5 BEFORE THE WORKSHOP
Find a place where you can work comfortable with all your storytellers. A room that they already know can be a good idea, as this helps you to create a safe space. You will need tables and chairs for each storyteller and enough space to do energizers or to sit in a circle. It is also an advantage to have a quiet space where the participants can relax or draw back during the workshop and it is furthermore important to have a quiet room for the voice recording.
Many storytellers need a separate, quiet place where they can relax during the workshop or draw back after the demanding work they are doing in the workshop. Arrange a room where you can safely leave your storyteller to relax for a while.
It’s good to have white and colored paper, pens, crayons, colored pencils, whiteboard markers when using a whiteboard, scissors, glue and postcards for the creative work. As an extra you may have for example musical instruments, wadding, waste material such as goods for clothing, leather, wool, newspapers, different objects from nature (wood, flowers, stones etc.) and other creative materials for the participants to create visuals and audio.
First of all your storytellers need a device to work on, preferably a laptop or a tablet. It should be able to handle an editing programme without breaking down. For some participants in our target group it’s an advantage to work on a tablet, as the direct contact to the screen is easier to access, whereas others might be used to work with a PC. It’s also doable to work on a smart phone if nothing else is available, but it of course requires some fine motor skills, as the screen is smaller.
All participants need an editing program installed on their device. As this is such a fast-developing area, we suggest that you spend a little time researching what is best to the specific device right now. iMovie is for example a good option on Macs and iPads right now, but in a couple of years there might be a new and better option. The most important is that the editing program should be simple to use, easy to get and preferably free. Be aware that many free options has a watermark when you export the video, try to avoid these programs.
In case you are not very familiar with digital devices or editing programs, you should be well prepared for the workshop by making a couple of stories by yourself. Basic skills are enough. If possible, it is always nice to have a person who is good with technical issues in your workshop. Read more about editing in chapter 6 on the building bricks (brick 8).
Each participant needs a pair of headphones as it has to be fairly quiet in the workshop room, for people to concentrate. You also need one set for yourself, to be able to hear the audio of the films. It is also very important to have a split stick which connects two headphones, as it makes it possible for you to listen to the story at the same time as your storyteller, and thus eases the feedback process for you.
Projector and speakers
For the screening, you will need a projector. Take your time to learn how to use it in advance, and always check if it works properly before you begin the screening. You of course also need a white smooth wall or a white canvas to project to and at least one good speaker. Again, take your time to learn how to connect the speakers and how they work.
If the participants are not working on a tablet, it is a good idea to have a smartphone for taking pictures and recording sounds for the story.
You will need a microphone to record the voice-over, alternatively use a smartphone or tablet, which can record in really good quality. This can in some cases even feel better for the storyteller, as it’s a tool many people use in their everyday life. Just make sure to test it first, to see how the sound quality is. Read more about the voice-over recording in chapter 6 on the building bricks (brick 5).
The process chart shows where the participants are in the process and it follows the building bricks. It’s both helpful for you as a facilitator, as you can keep an overview of where the participants are, but it’s also a strong tool for the storytellers, who gets a sense of moving forward and the motivation from that. They get a confirmation that they are successful with their work and they often feel very proud when they can tick off a task. It is an advantage to use pictograms as well as text in the process chart, for those who cannot read or need pictorial support to understand the different phases of the story work.
Number of facilitators
It is different from situation to situation how many facilitators there should be per storyteller. Some storytellers will need one to one facilitation, as they need their facilitator to aid them in many things, and sometimes these storytellers will have a personal helper around them at all times, who can then step in when needed. If it’s a resourceful group there can be up to 6 participants per facilitator, but we always recommend that you are at least two facilitators in a workshop, as it is important to have support in some situations.
Many facilitators will probably find themselves in a situation where they are too few to be around all storytellers, all the time. It is therefore important to find tasks which the storytellers can do on their own, and it is a good idea to establish groups where the storytellers are able to help each other. The facilitator might also consider to ask friends or relatives to help with the workshop, but it is very important to underline that it is the storytellers’ story and that they should keep ownership of it by doing so much as they can themselves.
The amount of time our target group is able to work per day varies a lot, some might be able to work 30 minutes before needing a break, some have a longer concentration span. It is of course also different from organization to organization how much time per week there will be to implement the workshop. The programme is therefore consisting of building bricks which can be fitted to the concentration span and the abilities of your storytellers and to the existing schedule of your organization.
We have experienced that spending a few hours every day in around two weeks is a suitable amount of time for a workshop, but you might need shorter or longer time. Only remember that it is important to have enough time for your storytellers, to help them feel comfortable and to ensure the highest degree of agency to their side. We also recommend that the workshop is not spread over a long time period, as it might be difficult for the participants to remember their work and what they have done, if too much time passes in between.
How do I find my participants and how do I prepare them?
Everyone is able to take part in a Digital Storytelling workshop, no matter what abilities they possess. It varies how much the participants can do themselves, and therefore it is, as before mentioned, crucial that you know your storyteller well before the workshop, so you can choose the right building bricks and find a balance between challenging and up-skilling and knowing when to help.
It is of course crucial that the storyteller is willing to participate by their own choice. Depending on the legislation of the country you're in, you might also need consent from legal guardians. In any case, it is important to inform both participants and close family members thoroughly about the workshop before it takes place. Here the easy-to-read manual for people with ID can be helpful, as it explains what is going to happen in the process. Always prepare the participants for the group work: talk about cooperation with other participants, respecting others, listening to others, receiving and giving feedback and other social rules in general.
Make sure that your participants have the time needed for the workshop, so that they don’t have to stop half way through.
As described earlier, it is utterly important that all participants in the workshop are treated individually based on their particular abilities and disabilities. It is difficult to conclude whether to work with a fairly homogeneous group of participants or not, there are pros in doing both. The homogeneous group makes the group work easier. It makes it easier to plan a workshop if the concentration span among the participants is fairly similar, it increases the chance that no one gets bored because they are too far behind or too far ahead and it is easier for the facilitator to handle the sharing situations if there is a similar level of understanding. On the other hand, you cannot overestimate the many benefits of meeting people who are different than yourself.
DS is a group process and the group is indeed an essential element of the process, as it is important also for people with ID to practice their cooperation skills. But as we work with people with special needs, and often need one to one facilitation, it can be necessary to work with only a small group. This of course also depends on the resources available in your organisation.