INTE 5340: Week Eight

Learning With Digital Stories: A Final Portfolio

Learning With Digital Stories. An interactive, connected, online course. A fun-filled, action-packed thrill ride that changes the way we look at the modern world. Pictures, videos, artifacts. Documenting, preserving, connecting, blogging, and remixing. And all the while, trying to answer one simple question:

How and why is it important for you to tell stories?

40,000 years ago, the first cave paintings made their way into the caves of Indonesia, telling stories of animals and war, of life and death.


5,000 years ago, the Sumerians of Mesopotamia began to etch symbols in cuneiform into clay, recording thoughts, ideas, and numbers.


3,000 years ago, Greek scripts traveled all across Europe, spreading ideas like wildfires.


500 years ago, the first lead pencils were manufactured in England, allowing writing on paper to become a reality.


200 years ago, the first camera captured a partially successful photo in France, forever transforming the way we preserve images.


150 years ago, the typewriter was invented in Wisconsin, making the writing process quick, neat, and easy.


40 years ago, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak released the Apple I, the first computer with a single-circuit board.


30 years ago, the Internet was born, allowing us to access and share information beyond anything we ever imagined.


12 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, a social media platform that revolutionized the way we connect with each other.

facebook logo 4

And 10 years ago, the first iPhones and Androids hit the market, giving us the power to document anything and publish it to the world with the touch of a finger.


So why did we go through all this effort? Why did early humans draw pictures on the walls? Why did we start taking photographs of each other? Why did modern humans feel it was important to write, type, and share? How and why is it important for you to tell stories?

To remember and be remembered.

To put something into written or visual form is to preserve an event well beyond its lifetime. Without recording it, we run the risk of forgetting something, and suddenly, everything becomes less meaningful. This is why we tell stories. Whether you’re telling your significant other about your day, or reminiscing in memories with friends, or posting pictures of your travels on Instagram, you are telling a story, and you are preserving memories of events in your life. And when you unleash these stories into the modern world of the digital, they’re forever engrained in history.


Technology has evolved across the centuries, but one thing remains the same.

We all want to tell a story.

We all want to leave our mark here on the earth, because we are individuals with identities, and we all have stories to tell.

Eight weeks ago, I didn’t understand why people felt the need to post on social media all the time. Now, I don’t understand people who refuse to post on social media. As an entry-level photographer, I know this better than ever before. To take a photograph is to preserve a memory forever at the touch of a button. And whether it’s for the memory of it, or to get a bunch of likes on Facebook, or to just have them somewhere out there, one thing remains the same. We are all telling a story. When I have photos to look back on, it helps me remember things in my life I might otherwise have forgotten, and being able to see them with my own eyes makes my life feel all the more significant. This is the power of digital stories. This is why I tell my story.

So what kinds of digital stories can we find out there anyway? What is there to see? Here’s what I found in the world of photography, which I chose for my story critiques.

In Week Three, I discovered how a father turned ordinary moments magical with the power of photography.

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In Week Five, I witnessed a stunning time-lapse video capturing Iceland’s natural beauty.

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In Week Six, I explored the power of iPhoneography to capture summer adventures.

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And in Week Seven, I figured out how to become a master iPhoneographer once and for all.

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Now that we’ve seen others’ stories, how do we begin telling our own? By first finding our voice. And this is what our course readings have been all about.

In Week One, we did a survey of new literacies with Colin Lankshear and Michelle Knobel, and learned that new literacies encompass participation, collaboration, and widespread distribution, sometimes in the form of new technology.

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In Week Four, we explored blogging as a way of forging a digital identity and publishing it for others to see.

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And in Week Seven, we topped everything off with Monica Nilsson, who urged the importance of using your own voice in writing.

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When we tell stories, we forge our identities, both through what we tell and how we tell them. Take my DS106 Assignment Bank Artifacts, for example. 

My first assignment represents both my outlook on life and my upcoming career as an urban teacher. Seeing beauty in a thunderstorm, or seeing hope in the face of adversity, are what keep us strong throughout so many hardships. 

Eye of the Storm
DS106 Visual Assignment, Eye of the Storm

It’s one of many visual artifacts that help to forge my identity. Others tell the story of my visit to New Belgium Brewing…

DS106 Visual Assignment, New Perspectives at New Belgium

…or of my travels to Paris, France.

DS106 Visual Assignment, Simplicité

But what good are my stories if I can’t share them with others?

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DS106 Video Assignment, Army Vacation

And what good is my work if I can’t communicate with others on it?

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Telling my stories and forging my identity was something I was passionate enough about, but knowing that others would see them, and respond to them, made them that much more special.

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Peer-to-peer interactions made all the difference.

Finding out that someone had retweeted a sentence from my very first reading response totally gave me a huge self-esteem boost…

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A positive response from a member of my small group motivated me to keep telling my story…

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…and I even found out through Twitter that one of my classmates was in Paris at the exact same time I was!

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So telling my story was only part of the equation. Sharing it with others was what made my experience complete. And just like Remi said in his screencast with Jacqui…

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So tell your story. Create your digital identity. Share it. This was a burning question to me at the beginning of the course, but I think I understand why we post on social media now.

Because our lives are significant, and they deserve to be documented.

Learning With Digital Stories: A Final Reflection

July is coming to an end, and things are winding down in Learning With Digital Stories. I’ve never done so much work in my life and I can’t believe it’s finally over.

Pretty much how I’m feeling right about now.

These last eight weeks have been some of the most exhausting, but most transformative weeks of my life. I couldn’t hope to cover everything that I learned in one single reflection, but I can start with the basics.

Me as a learner in this course. I started reading when I was three years old, which is considered super early. As a child, I read tons of books out loud and I had the pronunciation of words and the flow of sentences on lock. But the older I got, the more I realized that I wasn’t actually understanding the reading material, whether I was reading for class or just for fun. Every time I tried to learn something by reading about it, I just couldn’t retain the information. In fact, every time I read the textbook for a class, I did worse, and every time I put the textbook aside and focused on doing the work, I did better. By the time I finished college, it was clear that I don’t learn by reading. But when I took this course, I realized that I don’t have to. Unlike all the other courses I took as an undergrad, this course isn’t based solely upon reading, and that’s what I love about it. Reading from A New Literacies Sampler was only a fraction of the experience in the class that I can only describe as “learning by doing.” Twitter, Hypothesis, and DS106 changed everything. Getting to connect with others, share ideas, and summarize key points from the reading allowed me to push forward and produce artifacts that helped me understand the power of creative work.

My co-design in this course. Learning With Digital Stories is a course unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was the first time I’d ever seen DS106, the first time I’d made public annotations with Hypothesis, and the first time I’d learned how to use emojis on my MacBook because I was tired of switching to Twitter on my phone. It’s the first class where I was encouraged to blog using my own voice, rather than write a paper using APA format. And while I made videos, artwork, and digital stories in my previous graduate teacher licensure classes, none were as imaginative as the work I did in this class. The course is unique because it offers enough structure to keep us on track, but enough flexibility to allow us to be creative. We accomplished the same set of assignments every week, but having each of us explored different focal themes, we produced vastly different artifacts, and the results were beautiful. It was this course where I discovered just how far connected learning can take you, and how you can use social media as a resource to fuel your educational experience.

My understanding of pedagogy. Gone are the days where the teacher gets up in front of the room and gives a lecture while writing on the board. Learning is doing, and Remi and Lisa made sure we did as much as possible in this course. Whether you use fancy technology or not, the best classroom experiences come from participating in the lesson, producing creative work, and collaborating with others. If there’s anything I learned about new literacies this summer, it was this, and it has changed our perspective of the classroom as we know it. I hope that the kids of this generation will no longer picture this when they hear the word “classroom”…


…and will instead picture this.


Because in a real classroom, everyone gets to participate, everyone gets to collaborate, and everyone gets to learn. Plus, don’t these chairs look like so much fun?!!?!

Looking back, I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve produced some amazing artifacts that are forever preserved in the weekly cubes of this blog, and taken incredible photos that will not only serve as lifetime memories, but also as a way of sharing my experiences with the world through all kinds of social media platforms that I’d never given much thought to before this class. This class has literally changed the way I see technology and social interaction, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where that takes me both as a person and as an educator.

© Emily Joan Wu

Teacher Candidate | Math
University of Colorado Denver
INTE 5340 | Summer 2016


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