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Collection: Multimedia

Purple arrow (1137 bytes)Traditional Native Storytelling Using Computer-Based Multimedia

REFERENCE: Jacobsen, M. and Bilan, B. J. (1993). Traditional Native Storytelling Using Computer-Based Multimedia. The Writing Notebook, 10 (3), 8-10.

PRODUCTS: HyperCard, MacPaint, QuickTime


Description of classroom practice:

CONTEXT: Nine artistically talented youths of Cree cultural heritage ranging in age from 10-17 were brought together in a rustic setting for a four-day workshop. Their goal was to publish interactive multimedia versions of their traditional Native stories . The students all understood Bushland Cree and some spoke Cree at home, but only about half spoke it fluently. Three teachers drove a carload of computers to a northern community in Alberta and pitched camp (teepees for the students, cabins for main writing and meeting area at night and for cooking.) The computers were set up at the local high school.

PRACTICE: The first two days were spent in an open and sharing environment "telling stories with elders from the community, drawing pictures with local artists and writing." In the evenings everyone gathered in a teepee listening to legends told in Cree. The students then went back to worksites to write, revise and draw, using flashlights and gaslight when darkness came. While many of the boys were too shy to tell stories, they did later write about a legend or story they had heard from relatives and others. The text of each student's story was written in English, but to honor their Native culture and traditions and to share with others when they returned to their communities, they narrated their stories in Cree. During the second two days, students worked in the microcomputer lab at the local school. They had use of ten Macintosh computers, a scanner, laser printer, video camera, and a video capture board. Software included HyperCard 2.1 to support audio and QuickTime movies. On the third morning the students were taught the basics of using a Mac and HyperCard, which they took to readily, often asking each other for help. Drawings were completed and, to save time, digitized and imported into MacPaint that evening by staff. (This process, as well as teaching students how to include video in their stories, are goals for the next workshop.) On the fourth day they transferred the skills they had learned in HyperCard to learn and use MacPaint, thereby illustrating their HyperCard stacks. They added sound clips and narrated the stories in Cree.


The authors note that this interactive, multimedia format serves as a tool to learn more about one's culture and to create a "cultural repository" which can include stories, legends and biographies, cooking and crafts, singing and dancing which illustrate the students' cultural heritage. It can be a multidisciplinary project that "honors and preserves (a) community's culture, language, and traditions." The authors anticipate repeating the workshop. They would include instruction to the students in digitizing and importing drawings as well as how to include video in their stories. They make recommendations for related multimedia projects.

Michele Jacobsen completing her B.Ed./B.A. at the University of Calgary and is studying HyperCard applications in the classroom.

Bohdan J. Bilan is a doctoral student at the University of Calgary & particularly interested in applications of computer technology for second language instruction.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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