Content Area Vocabulary Digital Stories

Award Winner: 
2008 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
S Wegmann
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Central Florida
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Since digital stories are an effective way to engage students, this project asks teachers to develop digital stories that focus on their content area vocabulary. It also requires teachers to use potentially unfamiliar technology programs to help them connect with their technology-native students. Finally it invigorates asynchronous online discussion among my students as they review each other’s work.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Since many of my online college students are technology immigrants and unfamiliar with the technology that their own students are using, I developed a digital story activity that “forces” them to use video, audio, and story telling. After showing them several digital stories I have created, I ask them to choose 5 vocabulary words from their high school content area and create a story that encompasses these words. Then they must use PhotoStory to create a digital story, complete with pictures, music, and their own voice. Afterwards, they upload it to and post the URL to our discussion boards, where they will receive peer reviews.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

My purposes for doing this assignment are threefold: a. to immerse my students in potentially unfamiliar technology b. to build the base of resources available and c. to incite online interaction among my students (Haythornthwaite, Kazmer, Robbins, & Shoemaker, 2000). Students have reported to me that they plan to use their digital story in their future classrooms. They also plan to have their students create digital stories for future students. This project has the potential to reach numerous students as it will build from year to year.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning effectiveness: This project follows effective pedagogy practices of modeling/demonstrating, guided practice, independent practice, and presentation. Access: free technology programs and tutorials on the Web, free upload to Faculty Satisfaction: I have convinced two other faculty members to create their own digital stories and they are considering using a similar assignment in their classes. Student satisfaction: end of the semester evaluations gave this assignment a high student rating. Some said this was the most useful assignment they had completed in their college careers.

References, supporting documents: 

Haythornthwaite, C., Kazmer, M. M., Robbins, J., & Shoemaker, S. (2000). Community development among distance learners: Temporal and technological dimensions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4 (2). Retrieved June 14, 2006 from

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
S Wegmann
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