Storytellers and Coders United
Sandra Gaudenzi

flickr photo by ssoosay shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Exploring New Ways of Making Meaning

A Common Thread in Open Courses

As contexts collapse in online spaces our identities emerge. The digital has come to dominate this egress of self. Exploring how storytelling and coding come together is an important pathway at #mozfest. I am so excited to follow the work of Sandra Gaudenzi and others. They have pushed the boundaries of storytelling for over 17 years.

However I am in the scaling participating learning pathway so I won’t be able to attend these sessions. My focus for #mozfest is open courses. Yet in many ways story telling and learning pathways travel the same avenue. The same bricks of human experience pave our roads. In fact much of what we know about scaling learning developed first in spaces exploring story telling.

Example stories from DS106


Digital Storytelling 106, an open class from University of Mary Washington. It began in 2010 under the tutelage of Jim Groom. In 2013 the class ran with no teacher. Quite well actually. Since its founding 50,000 stories have been shared and aggreagated from bloggers across the globe.

Some of the most creative people I know got their start in DS106. We gifified the world long before the Slack, buzzfeeds, and Twitters of the world. DS106 is the web. It does not use the web.

flickr photo shared by . .Jef Safi. . under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Rhizomatic Learning

Rhizomatic Learning, another open course, explores learning through a discovery story based approach. Started by Dave Cormier, who you can blame for the term MOOC, it was meant to be massive not in size but in openness. The courses were meant to be Massively Open. This just requires one person.

I share it here because #Rhizo15 takes a narrative approach to learning. We began the class by defining our subjectives, recognizing the myth of objectivity in education.

My subjective focused on the work I was doing with Laura Hilliger at the time in terms of leadership and learning. It was about this time that Mark Surman started to explore the idea of a Mozilla Academy. I wanted to discover what makes a leader and a learner.

CC By-SA Gilad


#Walkmyworld is another open online learning experience that focuses on digital storytelling. Specifically it explored how our digital identities emerge in online social media and how our multiple “Me’s” get shaped through multimodality.

WalkMyWorld actually evolved from a five year digital poetry project that explored the works of different Poet Laureates from the United Staes. After exploring the work of Robert Hass we decided to fork the project.

Now in #walkmyworld we have focused on how meaning making shifts with new tools and social media. We work with many pre-service teachers exploring how they project themselves on to the world as their contexts collapse and their social media presence shifts from adolescents to adulthood.

We worked with 1st year students (Kindergarten) students in Australia. Many whom come from indigenous populations. They compared tattoos on their parents, and annotate the lyrics of Tupac Shakur.

My Personal Journey

Across these learning spaces I have tried to hone my skills as a visual storyteller. This has included trying to remix what it means to publish academic writing, or remixing the academic writings of others like Rick Beach and Donna Alvermann or James Paul Gee.

Storytellers Need Coders

I am excited to see a deliberate connection to devs and meaning makers. We need each other. Specifically we need tools to let us tell stories in new ways and then also to share those stories.

I could not make many of the digital stories shared in this article. Most of the tools have long been mothballed. Please lets build cool shit together. I want to quickly remix images, videos, texts, and gifs. Lots of gifs.

Also help us with syndication. Check out how syndicates materials we want that. That just uses the FeedWordpress plug-in..but even that bar is too high. Be nice if we could just add links to RSS feeds in a spreadsheet, add a hashtag, then pop into a magical whizbang machine and have something pretty pop out.

Storytellers and Coders need Teachers

Teaching writing is hard. Almost as hard as writing. Probably harder. In fact you can not teach writing without being a writer. Digital storytelling is no different.

We have learned a lot about teaching digital storytelling. Feel free to reach out and remix the knowledge base.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.