Footloose Digital Storytelling at the EFL Showcase 2012 (#efl2012)

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning 2012 Showcase

I had obviously behaved well enough at last year’s showcase in Wales to be invited back for another event from the HEA funded Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Team. This year was at the rather lovely Preston Montford FSC just outside Shrewsbury.

I had mixed feelings about going. Last year’s event had been brilliant but last time I was in Shrewsbury there was an earthquake. Thankfully, this year was fascinating educationally and boring seismically.

The event brings together geographers, geologists, biologists, environmental scientists and the like to share their experiences of enhacing fieldwork through the use of technology.

Now, I don’t do fieldwork (although I do like to get out and about) so my session was mostly about seeding ideas and experimenting. 

This year I chose to focus on “Footloose Digital Storytelling”. I had a morning session to talk about what digital storytelling was and then embarked on a rash plan to get the entire group to film, edit and publish their own digital story using iPads and iPhones (one person used an iPod Touch).

We used the free version of Splice which, although doesn’t have the most features of mobile editing apps, is one of the simplest and suited our purposes really well.

It’s not without its bugs and quirks but in the end the group had created 16 movies and given that they’d only really had an hour to make it I was pretty bowled over.

For the record, I’d never suggest squeezing an actual storytelling session into on hour. It needs time to do it right. This was a bit hit and run and the attendees did really well to cope. One said it had simultaneously been a good experience and hell on earth, which sounds about right.

Originally I’d thought of setting them the task of creating a movie with a specified title but in the end I thought I’d surrender that side of things to them and just asked them to tell their own story of the event. Let many flowers bloom. You can see most of them here but here’s a couple showing the varied approaches.


Mobile devices are not ideal as tools for this sort of thing but it’s still pretty amazing what that you can shoot, edit and share a movie using your phone or tablet. YOUR PHONE!


Pip Hardy likened this to criticising a talking dog. Do you quibble over its accent and vocabulary?

As part of the experiment we discovered that Splice works quite happily without any wifi or 3G connectivity. A couple of the attendees are now considering getting their students to do digital storytelling whilst on field work abroad – I’m eagerly awaiting the results of those.

Coming shortly – my reflections on the rest of the event…

Immersive video on the iP*d – more than just interesting?

Just saw this on the Neiman Journalism Lab blog…

A collaboration between Condition One and The Guardian it’s a slightly more interactive approach to video where you have an element of control over where the camera is looking.

Is it more than just interesting? It would make some intriguing digital stories where the viewer is more actively selecting what elements of the story to view.  

Is it a flavour of AR where the “reality” can be displayed independent of location (picture it with points of interest embedded into the video)? 

Could this be what Google Streetview looks like in a few years’ time?