Project: dialogical semiotics in digital stories

First, some background info and explanation of the audio clip:

I am a GSR for Glynda Hull’s Kidnet project, which examines how youth communicate and construct global/local identities through a closed social networking site ( — it’s very similar to Facebook, with each student having a profile, “friending” capabilities, wall posts, instant chatting, media uploading, etc.). There are research sites in Norway, India, South Africa, Australia, NYC, and Oakland, and the students at these sites create digital stories, video “tours,” still images, artwork, etc. to share online. My site is the newest Oakland site, Oakland Military Institute (if you ever have a chance to visit, you should – it’s a great school with amazing digital resources). My co-instructor and I have now met with our group of 12 high schoolers four times, and they are gearing up to create their own digital stories to post on the site. Their assignment for this upcoming Saturday is to shoot footage for their own digital stories, and in preparation for this assignment, students watched videos from each site. Because we’re interested in our students’ critical thinking processes and their responses to their peers’ media artifacts, Jones (my co-instructor) and I decided to engage them in a K-W-L (What do you already know/What do you want to know/What did you learn) exercise as we watched videos. The audio clip I’m including here is of 2 minutes from our discussion before we viewed a “My Life” digital story from India.

How this relates to my project:

This audio clip illustrates the beginning of the OMI students’ digital story process: viewing examples, generating ideas before and after viewing, and understanding their audience. To be honest, I wish I could fast-forward to Saturday so that I had a clip of my students’ video footage and their director’s cuts (I plan on asking them to explain what they shot and why), because my project really focuses on if/how their videos reveal dialogical engagement with their space2cre8 peers’ videos, and how they (OMI students) construct meaning through these multimodal compositions. For my theoretical framework, I’ll be turning to Bakhtin’s notion of heteroglossia and social semiotics (the van Leeuwen and Jewitt chapter we read provides an overview of social semiotic analysis, and I’ll also refer to some of their other work and Kress’; additionally, Murch and Wingstedt et al. will aid my discussion of semiotic affordances of sound/image in the examined digital stories). Ideally, I would like to offer an overview of OMI students’ composition practices (do they consider other videos when they create their own digital stories? what do they choose to include/omit and why? are their videos explicit responses to others? if so, how is a dialogical relationship made evident?) and offer a semiotic analysis of one of my students’ digital stories.


P.S. I used Audacity to edit this clip, but I’ll be using Final Cut Express in the future. I notice how loud some of the background noises are — any pointers/tips on how to decrease those would be appreciated!

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About jmhiggs

I'm a first-year PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program in the Graduate School of Education. I enjoy documenting the ordinary and extraordinary with photographs, an activity made ever easier with the multitude of technologies available nowadays!