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Three-panel comic about three roles someone plays: a career consultant, yoga instructor, and "cat mom." Full comic text in the teaching tip.

Digital Storytelling and Community-Building: Self-Introductions in the Online Classroom

Mon Nov 19, 2018 at 07:30 AM

See full panel text at the bottom of this teaching tip.

In an online classroom, the introduction forum presents an opportunity to connect with others, explore the topic, and practice with the technology. As the instructor, post your own 3-frame strip to introduce yourself and provide an example. Recommending that they spend no more than 20 minutes, assign students to post their introductions using StoryboardThat to make a 3-frame strip--being as creative as they want!

Students should create a strip that:

  • Introduces themselves or their alter-ego (what they do outside school)
  • Tells everyone else why they are interested in the topic of study in the class
  • And/or poses their top question / main concern about the topic

This is one example of how digital storytelling helps everyone get to know each other and promotes community-building before participating in the online course activities and assignments. 

This self-introduction strategy can be used in any class format as part of a welcome message to students prior to the beginning of a semester or a personable addition to your course syllabus.

References and Resources

Create your storyboard with the free version of StoryboardThat website

Read a case study about the use of digital comics in learning environments

Read an example of digital storytelling in the higher ed classroom

Watch this YouTube video about meaningful play and/or this TED Talk about how gaming can make a better world.

Save and adapt a Google Doc version of this teaching tip.

About the Author

Jess Tess-Navarro is an OU alumnae working as an instructional designer at e-Learning and Instructional Support at OU. She previously worked as a Career Consultant in the OU Career Services office. Prior, she spent two years as a special lecturer in the Writing & Rhetoric Department teaching partially-online gen ed courses for first-year students, incorporating service-learning. Jess is interested in any and all teaching strategies that increase student motivation, engagement, and success. Most recently, she has been exploring gamification and the use of game dynamics in adult learning environments.  Outside of the classroom, she teaches yoga and practices martial arts.

Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC.

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StoryboardThat Example: Full Text

Back to image

[Panel 1 Title:] College career consultant by day…

Student: I don’t know what I want to do with my life!

Consultant: Me neither! JK. I’ve got some tools that can help. (Thought bubble: Please tell me you’re not coming to us at the last min before you graduate)

[Panel 2 Title:] Yoga instructor by night…

Student: Wow! A yoga instructor? You must be such a chill person all the time!

Instructor: (Thought bubble: Actually, I do this because I’m trying to be less nuts....)

[Panel 3 Title:] 24/7 dog and cat mom!

Mom: I’m always covered in pet hair!

Cat 1: I sit on all the soft things

Cat 2: If I’m quiet I’m getting into trouble

Dog: I wish I was an only child