Several of my posts recently have been about sites that offer opportunities for families to collaboratively publish stories, and read other peoples' stories online. So far, I've talked about Glogster, Notaland, MakeBeliefsComix, PhotoPeach, and Myths and Legends. These web spaces provide a platform for people young and old, those with a mastery of English and those who are aiming for it. They allow us to manipulate text, images and sound to create stories. Why do those sites excite me so much?
For a start, they're fun and engaging for kids. They can learn new skills that will help them negotiate their way around the web. The sites encourage them to develop text to put with other types of communication - and that means reading and writing, two of my favourite pursuits! I don't think anyone would argue that a child's ability to read and write is closely linked to his successful education.
It's important to seek out authentic audiences for our communications. Yet it can be difficult to find avenues for story-making, especially in the case of those who are learning English as a second language, or who are just beginning to master communication skills because of age or disability. Are you old enough to remember the days when we kids would "do a composition" in our books? Input was probably "Write a story about a day at the beach." Nowadays kids are being taught the skills real writers use, including to think about audience when they communicate. How much more motivating it is to compose text for a slideshow you can send to your best friend at school, so she can see your holiday photos and read about what you did.
I'm also excited because these sites allow us to engage with text. We don't want our kids to be passive readers, or passive watchers. When we're engaged with text, we're thinking and feeling, reacting and making judgments. Many of the sites allow us to combine visual texts like images or maps with caption text and music. Others, like the Center for Digital Storytelling, serve as a collection point for stories in video formats. M.S.K Running is an example of one from the Center that touched my heart.
Perhaps most importantly, online publishing sites like these give a voice to young people and allow them to reach out to a global audience. By sharing their stories, they enable us to gain a greater understanding of some of the problems facing kids today. By sharing their stories, I believe young people contribute to making our world a better place, and help to shape their own futures.
That's the deal with online publishing!
Photo courtesy PhotoXpress.com