I have been seeing a bit of free storytelling software lately for eLearning alternatives to textbooks. For those that are unfamiliar, digital storytelling is the process of taking a narrative and transforming it into a story with motion graphics, moving stills, and voiceover. Sometimes, this includes videos but most the time it is a way for people to tell a story without large productions.I have limited experience with this idea. I am familiar with HopeLab’s Digital Storytelling Workshop for working groups. I believe in the idea of sharing your own story and the cathartic feelings that may follow. But, my experience with digital storytelling and instructional design is limited. I have dabbled in PowToons to get my toes wet, but have not used it as a learning activity, yet.
Part of the reason I haven’t used this method yet is my employer is impressed that animations do not work as well as real actors. Perhaps this is true, BUT real actors require larger budgets and longer timelines to produce video. Animation is something that may become more prevalent in the research fields for this budgetary reason.
A few storytelling freeware services have a welcoming look and claim to be easy to use. Although, I have not used all of these, I plan to explore them further as possible alternatives to videos with actors. For now, here are the pros and cons I have identified by exploring their websites.
Pros: Engaging passive learning as alternative to PowerPoint or slides.
Cons: May take a good amount of effort to make your project look like the example below. But good things come with effort and time.
Example Videos: https://youtu.be/wOJweQDXh9A
Pros: Fast storytelling with premade characters, props, and scenes.
Cons: Computer generated voice still sounds like a robot… you would have to record your own voice to make it good.
Example: OverGo Studio: Inbound Marketing Gone wrong http://goanimate.com/videos#
Pros: Record and narrate your slide presentations for online delivery
Cons: Severely out of date, possibly boring
Example: Sanctuary Spa d’Sante by Doa, May, Molder, Obeng, and Pope http://www.slidestory.com/slidestorys.swf?scid=1510
I am unsure about paying for any of the three services listed, but may consider another service with a bit of animation support. PowToons had the best examples and has changed significantly since spring of 2014 when I first explored the functions.
In considering whether this is an appropriate way of providing targeted health behavior intervention learning content, I am not sure. It depends heavily on the audience. If the target intervention audience is from ages 4-16, animated digital storytelling could be effective. If the target audience is adults with other worries, an animation may not be educational at all.
I will definitely revisit this idea for eLearning activity delivery.