42 hours, 5 airports, 1 train, 1 taxi, and thousands of miles.
I have reached my destination.
Welcome to the 4th International Digital Storytelling Conference held in the beautiful city of Lillehammer, Norway.
With over 200 participants from all over the world, I am not phased at all by the fact that I am the only New Zealander present, and have probably travelled the furthermost to be here. The small number of participants provides an intimate context to establish and maintain some great conversations with others—a little different from the thousands I am used to at ULearn. We’re all here to engage in three days of professional learning conversations with one common focus—”Digital Storytelling”.
Day one: inspirational conversations and digital storytelling gurus
Without a doubt, Day One was amazing!
I was inspired during workshops as well as by conversations held throughout lunch and morning tea sessions. The mix of participants is so diverse, and somewhat humbling for an early childhood teacher from South Auckland. I’ve enjoyed conversations with university professors, journalists, health professionals, anthropologists, museum staff, psychotherapists, teacher service educators, organisations who work with youth—from all around the world.
Joe Lambert and Glynda Hull
The huge draw-card for me to this conference was the opportunity to see Joe Lambert (Center for Digital Storytelling) and Glynda Hull (University of California, Berkeley). They are my digital storytelling gurus! And after hearing them both speak I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to hear their ideas.
Joe Lambert’s message in his opening speech was clear: Digital storytelling is about giving voice to those who do not have a voice. It’s not only the ‘how to’ of Digital Storytelling but also how it can make you a better person and how it changes you.
Glynda Hull followed suit with some powerful statements, the most relevant for my work, was the following – ‘Sharing Digital stories both online and offline can have unexpected and unintended consequences’
She shared examples from the International Social Networking site Space2Cre8, a site that connects kids in India, Norway, South Africa, Australia, and the US, who share conversations about their cultures, schools, and lives as well as their digital artifacts they create in the after school program.
Hull discussed the notion of ‘mirror stories’, and demonstrated this with two stories: one created by a young girl in India and her struggles with day-to-day living, she then showed a story from a teenage boy in the Bronx who saw this story and decided to document his neighborhood and life – bringing to light the similarities and differences.
Day two: workshops and Naketa’s presentation
Day Two offered a wide range of workshops, including my own “Engaging Community through Digital Storytelling” presentation.
My presentation: Engaging Community through Digital Storytelling
My presentation shared stories created by three to five year old children in the ECE ICT PL Programme, and ways that teachers and families in this programme used digital storytelling to engage families, extended families and community in the early childhood curriculum. The Ministry of Education funded programme certainly provided children, teachers and families with world-leading opportunities.
I had lots of comments about the age of the children creating their stories as well as their competency.
I was a very proud Kiwi at this point.
My Takeaways from the digital storytelling conference
The workshops I attended were aimed at Identity and Engaging Community—something I am very keen to see influence my own practice with teachers. In my current work I am assigned to a Targeted In-Depth Community – Tāmaki-Maungakiekie. The work we are doing looks at engaging geographical communities in Ministry funded in-depth professional learning.
Practical strategies I have adopted from the workshops:
- Who we are and what we do has an impact on how we interact – capturing this through digital stories is useful for team building.
- Digital Storytelling as a reflection tool for early childhood teachers.
- Place-Based Storytelling – children and families creating stories about their local community – maunga, iwi, marae.
- Investigate more into the CDS model
- Multi-modal literacies (advocate for this more in my work).
There is much more to implement once I reflect more on my learning and trial this with the teachers I am currently working with in Tāmaki-Maungakiekie.
Overall, the conference was moving both personally and professionally. I’ve learned that it’s healthy to step outside of our education bubble and our own country to be inspired. It has been refreshing to look outside of education as a discipline and hear the stories of social justice advocates, museum curators, health professionals (the range is extensive) and adopt practices into my own work and my own thinking.
If we hear stories of ‘other’ and start blurring the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and focus on a ‘WE’ the world could be a better place.
Naketa Ikihele is an Early Years facilitator for the Auckland region. Naketa is passionate about strengthening communities through teaching and learning. Her Māori (Ngāpuhi) and Cook Island background has sparked her most recent passion of engaging Māori and Pasifika learners and families through Digital Storytelling.