Radika’s Dream

Another story about how soccer (the beautiful game) empowered someone to strive for their dreams.  This time it’s a story from Nepal.  Radika’s Dream is a moving story about a girl in Nepal who wouldn’t let her dream of playing soccer be squashed, even when she was scolded and beaten by her mother for playing soccer.


One of the most powerful statements from Radika is when she said, “Being a girl…are we allowed to dream?”  Raised in a society where girls are meant to stay within four walls, she shows all of us the power of not giving up on our dreams.  She talks about how she didn’t have any equipment when she was growing up, so she played barefoot with her feet painful and swollen.  That still didn’t stop her.  And being the only girl in her neighborhood who wanted to play soccer, she had to convince other girls to play soccer too.  So not only did she break down the barriers on a personal basis, but she also convinced other girls to breakdown those same barriers.

And Radika talks about the pain of her family wanting her to marry and raise kids.  She knew she wanted something different, even to the point of dreaming of playing with Ronaldo, one of soccer’s greatest players. Her strength shines through when she talks about how she had to fulfill her dream herself because she didn’t have any help from her family, friends, or neighbors. And then one day, a man approached her and asked if she wanted to play for a club team.  Just two weeks after she joined the club she was named captain of the team.  She was so proud because she showed her mother and her society that a girl can play football like a boy.  “And girls can dream…”

This was a very simple story with very basic production values.  It was just a series of photos and Radika narrating the story.  But the story is powerful because of the content and emotion behind it.  A lesson to all of us instructional designers who want to use digital storytelling in our work.

Ohler’s assessment traits:

  • Story – The story is the most powerful part of this digital story.  It’s about a girl striving to reach her dreams in a society that doesn’t normally allow this type of activity.  But through a series of images and the narration we get a real sense of who Radika is, and how much she wanted to play soccer.  And the images often emphasized the emotions of the story, like the picture of Radika feeling the pain of being told not to play.  It was a very powerful image.
  • Content Understanding – It felt as if Radika really felt the story as she told it.  Even though her English was not the best, she was still able to convey the strong emotions because she lived the story for so many years.  This was not a story about a quick redemption, but about a long struggle that began when she was very young.
  • Sense of Audience – If felt that Radika was talking to two audiences.  First, she was talking to the world.  She wanted to let the world know that even in a remote place like Nepal, young girls are struggling to reach their dreams.  And secondly, and probably most importantly, she was talking to other girls who might be in her same situation.  I got a very strong sense that she wanted every girl to dream, and then to got out and achieve those dreams.




A Road Traveled – a look at the roots of digital storytelling

This week we got to explore the roots of digital storytelling with Joe Lambert in his book Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community.  Chapter 3 of the book is titled A Road Traveled – The Evolution of the Digital Storytelling Practice.  It is a fascinating look at how Lambart evolved from an early participant in the American folk song scene to his later involvement with the San Francisco theater scene and on to involvement with early storytelling in short films and eventually landing in the middle of the early days of the revolution in digital storytelling with computers.  He ended up as the founder of Story Center where he continues to ply his craft of teaching storytelling to others.

Reading Lambart’s story brought a sense of how all of these different phases of his life are tied together by one common theme – telling the story.  As he points out, coming out of the folk music movement  there was “the sense of significance that resulted when a person ‘found their voice and made their story heard’ was fundamental to our healthy living.”  It was the voice of the common person that mattered to them, not the wealthy or elite.

This voice of the common person was also found in the San Francisco Bay area in the progressive theater culture that was thriving in the 1980s.  According to Lambert this was a time of experimentation and it was a struggle for him to make ends meet,  but it was also a time when many artists were interested in telling their own stories as a counterbalance to the commercialism of the 80s.

And there was a new force that was coming into play – computer technology.  With the advent of personal computers a “Digital Tsunami” started in the early 1990s that would change how stories would be told.  Interactive multi-media became something that everyone could work with to tell their stories.  Creating web sites and presenting stories in the new format became the focus of his work.  And teaching this skill to others was where he focused his talents.

But it was always about the stories.  As he said, “I am moved by the stories more than the organization required to get to the stories.”  This is lesson for all instructional designers.  That in the end, we need to tell the stories, and help others tell their stories.  The methodology is a useful, but whether it’s folk songs, or theater, or web sites, we need to keep the focus on what brings us to these methodologies in the first place – the story.


Selfie with my pet

For my daily create I chose the Selfie With Your Pet assignment from DS106.  Not being one to take a lot of selfies, I thought it would be good to have one with my biggest fan – my dog Lizzy.  If you ever want to know what it’s like to be followed from room to room with a look of an admiring fan – get yourself a dog.  My cat, on the other hand, waits for me to stop by his perch and entertain him.  Which usually means some sort of scratch on my hands.

So anyways, here it is – me and Lizzy hanging out together:


And now for something completely different – Traffic Patterns

I’m once again looking for an unusual digital story that differs significantly  from the others that I’ve looked at in this blog.  Expanding my concept of digital storytelling, I found a digital story called Traffic Patterns about how humans make a very special type of wave pattern in traffic.  It’s part of the Engines of Our Ingenuity series on the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling web site from the University of Houston.


Having lived many years in large cities such as Denver, I’m very familiar with the ebb and flow of traffic.  Even though I now live in a small town with very little traffic congestion, I can still feel the tension and anger I used to experience when I would sit at a traffic light where it would take numerous cycles before I made it through the light, only to go through the same thing again at the next light.  Not realizing it, I was part of a kinematic wave.

Kinematic waves in traffic are created by our minds.  Knowing that it’s dangerous to get too close to a car in front of us, we create a “safe” distance between us and the next car.  35 mph seems to be the speed that allows for the greatest speed and safety combination.  But due to many possible interruptions (accidents, traffic lights, etc.), the cars get closer and closer.  And when the jam starts to clear, a wave is formed that travels in only one direction – backwards as we drive away from it. So even though they look like a physical phenomenon, they’re actually a social contract. Part of our instinct to live harmoniously together.  And they’re as reproducible as physical waves such as sound or water waves.


So next time you’re sitting in that traffic jam feeling anger and frustration, take a moment to remember that you’re part of a social phenomenon known as a kinematic wave.


I enjoyed this story because the topic is unusual and interesting.  It’s a short video made up of only still images and the narrator’s voice.  But it’s put together so nicely that there is a real sense of being at a location due to the sequencing of the images.

Ohler’s assessment traits –

  • Story: The story in this digital story is different from many of the other stories that I have examined.  There is an emotional content, but it is more complex than in the usual digital story.  The emotion comes from the idea that this kinematic wave is part of an experience that is very frustrating to many people.  So there is not a lot of drama to the story, but there is a tapping into that common emotional experience that so many people know.  For someone who has lived their entire lives in a small town without traffic problems, this story probably has much less significance to them.  So the emotion comes from a common and relatable experience, which is a technique that we can use in our own stories to make them more powerful.
  • Economy: This story is a very short story (only 3:26) that explains a very complex idea.  The use of images to tell the story actually makes it more economical because the image can be shown for only a second to get across an idea, or longer if needed.  Video imagery might make this story longer  due to using longer sequences to tell the story (such as video of traffic driving to get the idea across vs a quick image of cars driving).  So using images is a good technique for keeping our stories economical.
  • Media application: I thought the use of the narrators voice and the series of images was very effective at telling the story.  With the right sequence of images it is possible to give a sense of movement (or lack thereof) to the story.  I also liked how they used older black and white images to introduce the topic, which gives us a sense of being in the forties or fifties, and then they switched to color images as they started talking about the waves in current times.

Virtual reality and the future of storytelling

I’m stretching out a bit this week to take a look at what could be the future of storytelling.  In the article Virtual Reality Lets the Audience Step Into the Story by Olivia Koski we get a glimpse at the prospects for storytelling when it incorporates virtual reality.  With virtual reality technology becoming much more accessible to the average person over the past few years, it is now time to think about how this technology will affect our use of storytelling in the classroom.  Koski shares a number of scenarios where the story takes on a whole new dimension with the immersion of the participant in the middle of the story in ways that we could only imagine a few years ago.  Although this article is focused on how reporters can use virtual reality to share their stories, the same holds true for teachers in the classroom.


Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.  Now, thanks to the efforts of graphic journalist Dan Archer it is possible to put ourselves into the middle of the situation that occurred on that evening. And it’s possible to enter that virtual reality from a number of different perspectives, whether it’s Michael Brown, or officer Wilson, or as friends of Michael Brown, or even as bystanders recording the incident.  This ability to place ourselves, or our students, in the middle of historical events has tremendous implications for storytelling as a teaching practice.  Not only will students be able to view the events as if they were there, but they can view it from the many different perspectives that surround every event.  And with the inclusion of gaming theory and the ability to interact with the people in the story to change the course of events, it gives students the ability to explore the many “what if” scenarios that can increase understanding.

Project Syria is another virtual reality project where the participant is standing on a corner in Aleppo, Syria when a bomb goes off.  They see the chaos, fear, and pain of the surrounding individuals as they run from the scene or lie bleeding on the street.  They also visit a refugee camp where there is a continuous stream of new people showing up. Students can feel like they are actually experiencing the events that they hear about in the news. Scenes like these can tell a story beyond any 2 dimensional media.  Nonny de la Pena, creator of the Syria experience, feels that,  ” the virtue of virtual reality is that it puts ‘people inside the story so they can experience the action as it unfolds. [It] allows you to experience stories in a visceral way'”.  The stories of the people in the scene can resonate with the participants in new and interesting ways as they explore different individuals in the virtual reality.

And Koski also writes about some of the work that is being done on two of the biggest problems with current virtual reality systems.  One is the feeling of continuous motion that can make some people feel sick to their stomach.  Work is being done to fix the lag time problems that often cause these problems.  The second big issue is that it takes a lot of effort to put together these virtual reality sessions, which makes it difficult for individuals, such as teachers or reporters, to put together the sessions.  David Dufresne of MIT is currently working on software that would offer templates that story developers can use to greatly reduce the time and effort to put together a story.

Immersive virtual reality will likely change the way we tell stories in the near future.  There are still a number of hurdles to overcome, such as the cost of getting the technology into classrooms, and learning to think of stories in a non-linear fashion, but with the innovations that we are currently seeing in virtual reality storytelling, it won’t be long before we see students traveling to far away places while they sit in their classrooms.


Koh Panyee football club – where there’s a will there’s a way

Continuing on with my topic of “The beautiful game”, today I’m sharing the story of a group of boys in the village of Koh Panyee in Phang Nga Province in Thailand.  The village is notable for being built by Indonesian fisherman completely on stilts.


This true story is about a group of boys who lived in the village in 1986 and loved watching soccer on TV, but they had no place to play it themselves.  Not to be deterred, they decided to build a floating soccer field where they could finally play the game they loved. Through their own efforts they managed to build a floating field, and even though they would often end up in the water chasing the ball and playing on wood planks that had nails sticking up, they finally had the field that they wanted.  Eventually, they decided to participate in a tournament on the mainland.  They initially thought that they weren’t good enough to do very well in the tournament, but they ended up making it into the semi-finals.  The semi-final game was on a very rainy day and they went down by a score of 2 – 0 in the first half. At the half-time break they decided to take off their soccer shoes and play the game the way they always played it at home, in bare-feet.  They were able to come back and tie the match, but in the end they lost due to a late goal.  But they were so proud of what they’d done, plus with the strong encouragement of the other villagers, they decided to build a much nicer floating soccer field than the one they originally played on.  And they’ve been very successful in tournaments ever since.

This is a heart warming story about a group of young men who were determined to have a soccer field, and were willing to do whatever it took to get one.  The video is nicely produced and with the captions it’s easy to follow the story and share in the sense of accomplishment by the boys.  There is a wonderful contrast between the majestic beauty of the surroundings versus the small cramped space that the villagers called home.  It’s also a great introduction to the life of the villagers of Koh Panyee which seems to be a very tight-knit community.  The video has a very light-hearted  feel to it with a young boy’s voice narrating the video while happy native music plays in the background.

Assessment traits

  • Originality, voice, creativity: The voice of this story is one of its strengths.  The voice is all based on one young man who narrates the entire piece.  His voice gives credence to the idea that it was a bunch of young kids who decided to build the field and then accomplished it.  It is important for producers of stories like this one to understand that a story aimed at a younger audience is more believable and relatable if it uses the voice of a young person.
  • Flow, organization, and pacing: The video was very successful in how it was organized and the flow was consistent with the story.  It had a bright, happy feel to it that seemed to bounce along with the characters as they built the field, played on the field, and then eventually played in the tournament.  It felt as if I was one of the kids from the village playing on the field.  I especially enjoyed the occasional comments from the adults that showed that they were interested in the endeavor, but letting the players do it themselves.
  • Media application: This digital story would not have been successful if it didn’t have the images shot around the village and at the tournament.  Seeing the village on stilts gives us a different perspective on what it takes to enjoy some of the basics in life such as a field to play on.  Images of this nature can help us share remote and far away places with our students, which will not only help them understand very different cultures, but it will also help them appreciate their own environment and what they take for granted.


Daily Create – Mashup Day!

Today’s daily create is Mashup Day!

The idea is to mashup two famous people and/or events from October 12th.

On Oct. 12th, 1859 Emperor Norton I, the self proclaimed Emperor of the United States, issued an edict abolishing the United States Congress.

And on Oct. 12th, 1901 Teddy Roosevelt renamed The Executive Manor to The White House.

Which leads us to….