First of all, my apologies for not being able to join the Minds on Media session at ECOO. I was honoured to be part of it and the learning that ensued at last year's event and it is one of the greatest professional learning events that I've experienced. I hope that you enjoyed the day. --Doug

We all know of the power for engagement with story telling with students. Digital Storytelling takes it to the next level. Today, you'll experience some terrific ideas that I hope you can use immediately to enhance the learning opportunities in your classroom. Over the past while, I had been experimenting with quick and easy technology use for storytelling with a powerful payoff as you address the curriculum. Curriculum is key and the technology should not get in the road. I found that a marriage of Google's Streetview with other technologies leads to great opportunities. In my blog, I had created a few posts illustrating the power of this technique and my Minds on Media contribution was to share these with you.

Please read on to view blog articles that I wrote describing the concept and the response of other educators to it.

To get started, watch this short video. The Streetview access has changed a bit since the video. Instead of a "Streetview" button, look for the little yellow character that you can click and drag over your map to see where there will be images.








1) The original post was called "My Childhood Community" and appears below.

I was inspired to do this from a project by ZeFrank called “A Childhood Walk”. I think that it’s a terrific concept and I’m going to try to replicate some of it here. As a child, we occasionally went for walks but were always on bicycle tooling around town. Recently, I was actually in my childhood town of Clinton and went out to take a picture of the Cowper Street sign for a friend of mine, @cowpernicus, who used it on his blog and shared it with his father who had never heard of a Cowper Street. Hey, we had that in Clinton, and more. What blew me away as I was sending him a Google map showing the place was that this small Ontario town had been mapped by Google’s Streetview. That makes today’s entry possible.

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Today, I live 3 hours and 15 minutes from where I grew up. When asked by folks where it is, I’ll refer them to London and then Goderich which everyone apparently knows and point out that Clinton would be on the way to Goderich if you’re headed there from London. Then, they get it. Many had been there!

So, here are some fond memories. Picture a pack of us with brushcuts making this trip around town regularly.

Clinton Public School – I went to school here for 9 years from Kindergarten to Grade 8. There’s some new finishings on the exterior but the main office from where Mr. Gray ran the show is just through the main doors.


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Central Huron Secondary School – This was my secondary school home and it still has some great memories ranging from high school dances, playing soccer, basketball, wrestling, and badminton. The school had the original building which you see on the right and then the modern addition to the left. The gyms were located straight through the main doors. I understand that the original building and library have been refinished. I’d enjoy seeing that some day.


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Bartliff’s Bakery – Every town needs its gathering place and, after the Hotel Clinton burned, and probably even before that, it was Bartliff’s Bakery. You can still visit for the greatest of breakfasts and incredible coffee. But for us, it was for a daily afterschool bike ride to the back of the bakery for the baking mistakes and day olds. A friend of mine’s father, who was the baker, would invite us to take these things that weren’t saleable by their high standards.


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Fleming’s Feed Mill – This place works non-stop it seems processing grains, beans, and making cattle feed. My father worked there for years in the evenings and on Saturday mornings.


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Clinton Swimming Pool – What better way to pass hot summer afternoons and evenings that by swimming? We’d bike over and just lean the bikes against the fence. I don’t think I ever owned a bike chain back then. Later on, I’d get a job as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.


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St. Paul’s Anglican Church – An incredible church landmark on Highway 8. You could find the family here every Sunday morning.


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The Fort – I know that there’s nothing there but grass but picture an abandoned concrete block building with no windows or doors but two stories built just for hanging out. And we did. Superman had his Fortress of Solitude; we had ours.


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The Fish and Game – This is as close as street view gets you but up the street and over what used to be train tracks would take you to a club with a small zoo-ish collection. I remember seeing peacocks, for example, and we would look forward to regular trips here.


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This walk along memory lane is courtesy of my memories and images from Google Maps. Thanks to the original idea from ZeFrank. Particularly, if you have moved away from one location to another, it’s a great exercise to visualize things from the past.

I also like the concept in the classroom. Can your students build or tell a story composed of images from Google Maps? It’s one thing to type in an address and have the computer plot it on a map. But, it’s quite another to zoom in to StreetView where you need to get your bearings and orientation to get the picture perfect. How about documenting field trips? How about a tour of your province’s or county’s capital? How about landmarks? How about a new student to your class? Maybe it could be shared where they’re coming from or current students could give a tour of the new neighbourhood? There are opportunities at every street corner!

2) The original concept spread to using more than just blogs.

I woke up this morning and one of the first messages on Twitter was this from @thecleversheep. Now, Rodd is usually good for a thought provoking thought or two so I checked it out.


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I was quite surprised that the original post was one of mine. http://bit.ly/abtvdh As he noted, it led to thishttp://bit.ly/ci60ga and then http://bit.ly/2N9MLD. This all dates back to a posting that I had made about using images from Google Street View as a launch to a story telling activity. These weren’t the first responses that I had from the post – Stephen Downes shared images and thoughts from his own childhoodearlier.

I still think that his image of the Anglican Church in Metcalfe is pretty spectacular. I found the responses to his post very interesting. Not all invoke the happiest of memories; it was a sobering reminder to me that my trip Clinton this time wasn’t under the best of circumstances.

I also was quite interested in a parallel conversation roughly on the same topic by @peterskillen. His post had received some responses from others who liked the concept.


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When you dig deeper into Peter’s message, it is very supportive of the content in @mrspal ‘s posting, Stephen’s post, and mine. The concept is relatively simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s the stuff that could be classified as low hanging fruit if all you’re doing is scrapbooking images. The power, it seems to me is in the story telling. Stephen and I had used the power of the blog as our platform for our stories. However, Megan had moved to YouTube for hers

and also to a Google document. ARgh. Which won’t centre or embed …
Therein lies the rub. All of us had done it ourselves first before going anywhere near students with it. Learning and teaching at times needs to be selfish so that you totally understand the concepts before going any further. We needn’t apologize; we want the best of learning experiences for all. What better way to understand than to do it yourself in preparation for going live.
And, if you have a good idea, why not share it so that others can grow on your experiences. Megan has created this document which is student ready. Why not use it?
In her blog post, she also detailed a number of publishing platforms. I’d like to add a couple of others. How about Comic Life? I recently did a workshop about storytelling with a very talented colleague. She made reference to the power of the gutter when you’re writing or reading. Sure, pictures and captions are important but there’s so much that happens between the pictures to support inference and prediction.


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or a Prezi?
There’s lots of gutter there if you spread the images apart.
So, who can do this? It just takes a quick trip to Google Maps and to drag the little person onto the map. If it turns blue, it means that there is Street View available. So, if I head back to Clinton, I get this.


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But, that’s thinking pretty small. (Sorry, Clinton) How about this?


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Why not take a good idea globally? If you’re in the blue, you can do it. Or better yet, take the original premise and make it so much better.
Last week, I shared this concept twice during presentations in Bow Island. I hope that it turns out to be great story telling fodder for students there as well as Philadelphia or wherever Peter’s mother lives.

If we all look around or up, way up, who knows what story might be around the next click?


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3) Finally, why not make your tour or research multimedia? The Ministry licensed Frames 4 software is the perfect tool.

A couple of weeks ago, @kentmanning shared with me a screencast that he had posted to his Screencastwebsite showing an introduction to using Frames 4 with your own media versus using the Clipart that comes with the product. It was a very cool idea, using a screencast of the product to show how to use the product. He’s run some analytics on the site and his efforts have been downloaded a number of times. Kudos. Personally, I’m always a tad leery when it comes to Screencasts. I find that when I try to do one that my tongue quickly gets tied and I have a difficult time watching the screen, saying what needs to be said, and doing it all synchronously without the mannerisms that seem to come into play. I prefer to do my work in pieces and then assemble the parts. It’s important to know one’s limitations!

Since my original post, lots of folks had checked in with even better ideas than my original idea of creating a blog post.


What I find amazing is that all of these digital storytelling efforts use different tools. Whether it be a blog, flickr, Google Docs, Comic Life, … the ultimate goal is in the ability to tell your story. From an educational perspective, we are creating what I hope would be an environment that inspires story telling and a deeper understanding of the story being told. Above and beyond that link, there’s the whole skill set of computer abilities that goes along with it.

This past week, we incorporated “all of the above” and created our own digital stories using Frames 4. Its multimedia experience is second to none for the educational audience and provides a powerful platform for this activity. Plus, having the proper tools pushes this over the top. Here’s what we did.

Every story needs a title page. So, here goes! Welcome to Clinton. I used Google Streetview to grab the image of the radar screen that sits right at the corner of Highways 4 and 8.


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You need a context. Here’s an over view of the town. When I was growing up, we had one set of street lights. With the building of the new Tim Horton’s, another set of lights has been added near there and the public school. A pretty smart idea by the town planners!


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Welcome to Clinton Public School! I captured the image and added some text. But, it’s simpler than that! With a blog entry, I found that I used a screen capture utility to capture what I needed and then resized it. Frames 4 impresses me at this juncture. I just went to Google StreetView and displayed the view full screen. Pressing the PrtSc button places the entire content into the clipboard. Then, it’s just a matter of flipping to Frames 4 and doing a CTRL-V to paste the clipboard. I didn’t need to do any resizing whatsoever. The paste operation placed it centred and perfectly sized on the frame. Wow. Talk about ease.

The Pan and Zoom tool lets me take you right to the front doors of the school. I don’t ever remember using them! They were for guests. We had to use the other doors leading to the playground. I wonder if that rule still exists. I’ll bet it does.


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Down the street and around the corner takes you to Central Huron Secondary School. We had such a diverse population there, great gyms, and a football field out the back and down the hill.


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I duplicated this slide so that I could use the Comic bubble to show me daydreaming in class.


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And the story goes on and on. Check my previous posting if you want the rest of the tour.

I can see these becoming quite involved with students. I think that it’s important to have them label the scenes and components during creation so that any final debugging is easily done.


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Then, it’s time to add the audio. Nothing beats a good microphone and a perfect script so that you get the best results.

Of great importance is moving the scrubber bar to the appropriate spot on the timeline before recording. That lets you have consecutive audio bits on the same track and leaves you the second track if you want to add some music later on.

You’ll note that the audio takes more time than the default for the frame. This is easily adjusted. Click on the frame on the timeline and drag the duration slider so that they are synchronized!


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The final step is to “Make” your production which export it to a movie file and you’re ready to share it with the world! Thanks everyone for the inspiration for this activity.