I recently led a Teaching with Technology workshop to introduce faculty to free, online digital storytelling tools that can enhance presentations with maps, timelines, and and narrative data content. You can download my PowerPoint presentation via Slideshare, which includes information about data visualization, images from the University of Victoria’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute that I attended this June, information about several tools for digital storytelling projects, and links to example projects. We focused on three tools–StoryMapJS, TimelineJS, and OdysseyJS–which I will introduce here in a series of three blog posts.
StoryMapJS is a product of Northwestern University’s Knight Lab–a joint initiative of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications. The Knight Lab designs open-source tools with journalists and news organizations in mind, but all of their products have enormous potential value for professors and students working in many disciplines.
Many mapping tools exist, but most lack the ability to incorporate narrative elements in a visual and complementary way. StoryMapJS does just that, and to aesthetically pleasing ends! Users can plot points on a map and link those locations with a narrative trajectory, incorporating images, text, and video to tell the story. In just ten minutes, I worked with a fellow classmate in my DHSI course to create the beginnings of a StoryMap based on her dissertation research. Check out some great finished examples here. The platform is easy to use, with no coding knowledge required! Later I will show you OdysseyJS, which takes beginners to the next level and introduces some coding elements.
A slightly more advanced option for StoryMapJS is Gigapixel, which affords the ability to use high-resolution images and historical maps in place of the standard map. Just for fun, here’s a Gigapixel example charting Arya’s Journey on Game of Thrones, using a “historical” map of Westeros.
Karen Gonzalez Rice envisions making StoryMaps to introduce her students in Art History to the different units of her courses, mapping a trajectory of the course over time and space, with representative images of corresponding artistic styles. Reference Librarian Ashley Hanson would like to use StoryMapJS to present the history of yoga and the ways it spread from its origin throughout the world. Any student projects that have narrative and geographical components could make use of StoryMapJS as an alternative to PowerPoint presentations.