Reflection #1 (Week 4): What it Means to be a Superhero Storyteller

Spiderman by Neil Slorance (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0):
Uncle Ben in Spider-Man (2002) -

In the movie excerpt above, Uncle Ben uses a line from the original Spiderman comic, Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962): "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." This would become an inspirational quote for superheros and us ordinary citizens alike.  In the image below, Wikipedia uses the same phrase within its own Guidelines for editing Wikipedia entries in order to underline the gravity of making any changes to its 4.2 million "stories" that it tells.  

Screenshot of Wikimedia using the phrase for its guidelines for how to edit Wikipedia - Jhenderson777 - 

What does this all mean for my Reflection #1 in Week 4?

What have you learned or gained thus far? Details.
I have learned that there is such a thing as responsible storytelling, especially when it is within an open-source, digital platform. We as instructional designers, teachers, writers, gaming producers, or transmedia content contributors, must consider our audiences, whether young or old, whether highly educated or just beginners. ALL are now consumers of media, and we have a great opportunity to be influencers, social changers, and creative educators, but must not take that responsibility lightly in shaping our mediascapes. (I believe we are not in a marketing or advertising program for a reason.)
I have also learned the importance of viewing-reading-listening-consuming with self-awareness, and that this is part of digital literacy that needs to be learned and that we can teach. But becoming media literate takes practice, so I am appreciative of the insights and exposure I have gained so far in these first four weeks.

What would you like to learn more about? Why?
Speaking of exposure: I would like more exposure to different types and examples of effective (or even ineffective) digital stories and more tools and modalities for digital storytelling. This will take more eResearch, more exploration of apps and software, and more practice in the doing of storytelling; all of which I anticipate will be part of the weeks to come.  I hope these journeys will include Generational studies and collaboration and media curation together.
And I look forward to continuing our critical analysis on consumption and use of digital stories, as we've done in our annotation discussions.

Have you left the status-quo behind? Do you feel challenged? Explain.
My status quo: performance-based and under-creative academic pursuits, have been left behind. But, okay, I do find myself running backwards down the street to see if they will catch up and allow me the comfort of rules and grades. Alas, they are nowhere in sight. Challenges? Here's one: I sometimes find myself sitting in front of my laptop for an entire hour wracking my brain around how to even start being creative!  I would guess that's the antithesis to actually being creative. But I got back on our story bus and I have to admit I'm feeling pretty darn creative at the moment!

What did you expect coming into this course, and what have you actually received, thus far?
I actually expected that digital storytelling was more defined by social media and that this would be a study of those mediascapes (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.). But I have discovered there are a lot more avenues for digital storytelling, that it is more community-based in a way, and that there is somewhat of an art or sophistication to it (even in the midst of the spontaneity and creativity).  
I expected that it would include learning some technical tools and that is a challenge for me because it takes me a long time to learn some of these apps and navigating their websites (not to mention that there are way too many options!).
I expected the course to be project-based but not that it would have so many quick, short-term (weekly) projects. This means I have to dive in and just keep swimming and can't take much time to plan and perfect. (This, I have surmised, is intentional.:)

What would you like to learn and do for the second four weeks of our time together?
I like the pattern of the course with challenges, dialogues, and reflections.
I look forward to learning more about digital story audiences and "consumers" especially Gen Z learners. I find these generational studies to be just as relevant to my higher education focus (because these are our future students) as to our societal study of younger media users. This is crucial because digital storytellers need to know their audiences and their contexts.
I would like to continue to explore more examples of digital storytelling, including ideas for application. This would be similar to Jenkins's "What Can Be Done" sections but updated for 10 years later and beyond. (Although I would also be curious about the other 8 core things that Jenkins' suggested since we only studied 3.) This would also include exploring more tools, apps, and online resources - even though it can take a long time to learn about them - how they work - and /or how to use them.  

Reflect specifically on the ideas/ideals presented in the videos above, and the article we annotated this week. With whom do you agree or disagree most strongly - Sir Ken Robinson, John Seely Brown, or Henry Jenkins?
All three of the authors had some wisdom to share along with a few personal opinions that I thought were 'thoughts to consider' rather than universal truths. Sir Ken Robinson was right on the mark of how we have 'dulled' and institutionalized education and we must return to a more freer, creative idea-focused classroom. Even though we might be an over-diagnosing society, I thought he went to an extreme with his ADHD comments and was insensitive to those students who truly do suffer with the condition (and there may be more of them than in decades past).
I have circled in the graphic below what I think was one of the most important points Robinson made: "Great learning happens in groups - collaboration is the stuff of creativity." So true!

This, too, was a key point of John Seely Brown's: he inspires us with the four surfers who "embrace change" and thrive because they "compete and collaborate with each other." However, if you listen below to the few seconds starting at 4:08 sec (to 4:23 sec), he gives a whole list of learners who, "in the right context" can achieve almost anything. I think that's where the problem lies. Many learners are not in the right (socioeconomic) context to make it on his list or to be 'unstoppable'. They do not live in Maui with every afternoon to surf; their families cannot afford for them to be on sports teams in order to become athletes; or their communities do not offer ballet lessons. How do we make these "right contexts" accessibly to all young people?

video excerpt 4:08-4:23 -

I already made most of my comments about the Henry Jenkins's excerpt in my annotations. But one other is about his point of the importance of first teaching/learning textual literacy before any other media. But I don't think textual literacy needs to be independent from digital literacy. There is power (and responsibility, remember?!) in digital media (even storytelling) that can be instrumental in teaching and reinforcing textual literacy in new and engaging ways.

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About Jacki Soister

I am an instructional designer and have been working in higher education online learning for over six years. I have a daughter and a son-in-law, a cat named Cookie, and a motorcycle named Ruby.
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