Advances in technology have provided a completely new medium for literacy. Personal computers and the Internet dramatically increased the amount of information that can be conveniently and quickly accessed. Social networking sites and blogs connect millions of people all over the globe and it is now easier than ever for an individual to share their ideas. Digital literacy, or the understanding of how to use these new mediums available, is extremely important in this digital age.
A key part of capturing an audience is telling a good story. According to Matador Network, stories have the power to entertain us, soothe us, educate us, and inspire their audience to take action. The first step in developing a good story is addressing the “so what” or what you want your audience to take away from your multimedia story. The next steps are collecting information about the topic and constructing a plan for developing the story around the core idea. When outlining a method to develop the story, it is often helpful to ensure your story has a beginning, middle and end. The final step in the story telling process is to review your story, correcting errors in grammar or style.
We adhered to the process of good story telling when creating our group video. We developed our story based on the idea that diversity in higher education is extremely important and that Furman University is actively trying to promote diversity in its student body. However, we stressed that although Furman is succeeding in many ways, there is still room for improvement. We utilized a beginning, middle, and end format in our video as well. We began by explaining the value of diversity in higher education. The middle of the story’s function was to determine how diverse Furman was in reality through interviews with the administration and students. The end of the story concluded that Furman was still struggling with some aspects of diversity, specifically in Greek life, and reiterated the importance of working through these difficulties to achieve a more inclusive environment. While storytelling was also strong in my group podcast, I think it could be improved upon by adding more voiceovers between interview clips to connect them better.
Writing for digital spaces is fundamentally different than writing for print spaces. Individuals have countless options to choose from when looking at digital content and audiences scan, rather than fully read content. If a reader is overwhelmed by too much content or if information is irrelevant or hard to locate, they can move away from a webpage with a single click.
My personal blog used headlines to grab readers’ attention, persuade them to read further, and highlight the main ideas of the story. The writing of my blog was fairly concise, and informed readers of the main point early on. I also chunked information, used lists, and incorporated adequate amounts of white space in order to accommodate scanning in both my blog and personal website. One aspect of usability I would like to improve on is utilizing an inverted pyramid style of writing. My blog posts tended to be a bit long and I could still work on being more concise.
The Next Step
I came into the semester with a very limited understanding of digital literacy. Through my Digital Communication course, I learned, first hand, the best way to take advantage of the new communication mediums and establish a presence online. I also now feel confident using WordPress, Wix, Audacity, iMovie, Adobe Premier Elements, and Adobe Photoshop. I hope to build on my new digital communication skills by continuing to blog and create videos in the future. I know there is always room for improvement, but I am very pleased with my accomplishments thus far.
These skills will prove to be invaluable post graduation as I move into a career in marketing or public relations. Companies are continually seeking innovative individuals who are able to ignite stories and make their brand stand apart through a wide variety of mediums. Thanks to my background in digital communication, I will be able to be competitive in these industries.