Student-produced multimedia provides students with the opportunity to learn about technology, express themselves through creativity, and showcase their work to a larger audience. Student-produced multimedia provides teachers with an efficient way to integrate technology into an established curriculum, design inquiry-based lesson plans, and assess student learning without having to use traditional tests. One type of student-produced multimedia is digital storytelling, which incorporates images, audio, video, text, and image effects. When creating a digital story, students develop the skills necessary to research, playwright, design, produce, and educate (Chung, 2007). Digital storytelling integrates the arts, education, local communities, technology, and storytelling. According to Chung (2007), students develop and apply multi-literacy skills, aesthetic sensitivities, and critical faculties to address greater issues of importance to a larger audience. Digital storytelling is applicable for all school subjects, but as Chung (2007) points out, many schools in America have ample funds for maintaining a computer lab while funds for art supplies are either minimal or non-existent. The implementation of digital storytelling offers art educators another avenue to implement an innovative and relevant art program for the technology-savvy digital generation (Chung, 2007).
One sample of podcasting in elementary schools comes from Jamestown Elementary: To align the podcasts with the curriculum, the teachers created handouts to help students produce their individual segments about a historical person or event from the Jamestown settlement. The students could create their segments in different ways – as ‘am interview, a report, a poem, a word play, a skit, a Did you Know segment, or any other creative way to of communicating what you know and have learned’ (Long, 2007). Producing podcasts can help students identify their strengths and help them to showcase their talents while working together in groups to produce a product that can be viewed worldwide. By producing podcasts in groups, the creative writers record poetry, stories, or skits; the artists provide drawings or photography; musicians produce songs; and the technicians piece it all together (Long, 2007).
Digital storytelling is an example of a constructivist approach, which puts interactive technologies in the hands of student producers. According to Brown (2007) when students are given creative freedom to construct with multimedia tools in an activity that is personally meaningful, they exhibit high levels of motivation and task engagement, develop skills through directed and needs driven episodes, exhibit higher order thinking, and individual differences are valued, accentuated, and expressed through interface design. One approach to designing student produced multimedia for web based classrooms is to use competency-based learning (CBL), which is self-directed, individual, and a mastery learning method allowing students to achieve predetermined competency standards with the master knowledge and skills that they have learned (Chang, 2007). According to Chang, since web learning has recently gained much attention in college, CBL on the Web has a certain level of demand and feasibility.