Learning from a Prolific Digital Storyteller About How to Create Aesthetic Learning Experiences

This week, my Digital Storytelling class was focused around Creative Culture and creating aesthetic learning experiences. We were introduced to Michael Wesch and incredible way of telling stories. If you are an educator or learning designer, take a look at Wesch’s productions and his strategies for teaching. The following are two of his productions, my take-aways and thoughts about leveraging creative-culture and digital storytelling for teaching and learning. 

To Live in this World

Michael Wesch production of To Live in this World was very moving. When I first saw the title I had no idea what I was going to expect until I saw the description during the first 10 seconds of the video. As I continued watching I noticed how drawn I had become to the stories being told. Wesch chose to compress various lifetimes told by residents of a continued care retirement community which explored the meaning and significance of  what it is to live in this world.

I enjoyed watching this short video and appreciated Wesch’s choices for delivering an aesthetic learning experience. For me, seeing a young couple portraying the various life experiences told by our elder society kept my attention. I was present during the entire video. This innovative way of teaching/learning is exactly what I hope to implement when delivering training. Wesch used our capabilities for capturing real-life moments and created a video that appeared relevant and appealed to most people today.

World Simulation 2013: Marshmallow Wars

I really enjoy seeing activities like the one Michael Wesch did for his world history students. Getting students to participate in an immersive activity like a marshmallow war to teach about world history, global economy, sustainability, international relations, culture change, and structural power is much more meaningful. Wesch chose an innovative/creative way to teach via roleplaying. I’m not entirely sure who was recording but I appreciate being a part of the action and seeing how each group made decisions throughout the activity. It was clear the students were engaged and based on their dialogue with other students, it was evident they were understanding the topics being taught. 

Wesch doesn’t just teach the content required in his curriculum, he makes sure it is significant. He understands that there’s a problem in most classrooms – students struggle to find meaning and significance in their education. Unfortunately, we continue to hear “not all students are cut out for learning.” This is simply not true. The traditional way of teaching is not flexible enough to engage students.

I hope that we, as instructors and learning designers, continue to remind ourselves to break from the traditional teaching methods and instead focus on engaging learners. We should take an example from young learners and open our minds to see infinite solutions, answers, and possibilities. We all have this capacity, unfortunately, is has deteriorated as we sit in traditional classrooms being taught to fit the mold and think a certain way.

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