Julie Sondra Decker 2014

Julie Sondra Decker 2014


There are many on-line tools and apps that young people can use to build their biography.  Although the terms ‘vocational autobiography’, ‘portfolio’, ‘digital narrative’ and ‘digital story’ might all imply something different in terms of their content or context, they can all make use of very similar tools and will need similar skills to create.


storytelling-and-digital-media-1-638There are no ‘best’ tools or ‘best’ approaches – each young person will have different interests and different capabilities.  Some of the things you will need to find out are:

  • what ICT skills do they have?
  • are they interested in learning more ICT skills or do they just want to work with what they have?
  • will they need specialist help to develop the ICT skills they need or can they learn from tutorials?
  • are they going to work on a mobile device or on a lap top or desk top machine? (some tools work better on a mobile or might not work at all on a lap top or vice versa)
  • imgreswill they always / sometimes /never working on line (some tools are native apps, some are only available on-line)
  • what access to hardware and connectivity will they have between sessions?
  • are they mainly interested in telling their story using images? video? audio? text? cartoons? a mixture? (many of the tools allow you to use all these file types but some are more suited to one of them)
  • are they intending to make their work public or keep it private (some tools that can be used for creating autobiographies cannot be kept private if you use the free version)
  • what is their general standard of literacy and comprehension? (some tools are simple and intuitive drag-and-drop; others depend on reading written instruction or text menus)
  • do they have any ideas about what they want their finished biography to look like? Not all of their ambitions may be realistic but it is worth checking to see if their ‘vision’ is a completed video covering everything, a ‘collage’-type presentation, something all on one page (like a poster) or a strip cartoon or…..?
  • Can you export the final product to a website such as mydigitalself.0rg or wordpress.org?

All of these will suggest a particular set of tools that may be appropriate and it is worth finding as many of the answers as possible during the first session.

There are several ways of doing this. One might be to have a load of machines already set up with different software that they can play with until they find some they like. If you do this, try and add some random content to each (especially different file types – ’empty’ templates are always very daunting and it’s difficult to see what they might look like when they they are complete.

Alternatively, you could show them some biographies, autobiographies and other examples of ‘stories’ and they can choose the ones they like. You will then have to work backwards and suggest some software that they could use to create something similar.