The story of Saint John’s #bigdatacongress

Storytelling is something that I have always enjoyed. Whether it is reading a novel to elementary students, or crafting a narrative of events that I have been part of, I have always found it useful. It is one of the oldest methods for educators, and is one that I feel is often forgot or under utilized within classrooms. Malcolm Gladwell has to be the pre-eminent example that exemplifies how teaching through stories makes learning more meaningful. When you can provide a real life example of your concept or theory in action, it makes it more tangible and allows the audience to become invested in the material presented.

I don’t think I would have ever seen the value behind the story of the development of Pesto’s Chunky Pasta line, until I heard it told by Malcolm Gladwell. However, it teaches a great lesson about diversity and how the pursuit of one perfect pasta sauce is a fallacy. Not every student learns the same, and not every palate wants a sweet pasta sauce. I reflected on this very lesson when I began my search for a platform that I could use to best illustrate and showcase my story.

In the end I landed on Powtoon and it’s online movie creation service. I chose this as a platform because it allowed me to include a narrative as well as attractive text, transitions and image uploading. In order to tell my story best, I thought I would hand pick a number of tweets to showcase that epitomize the efforts currently underway in New Brunswick to highlight the opportunities that exist, and will be available to them when they graduate high school.

The tweets selected were those that indicated the shift in thinking and the perspective building of the students. Additionally, it utilizes the social software that Bryan Alexander (2006) believes has changed the way students interact with new content. This story is built around the microcontent that is shaping a new narrative. The choice to post this in a blog format encourages students to be a part of the conversation, and initiates a conversation beyond the bricks and mortar of a traditional classroom.

The openness of this platform allows for any and all interested parties or experts to join the conversation. If I were to incorporate this story into my everyday teaching practice, I share this link throughout my different social circles and personally encourage them to add their own perspective on the day. This would further facilitate the conversation I cited in the story, and bring in experts from the region to give their analysis on the future of technology in New Brunswick.
Stephen Downes (2004) highlighted how weblogs are often seen as merely just a collection of personal comments and observations. Including the direct sources and experts that are involved in this actual issue would directly confront that notion and bring validity to both the content and the dialogue that would be taking place on the site.

The true purpose behind this format would be to foster a community of learners, one that encourages students to construct their own meaning of the story they heard, and challenge their own beliefs around the technology sector in New Brunswick. The hope is that the students would question each other and start to develop a keen interest in technology.

Finally, the rationale behind using Powtoon was due to the fact that it allows the integration of audio narration with images and animated text features. Additionally the fact that it is easily uploaded to youtube for embedding and sharing on multiple platforms, as well as the blog makes it a perfect device.




My story: Opportunities are right here at your very doorstep

  1. Brilliant Labs:
    State of the province focuses on natural resource development, job creation and innovation

  2. BigDataCongress: Storify of #BigDataCongress & #T4GBDC2014

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