I infringe? Was it legal? I’m still not sure and the issue did cause me some concern, especially since I respect the poets and don’t wish to infringe upon their rights. Although I might argue, as many seem to, that using their creations was a sign of my respect for their work.

I believe that a culture that is becoming increasingly motivated by money will in the end hinder free speech, artistic expression, and overall creativity. As I understand it copyrights were originally issued for fourteen years and some now span the artist’s lifetime plus ninety-five years.  This ever expanding copyright protection does not appear to be about protecting the intellectual property of artists, but instead protecting the profits of corporations.

In these readings, I learned about the educational benefits of music remix and how becoming skillful with the technology required to produce mashups and podcasts are required 21st-century skills. The chapters were quite informative when it comes to describing the technologies involved in remixing and serve as a good primer on the subject. Jacobson (2010) introduced me to mixing audio clips using Audacity, which I should be using, as it’s is a free open source digital audio editor (p. 34).

It seems appropriate that if one sides with the free and open internet, as I do, they should use “open source” applications whenever possible. And yet, I already sold out to closed source (proprietary) tools last year when I switched back to a Mac from Ubuntu Linux that I had been using for some years. The production of multimedia for the CU Denver Information Learning Technology MA program drove my capitulation. My idealism was surrendered to my need to “conveniently” produce multimedia “without tinkering” with the tools. Convenience drives many into the arms of the internet giants and also to surrender our privacy to these large corporations. Yes, good open source tools are available, but often require a substantial investment of one’s time to research which are best and then to install and configure them on open source platforms.

I have been a longtime consumer of podcasts as they offer such a wide variety of content. My first exposures to podcasts was through iTunes, which hosted ZenCasts. I subscribed to ZenCasts years ago and still listen to them when time permits. The fact that one can subscribe and receive automatic downloads is one of the great features of podcasts and one that I truly value. I appreciated the many resources, including communities and affinity spaces, that were described in these chapters and am certain to use many of them as I begin to produce more content for learning.

Gaylor, B. (2008). RIP : A Remix Manifesto. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from

Jacobson, E. (2010). Music remix in the classroom. In Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (eds.) DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies (27-49). New York: Peter Lang.

Shamburg, C. (2010). DIY podcasting in education. In Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (eds.) DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies (51-75). New York: Peter Lang.

A Color Red Podcast

The following podcast was an assignment for my Producing Media for Learning Course and was: Record a 5-10 minute podcast on “a color,” not color, but “a color.” Well, that’s vague and abstract, and me, I’m not very artistic. When I think of this I’m […]

My Response to “Using Digital Storytelling to Support EFL Learning in China”

One of my principal concerns with teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Korea is the learner’s “affective filter.” Lightbrown & Spada (2013) write the following description of the affective filter hypothesis: Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis is proposed to account for the fact that […]

Digital Story Response No. 3: “Rites of Passage”

The digital story “Rites of Passage” compares and contrasts the educational experience of the storyteller, Nikiko Masumoto, with the educational experience of her Japanese-American grandmother during WWII. This story made me acutely aware of the fact that for digital stories to truly appeal to me that they must connect to some shared personal experience. Although no one in my family was ever herded off to a concentration camp like Masumoto’s grandmother, I do have dear friends that underwent this tragic experience. I first learned of this wholesale injustice many years ago when I was studying the history of WWII while living in Japan. Until that point, I was ignorant of the terrible manner in which Japanese Americans were treated during the war. Many years later, while living in Hawaii, my wife and I worked for a Japanese-American family that had been arrested in Hawaii and forcibly evacuated to camps in the American West. My wife and I discussed this experience with these now elderly people and the long-term negative effects this internment had on their family. They expressed little anger but are still at a loss to understand how the U.S. Government justified this cruelty. My explanation is that when violent empires collide, empires that teach their citizens that they are superior, or might I say exceptional, it most often entails dehumanizing the other which permits all types of injustice. The fact they were handled like criminals and suspect due to their ethnicity is a crime in itself and one that must never be repeated.

The story worked very well, although it is actually two stories skillfully woven into one. It engaged me, possibly more than it might engage some, due to the experience of my friends that I described above. The characters are very real and I feel a personal connection to them. The story makes the importance of education very clear and also reminds us of the different opportunities we have due to circumstances that are beyond our control.

The project was very well researched and holds up to what I have learned of this tragic episode in U.S. History. Masumoto succeeds in sharing the experience of her grandmother without resorting to preaching. Although, her voice is a bit dramatic for my liking, and is not necessary, as the story itself evokes an emotional response.

The digital story itself was not overly creative, although the images she included nicely supported her storytelling and were visually appealing. I do wish that Masumoto would have included some period background music, as this would have added some life to her production.

I truly appreciate her sharing “Rites of Passage” with the world, nicely done!

Daily Create: Twelve Photos of 10,000 Won Korean Bank Notes

I couldn’t resist sharing this photograph of twelve 10,000 won bank notes for today’s Daily Create, #tdc1709. I have read a good bit about King Sejong the Great and I’m now learning the writing system he created, Hangeul. It is a very logical system and […]

A Neighborhood Shortcut in Uijongbu-Shi, ROK

I take this shortcut several times a day which is just a few steps from my door in Uijongbu-Shi, ROK. My wife suggested that it would make a nice nighttime shot, and I agree. I realized after shooting it that it was not the assigned Daily […]

Response to Chapter 4: “Visual networks: Learning and Photosharing”

  I was immediately struck by how openminded Guy Merchant was concerning graffiti in his neighborhood. I, like many, have often viewed graffiti as a form of art, and yet art that is defacing the property of others. Although I strive to be openminded I am quite sure that I would not have approached neighborhood graffiti as Merchant (2010) describes:

As a professional educator with an interest in literacy practices—and particularly in the ways in which some of these practices are formalized and held in high esteem while others are marginalized, or even, as in the case of most graffiti, simply made illegal—I’d been photographing the tags, slogans and wall-art in my neighborhood for a year or so. I used these images in my work, as examples of forms and mark-making processes that normally are overlooked as a literacy practice. (p. 79)

    And yes, my closed-minded judgment of graffiti would have led to a missed opportunity, as I too would have overlooked graffiti as a literacy practice. Merchant (2010) turned neighborhood graffiti photos into a positive learning experience by posting them on his existing Flickr account where they came to the attention of graffiti artists, who also use Flicker to store images of their own work. He was then drawn into an “affinity space” after receiving illuminating comments on some of the graffiti photographs he had posted (p. 80). According to Merchant (2010), he was later invited to a Graffiti Jam where he came to better understand these artists and their need for a canvas that was met by doing “… ‘illegals’ on warehouse buildings and railway bridges …” (p. 80). He, therefore, experienced what I might describe as a very positive social networking experience, starting with an online community that culminated in a face-face meeting with some of the affinity space members. Flicker facilitated this experience since he had originally  “gone public” with the graffiti photographs using their online platform.

    Later in the chapter Merchant (2010) shares with readers “… how social networking around photographs illustrates some of the central features of Web 2.0, the attraction of user-generated content, and how new practices are emerging which present exciting opportunities for learners and teachers” (p. 81). By posting photographs on Flicker and allowing others to add comments and tags one invites the opportunity for the creation of affinity spaces, where the photo, acting as the social object under discussion, is central to the space. The social affiliation is driven by the photograph. Discussing the photograph causes members of the affinity space to reflect more deeply on it, and the opportunity for valuable reflective learning is created. In our busy world I often feel that I fail to adequately reflect on much of the knowledge I am exposed to, and therefore fail to truly understand it, or recall it when it might prove useful. Hence, I value learning practices that aid me in reflection, and those learning devices which surround an object, where one must take the time to reflect on, and discuss an object are invaluable.

    In this piece Merchant (2010) also introduced me to VoiceThread, which he describes as a tool that promotes “learning through reflection and interaction.” VoiceThread permits the importation of Flicker images and once images have been imported a slideshow can be created. A discussion is then encouraged which is centered on the slideshow and participants can comment in writing, or record a spoken comment (p. 97). I have already signed up for a free (limited) VoiceThread account, as I see where this interactive, multimodal tool could be very useful in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), which is my passion. This reading presented me with many new ideas and concepts focused on learning with images, which I intend to add to my ever-growing bag of teaching tools.


Merchant, G. (2010). Visual networks: Learning and Photosharing. DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies, 79-102.

Digital Story Response No. 2: “My Iligan”

While searching for a digital story to critique for this week’s assignment I, fortunately, stumbled upon the prize-winning story “My Iligan” produced by Arkay Timonera of the Philippines. Timonera was awarded first prize in the 2009 My Iligan digital storytelling contest held in Mindanao, Philippines. […]

Visual Assignment for Week 3: Room Tour

My wife and I recently moved into this cozy little two bedroom apartment in Uijongbu-Shi, ROK. We arrived two weeks before the Fall 2016 semester commenced, so we furnished the space quickly. The computer and its monitor traveled with me as checked baggage. The day […]

Digital Story Response No. 1: “Ethnolinguistic Profile”

I chose to critique the digital story “Ethnolinguistic Profile: Self-study of a Multilingual Person” as it was attached to the scholarly article that I responded to this week, which was “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL.”  Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) included it as an example of a student-produced, compelling, digital story. Another reason for choosing it is the fact that it addresses L2 learning and ethnolinguistic issues that frequently arise, and all too often hamper language learning. Teaching EFL is my professional focus and this digital story addresses some of my concerns with L2 learning environments.

Talking Not Permitted

I found this digital story quite well done and therefore find it difficult to critique. Added to this is the fact that I have never produced a digital story, which makes it doubly difficult to review, and/or criticize another’s fine effort. That said, this assignment requires that I examine and review a digital story, so critique I will.

Cake with Caption

This digital story appears to have been produced using MS PowerPoint, or another slide show presentation application. The graphics, photos, and text are added to the slides, and then the narration is later overlaid. The completed slide show is then exported in video format, which is one of the most straightforward ways to produce a digital story, and in this case, it worked quite well.

Blended Languages

The video runs for six minutes and thirty seconds and I found it a bit long. I’m not certain where it should be cut, but possibly some of the language examples that are presented could be simplified, which would reduce the overall run time. I noted that the audio track levels vary between some of the slides, and maintaining similar levels would also improve the production. The background level of the music track could also be increased, although I prefer background music that is too low, versus music that overpowers the narrator.

I truly appreciate the images that were used in this production and found that they definitely supported the story. I do indeed understand why Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) included it as a successful example of a student-produced digital story.

My Response to “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL”

One of the main reasons I recently relocated to Uijongbu-Shi, Republic of Korea (ROK) was to teach. My focus will be on teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and I plan to take advantage of available technology, to better my teaching, and to improve […]