by Bryan Alexander (Praeger, 2011)
I’m reading this comprehensive new book by Bryan Alexander, which covers the history and multiple use of digital storytelling. In it, he talks about the first time he and his colleagues developed and offered a DS class at their college. A classic critical divide appeared almost instantly: the old chestnut that the classroom should or should not include autobiographical material.
“First, some faculty argued that while they wanted to create a digital story, the content should not be personal in nature. Indeed, more than a few professors were adamant about removing themselves from narratives. ‘I care about teaching African politics,’ one told me, ‘not teaching about my own interest in the subject.’ Second, others evoked C. P. Snow’s two cultures model, arguing that the CDS [Center for Digital Storytelling] curriculum was really suited only to the humanities, as the home of expressive art in academia; personal storytelling could not map well onto the hard, quantitatively based science. In response, we shifted our class focus slightly, welcoming ‘both personal and impersonal’ stories to our ‘multimedia narrative’ workshop. So far, the two coexist quite well, with stories of self-discovery appearing alongside explorations of molecular processes.”