Using Digital Storytelling to make research compelling

On this site, I’ve been creating a Research Development Portfolio as part of my coursework for the doctoral program in Ed Psych, Ed Tech at Michigan State University.  This is my first semester, so I am tasked with beginning my journey as an academic and researcher.  For this particular assignment, I was asked to utilize the genre of Digital Storytelling to create a compelling introduction to my research interests.  What I attempted to do with my research statement is to boil it down to its essence, pulling from the genre of poetry to do it.  I was thinking of how, in poetry, no word is wasted–it seems almost antithetical to the world of academic compositions.  I tried to play with the genre, the ideas, and the task to create something compelling.  I am also under enormous pressure and deadlines this week, so I was limited in the time I had to dedicate to the task.  Isn’t this usually the nature of composition though? That the writing is never finished, it is just due?

Comments welcome: I am hoping to revise once the semester is over.

POST EDIT: Since I am having issues with the youtube embed and my theme, the direct link is

RDP: Research Interests

A face for research

As I was diligently attempting to finish the first round of requirements for my Research Development Portfolio, I was out on the Teachers College Record website, double-checking my citations, when I noticed that there was a video in the corner of the page.  Oh! I thought, how fun! Something shiny! Frankly, at this point in my procrastination cycle, I might have been distracted by paint drying, but click I did.  How astonished was I to find the actual researcher of the research I had been reading discussing the research!  This was a big deal to me.  Apparently, the Teachers College Record is spending time and effort to produce high-quality companion videos to their published articles.

It brought me back to another procrastination moment when I was reading about book trailers.  In the publishing industry, now that print is dead, book trailers are all the rage.  Authors were undergoing the agony of a “fireside chat” about their novels.  Brutal. The article, published in the New York Times, outlined the sometimes humiliation that went along with this push into multimedia. (Quote: “And now, those who once worried about no one reading their books can worry about no one watching their trailers.”  Ouch.)

Now, after reading the article with a smug satisfaction (at least my industry doesn’t require this of me! I’m going to be RESEARCHING things! haha!), I find myself faced with the task of producing what is essentially a “Research Trailer.”  Yes, I will be posting, in a matter of days, a digital storytelling representation of my research interests.

In the end, what I am realizing is that multmodal composing is a skill that is very much in the mainstream.  Even in areas that seem unlikely to include a companion multimodal composition, like a research journal, are employing it.  Digital Stories, videos: these are powerful modes of communication.   My hope is that as composition teachers, we recognize the need for developing this skill-set with our own students. How are you incorporating multimodal composing into your learning or teaching?

Motivation interview with Paul Oh

In CEP 900/930, we were tasked with creating an audio interview that demonstrated motivation in learning.  Here is my interview with Paul Oh, senior program associate with the National Writing Project.

I chose to interview Paul Oh for many reasons.  First and foremost, he is one of the most motivated learners I know.  He is a curious person who is willing to engage in many topics, to see all sides of an issue, and to help others think deeply.  He seems to do this, at least from my vantage point, out of a strong sense of an intrinsic need to know more and do better.  Paul has been using social media to connect with numerous teachers across the nation, and from my interview with him, I learned that Paul cares deeply for his work, just as he deeply values the intellectual engagement of his many activities.  In my final audio below, I note that the most significant aspect of our almost two hour conversation (don’t worry: I agonized to cut it down to two-and-a-half minutes) was how incredibly valuable it is to Paul to have the opportunity to engage in the exchange of ideas in his own way.  This sense of autonomy is fostered by both his work and his use of social media.  I think as teachers, it is easy to forget that our students have their own curiosities and ways of learning, and that by fostering those we can in turn foster a motivation to learn throughout a lifetime.

Motivation interview with Paul Oh

The Language of Learning

A journal entry from Ralph Waldo Emerson, dated November 2, 1833 reads “Nature is a language, and every new fact that we learn is a new word; but rightly seen, taken all together, it is not merely a language, but the language put together into a most significant and universal book. I wish to learn the language, not that I may learn a new set of nouns and verbs, but that I may read the great book which is written in that tongue.”

This quote came to me from Encyclopedia Britannica blog, who featured the artist Wendy Wahl.  In describing why she chose to create art from discarded Encyclopedia Britannicas, she cited the above quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I find Ms. Wahl’s art incredibly moving and inspiring as I, too, push forward into a world that Emerson describes, a world with its own discourses, its own poetry, and its own secret syntax.  I have never felt more as if I am stumbling towards some kind of proficiency than I do now.

What inspires us to learn the language? to seek out new knowledge?  What is it that pushes us to question, to ponder, to tinker? What about you?  What inspires and motivates you?