How to tell a Digital Story

The key to successful Digital Storytelling is to keep it simple. The COFFEE tutorial is an excellent example of how photography and Adobe Voice can work together to deliver a seamless digital experience.

Moreover, perhaps it is time for Weekend Coffee. Put the kettle on and enjoy.

1. Setting the Digital Storytelling Scene

Begin by creating your scene. Envision where you what your stage to be. Use your camera and lighting to run test shots for possible scenes. Keep it simple.

For the COFFEE tutoring video – I used a kitchen table to place my items. Think of the things as your actors, and position them where they can deliver your message best. It is important to have your story ready and to do a few practice rounds before committing.

With COFFEE the positioning of the items – begins with the coffee jar and moves right to the sugar, milk, and water.

Photography by Gary Crossey IrishGuy - How to make Coffee

2. Start your Digital Storytelling Experience

What are the things in your digital story? I used Adobe Photoshop to add ID text. Consider your viewer when adding labels to photos. In my case, most people know what a cup and spoon are. Even with the most annoying names – find a way to be useful.

Boiling Water – having the instruction in use boiling water is more user-friendly than the label Kettle.

Photography by IrishGuy Gary Crossey - Asheville

3. Tell Your Digital Story

One step (or a teaspoon at a time). Consider how the instruction and the objects in the scene interact with each other. For the instruction to add one teaspoon of coffee – the coffee jar is positioned in full view, with the lid (open) and in center view. The hand reaches from the right. During the storytelling, the length of the arm decrease – helping to carry the viewer’s eye from left to right.


4. The steps to Digital Storytelling success

Establish the pace. The sugar jar seizes the position of the coffee. The sugar jar lid resumes the location and position that the coffee jar lid – creating a learning expectation. The end user can focus on the essential element of the lesson by not having to consider the less valuable items.  By positioning the lid from each jar in the same location, the viewer does not have to second question what the item is.

Photography by IrishGuy Gary Crossey Add sugar to coffee cup

5. Maintain the Pace

Maintaining the pace for a Digital Story is hard. When teaching a step-by-step process, the user focus does best when the other items on the stage do not upstage the frame message.

Positioning the jar of Coffee and Sugar – back in their place – is created by the pattern established in the first four frames. Always look for opportunities in your storytelling to provide objects in your scene “their place”.

Add Milk to Coffee - Photography by Gary Crossey for IrishGuy Asheville

6. Enhance you Message

Enhance your Digital Story Lesson with visual effects. Reducing the exposure rate of the camera created a time-lapse. The motion of the hand is reinforced by the prior frames – with the hand is also shot in stillness. The hand motion was set up by leaving shooting the image with a long exposure.

Look for moments to enhance your message with special effects. However, be careful not to let the special effect overshadow your message.

Visual Effects are powerful tools that overpower a weak story.  

Stir Coffee

7. One Step at a Time

The second to last frame – this is where everything can go wrong. The end user has already figured out that the water is next. All other items have had their turn and have returned to their spot.

When creating this second to the last frame – maintain. Yes, manage and deliver the frame as expected.

Try not to break your visual pattern by moving items around, or altering the camera focus.  By planning the stage layout before beginning to photograph the frames – you can imagine the position of objects. Grouping the Coffee, Sugar, and Milk together allows the viewer to capture the three prior elements quickly and calculate that that process involved four steps.

The learning process in this frame would less if the jars had not resumed their original position, with the caps restored.


8. Show the Result

What have we achieved? Was the lesson plan a success?

The successful reader of the Digital Story Lesson has a new or refined skill or piece of knowledge.

The Show The Result frame finalizes the lesson.  There is no more ground work, no more questions, no more information to share. The viewer has this last frame to grasp the importance, and leave with a deeper understanding.


9. Provide that Something Extra

Include something extra. Wrap up the experience with a helpful piece of information – that some of the users can use. The Digital Storytelling Lesson taught the user how to make a cup of coffee. The frame provides the user with the information they can add liquor to the drink – with the disclaimer that adding this step is limited to weekend use.


10. Recap the Essentials

Recap the overall process. When teaching a class – this is a perfect final slide that can be left on the screen for students to capture the information they need. Don’t treat this Digital Storytelling Lessons like a cooking show – that would end highlighting the final product. With a Digital Storytelling Lesson, it is best to recap the main points in the final frame (which may often be a repeat of the first frame).

Being Creative is a Choice

The concept of right vs. left brain functions interest peaked in the 1960’s. During which time the idea that the right side of the brain deals with Reason & Vision. While, the left side of the brain could handle Emotion & Language. Today, the Right Left brain functionality is considered completely false.

Now, the concept of Right Hemisphere and Left Hemisphere is in vogue.

Right Hemisphere

“The right hemisphere by contrast yield a world of individual changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate living beings with the context to the lived world. In the nature of things never fully graspable. Never perfectly known.”

  • Alertness.
  • Broad.
  • Open.
  • Sustained.
  • Vigilant.
  • Lookout of what is different from our expectations.
  • Understands individuals.
  • Disposition for the living.

Left Hemisphere

“The left hemisphere dependent on detective language in abstraction yields clarity and power to manipulate things that the known, fixed, static, isolated, decontextualized, explicit, general in nature but ultimately lifeless”.

  • Attention to detail.
  • Sharly focused.
  • Narrow.
  • Important and precise.
  • Specifics of what matters to you.
  • Understand Categories.
  • Disposition for the mechanic.
    • Tools and Machines are coded (even for a left handed person).

People who lose use of the Right Hemisphere have “a pathological narrowing of the window of attention”.

Frontal Lobe

  • Inhibit. (Permits you to stand back and observe).
    • Machiavellian (outwit the other party – manipulate).
      • Use and interact with the world for our benefit.
        • Food is the starting point.
    • Emphasize (see individuals from a distance – with interests and values).

For reasoning and imagination you need the use of both hemispheres.

Today’s Pursuit

Today we live in a paradoxical world. The pursuit of happiness is the objective.

  • Pursuit of happiness.
    • Leads to resentment and unhappiness.
    • Explosion of mental illness.
  • Pursuit of Freedom.
    • World that is more monitored by cameras.
    • Subjected to more networks of rules that strangle freedom.
  • Pursuit of Information.
    • Lead to less understanding.


REVIEW: Infrastructure, Culture, and Process

How to develop a happy team

How to develop a happy teamRecent research shows that 70% of people are unhappy at work. With being “too busy” as the number one reason for their lack of personal fulfillment. People are too busy being busy. Sure, the workplace has changed. The tools are different. The expectations are not the same.

Today’s successful business needs three working components:

  1. Infrastructure.
  2. Culture.
  3. Process.

The components are simple enough in concept. However, in the real business the practice can be a different matter.

What is work?

The first step to building a strong infrastructure is understanding what you and your team do.

Here are a few questions that will help begin building that foundation.

What does work mean to you?

  • How do you work?
  • What tools do you use?
  • Where do you work?

What does work mean to your employee?

  • How do your employees work?
  • What tools do your employees use?
  • Where do your employees work?

RSA Review Series by Gary Crossey.

REVIEW: SAMR Model for Teaching

Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition 

The SAMR Model was developed by Ruben Puentedura with the objective to provide educators with a framework to integrate technology into  the modern workflow. Puentedura understood the shift has happened. We are now working with tech tools that do different tasks than we did before computers.

Many of the first computer app made our tasks either easier or faster. With filing and storing data being the top objective. For many experienced Office user, and the few past Word-prefect users – Saving and Storage was one of the most important operator functions.

With my Google Drive Professional Development sessions many experienced users love the auto save feature. The easy search and find makes losing a document even more difficult.

Like me, some of the adults I work with began keyboarding on a manual typewriter. Typing is one skill that I acquire when I was young that I use everyday. For computer power users – it is important not having to look at your keyboard and that all your fingers work equally.

My typewriting skills transferred directly to the computer. My typesetting skills transferred too, making the Word easy to grasp. Word mirrored the typewriter – right to the paper. Now, with Google Docs the working environment makes another shift.

  • Typewriter
  • Word
  • Google Docs

For experienced computer users  (and typist) Google Docs appears to be the same. However there are difference.

Google have resolved some of the basic challenges using the computer.

  • Auto Save – no more losing important data.
  • Auto Backup – retrieve past data.
  • Auto Cloud Storage – no more losing files or misplacing files.

No More having to Save Documents

Save SAVE SAVE save – yes we have all lost a document from not saving. Now with Google Doc, its automatic saving. And now rather than spending time figuring out how to save, and where to save to. Google Drive offers a different approach – just use the app – let the app take care of the storage and saving.

Google Documents are living Documents

Another BIG shift with document creation. The document now lives. The document is accessible, changeable, and developing. Unlike the objective that both the typewriter and Word took – a document was created – then sent out to the world. And that message was normally sent out to the world on some form of (you got it) paper! The out come is final. Sure you can recycle the paper – but the message remains the same.

Google Docs has changes this idea that documents are complete. But rather that documents are never done. That the information on the document can be updated. And the people who have access to the document will have the most current version.

It actually sounds more difficult than it is. Think of it this way:

  • You have a club website.
  • You want to post the rules and conditions of your club on the website.
  • You have a Google Doc with the rules and conditions.
  • You embed the Google Doc to your website – to populate the Rules and Conditions.
  • Amendments to the Rules and Conditions are made to the Google Doc – website automatically updates.

Having Google Docs populate content to a website is only one example of how live content can be used. The amount of time that is saved when important information can be updated in one document and the different sources using the content are automatically updated. That’s one interesting feature of Google Doc that makes it different from what Word Processing give us the ability to do.

Google As a Group

The Google as a Group part of Google docs has been the most difficult for me to get people to adopt. Personally, I love some of the editing tools. So, I do wish the interface was more interesting, and I could format like I could in Office. Office did have awesome document styles.

Google Comments

What Google Docs does have are COMMENTS – may not seem like a big deal, but it is. For the experienced Word Processor – this is the time you might change your typeset to red and start editing a document. This is where you need to STOP.

Live documents need fast edits, with comments as the development area. Yes COMMENTS are king for all Google Doc editing.

  • Comments can be notes to yourself.
  • Comments can be notes to research a word.
  • Comment to Proof Check.
  • Comments could be a question to your team – Who is a vegan on staff?  Whatever!

I like to use comments as my document to do list. As I compose an outline I use the comments to plot out areas that I need to research, or may need help with. Like I said, my Document To Do List. 

Document To Do List

Even if I am working alone the comments provide a quick method to highlight a task – without having to leave the document. When writing, I use the comments a great deal. Firstly, I use the comments to take quick notes (typically questions) that I can come back to. Comments are easy to add, without losing your pace.

At the beginning of the a writing project my Google doc tends to be full of comments. Most of the comments require some fact checking and research. For me the comments represent my unresolved concerns for the document. My goal is to publish the document – when all of my comments have been resolved. The resolving of the comments tells me my document has been worked correctly and to my satisfaction. Saying that – you got to firm on your questions – do add tasks to your comments that you know you will not do. Or add comments to information you already know.

How Comments Impact Other

When using Comments as your Document To Do List it makes it easy for other team members to help. No more having to email to “EVERYONE” when you can simply add a comment to the shared document that anyone (who has the information) can update, and resolve the comment.

EXAMPLE: Notice for a Staff Meeting – Comment: Room Number?
Any one with the information can update the document and resolve the comment.

Again, this is a simple example of how to use comment to resolve simple questions. However the transaction is actually more complex. In the past, to confirm the room number of an event you would have to email, “someone” or “everyone” for the information. While there are a few different methods in email, for most people needing to discover a simple bit of information it normally plays out something like:

  • Email one personal directly. Wait on replay. Mostly able to resolve.
  • Email one personal directly. They don’t reply.
  • Email everyone – everyone replies – with many “out of office notices”

In all of those responses I am provided with the information I need. However, by the time I sent the email and the time the response was received I may have moved onto another task. GUILTY! This is where the problem becomes recognizable. Transferring that “small” amount of data from one place to another has now become a TASK!

STOP THERE! Google Docs has changes all of that. You need to know “anything” – select the word that your question is about an right-click > Add Comment.

EXAMPLE: Comment: What is the Room Number?

Be an Active User

Another difference with live documents – you need to be AN ACTIVE USER. Using the Comments system – we are faced with the Room Number Question. The same question when handled via email requires the exchange of information, followed with the processing, collecting and distributing of the received information. In our example, that information or data is the Room number.

The Old Information Workflow

Email Request for Room Number > Reply from Email has Room Number > Copy Room Number > Locate Document that needs the information > Paste the information into the document > Save the document.

The New Information Workflow

The active user understands that today workflow requires everyone’s involvement. For our simple example of obtaining the correct room number. The Workflow simply requires a comment to be posted that anyone with access to the document can resolve and update the document. The key to the success of the active user is the updating of the document directly and in doing sure is able to resolve the concern posed by the comment.

EXAMPLE: Comment: What is the Room Number? > Active User updates the document with the correct room number and resolves the comment, adding any additional information to the comment to support the comment being resolved.

SAMR Model for Teaching

The SAMR Model for Teaching is certainly a method that I support. I do believe that skills need to be transferable. And that people learn best when they can relate digital skills with their real world skills. While also understanding that the digital shift has happened in that the digital apps are not simply a mirror of past tools. Digital tools are now available that reshape the way we work and play.

Live documents are real. Working in teams – real too. Being able to adapt your skills in a every changing workflow and work requirements? The SAMR Model can help adult learners make a deeper connection with digital tools. Providing useful new approaches on how to work with and understand data and design.

RSA Review Series by Gary Crossey.

REVIEW: Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson.
Changing Eduction Paradigms. 

Education in the 21st Century is not fast enough. With the quick pace of developing technologies it is difficult to teach children the skills needed for an unknown future economy. The idea that doing well at school will lead to successful employment has become more a nostalgic notion. While a degree may be a requirement in some professionals, it certainly doesn’t guarantee employment.

Research has shown that with increased testing students lose interest. Tests are boring. Professional Adult Development does not have to boring. Everyone learns more when they are focused and engaged.

RSA Review Series by Gary Crossey.

Is Data the New Soil for your Business?

What is Data Visualization?

Knowledge = Power {from data}. Data Visualization Infographics are there to capture and relate the meaning of mass data.

Yes, we understand that knowledge based data is often not understood, appreciated, or seen. Which in an age that success is measured on your ability to share. You data driven message may be easily ignored when the data is difficult to understand – even when you are a numbers person.

Better Communication though Innovation” – Quote from video.

Data Visualization Infographics are a blend of Design and Data. Infographics can also be designed to illustrate relationships, hierarchies, complex systems, chronology, and mapping.

Data Visualization Infographics can provide the means to:

  • Focus on a precise data-set.
  • Tell a story.
  • Share Ideas and Concepts.
  • Form Connections.
  • Demonstrate the relationship between efficacy and popularity.

Our eyes and brain work quickly to process complex relationships and patterns. By using color, scaling, orientation, and motion graphics connections and patterns between numbers become easier to visualize, grasp, and act upon. the eyes ability to discern variations in color, shape, position, or pattern.

Visually you can hold the concept of conflicting points of views, that can be difficult to to balance when the information is verbalized. You know the one about – you are only listening for your moment to talk.

Create an Infographic Landscape

Data rich infographics create a visual landscape that your eyes can explore.

But you first need to be a data detective who can recognize hidden patterns. By first asking the right questions, or working the data in a particular way can create unexpected relationships. And if that doesn’t work. Ask different questions, or hire a data detective to interpret your dense data requirements.

Infographics can help your staff, students, clients, or colleagues navigate dense information. Infographics can change perspective when relative numbers are used.

The other aspect of Infographics is that they are often a living document. Recall, most people will interact with your infographics online, or during a presentation, training – that happens mostly in a paperless work environment. When infographics are connected to a live database – the results are always changing  – the information being presented is different – the visualization output is never the same.

A sense of uncontrolled skepticism has arrived with the overload and saturation of information. Along with a distrust from the collapse of reliability sources. And the fact that much of the information is boring. There is no magical magnetic force that draws people into decoding a well constructed spreadsheet.

Data Visualization – For more information

REVIEW: What Motivates

Do you love your job? I do.

I understand what motivates me. And which tasks that do not. In the following speech by Dan Pink (author) the idea that people can be motivated by more than money. So, to be motivated everyone has to be paid fairly. When people approach a project without having to think about the money aspect. The performance level is increased. New and better results are achieved. Production levels are improved.

Asheville Computer Training what motivates.

"Pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table." - Dan Pink (speech)

As Dan Pink shared in his presentation (speech). When people are encouraged to be creative – they may experience autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

  1. Autonomy. The desire to be self directed.
  2. Mastery. Challenge to master a task.
  3. Purpose. Make a Contribution.

People want to do something interesting. To create. To build. To take an idea and develop it into a tangible project.

As people we create – that is something we all do (in our own way) we all create. Everyone has a task that they are simply very good at. Within this task there will always be a presence of your own creativity.  For our creativity to be of worth it has to contribute.

Hidden creativity serves no purpose. Hidden creativity does nothing to make us a better person. To be creative is to accept the challenge to master a task that directly contributes back to your community (to whatever your community may be).

RSA Review Series by Gary Crossey.

VIDEO: How is Technology Transforming Education?

Asheville Computer Training - Tech for Granted

Interesting point of view on how technology is taken for granted by the era born into it. It is difficult for me to think of not being able to flip a switch and have the lights come on. However, for my grandparents, that was something new in their lifetime.

This modern idea of being able to connect with anyone else in the world (who has access to the internet) is an entirely new era of digital technology in education and life.