By Marlon Lewis, Educational Technology Consultant
Educators continuously explore and implement various means of educational technology, digital tools, and pedagogical frameworks to address the needs of the 21st-century learner. One exciting pairing of learning activity and technology use is the ability for students to create storyboards and podcasts using digital tools. By harnessing the power of these digital tools, institutions can create unique opportunities which allow for multidisciplinary and collaborative learning. For the digital learner, these tools present diverse learning opportunities that can be specifically tailored to the learning preferences of the modern student while allowing for the expression of the student’s voice. Reviewing the notes from the interview, the words ‘start with the end in mind’, ‘being intentional’, and ‘relationships’ stood out. Each of these words carries critical weight and meaning in creating a roadmap that motivates students to fulfill their aspirations and become success stories beyond high school.
Gwendolyn Kingsberry, Dean of Culture/6th Grade Advisor at Harlem Academy in NYC, has successfully integrated the use of digital storyboarding and podcasting with her 6th through 8th-grade middle school students. Inspired by a KQED Public Radio station’s youth podcasting competition, Ms. Kingsberry decided to champion her own storyboarding and podcast creation course at her institution. Kingsberry noted her program was designed around the station’s “Call for Change Youth Media Challenge”, which provides students the opportunity to share their ideas about the topics that impact them most.
Similarly to the station’s contest, Ms. Kingsberry sought to incorporate podcasting into her lessons. Students were tasked with choosing a poignant topic to ultimately use to create an engaging, thought-provoking, reflective, and impactful podcast. The topics discussed included Roe vs Wade, Education policies, climate change, the 1619 Curriculum, sports, and much more.
A theme emphasized by Ms. Kingsberry and the students throughout the process of podcasting was the message that “Although I’m young, I can do stuff now.”. Some of that, “stuff,” they spoke of included the writing of a 250-word essay, which became their initial student-created resource. This essay was then transformed/transcribed into a minute audio script. Using this script and various digital storyboarding templates the students were able to visually organize the overall configuration and presentation of their proposed podcast. Through the use of digital tools such as Adobe Spark and CapCut, students were then able to synthesize their thoughts & words, with recorded audio as well as visual representations into a digital podcast. This activity concluded with the digital sharing of links where these timely and impactful podcasts could be viewed.
As the presence of technology increases in the modern classroom, it remains important that these tools are able to engage, motivate and provide authentic-measurable learning & assessment opportunities. With the ability to engross and excite while creating an avenue for student expression, storyboarding and the creation of podcasts allows educators those opportunities and much more. As noted by Ms. Kingsberry, the potential for storyboarding and podcasting to be used across multiple disciplines to increase student engagement, productivity, individualism and creativity does exist. She also states that the experience provides an opportunity to participate in active, observable ways towards making a difference in our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation. By engaging students in group or individual storyboarding and podcastings activities, institutions are provided a chance to utilize a multidisciplinary approach which can increase educator and student collaboration. During these learning opportunities students are exposed to researching techniques, all facets of ELA skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening), visual arts as well as technology usage. Educators working collaboratively can offer students the chance to storyboard/podcast concepts across curriculums such as using these digital tools to explain science concepts, demonstrate mathematical procedures or illustrate historical events.
Currently, Ms. Kingsberry’s podcast elective is a class course that merges project-based learning Media literacy and Civic Engagement. Another approach in using storyboarding or podcasting is in the creation of an after-school club whereby students are able to engage in these processes. With devices such as laptops and Chromebooks becoming a staple for most institutions, the ability to conduct storyboarding and podcasting classes is already technologically available. While addressing the diverse learning needs of the 21st century student, early exposure to these digital activities will allow students to become familiar with real world digital communication processes necessary for success.