Thane Williams knows the value of a plan! From the moment people began to settle in at his TCEA workshop on digital storytelling, he explained the purpose of our session and the reason for our schedule:

We were going to select digital images, cut and move items to create new images, learn how to quickly repair or enhance the pieces we chose, and then place the pieces into a separate image. We were going to learn how take control of digital components and then use them to create a story. And we were going to end up with completed projects and time to spare.

Our session started promptly and we were given both a disk filled with samples and a tutorial section to use in case we forgot what we were being shown. We were also given a step by step handout to guide our efforts.

We began by opening the information and becoming familiar with the Adobe feature layout. We received a brief explanation for most features. Thane explained that we would learn a little about audio use and timelines, and a good deal about time management. He also explained that software version features may vary. Our lesson was designed to be repeated with little stress, regardless of which version we had in our home or classroom.

Thane teaches Spanish and works with bilingual high school students in the Charleston, S.C., public schools. Many of his students have access to a computer only in the school setting. While they live media-based lives, they have limited resources to feel connected to the power of technology. By using Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, Thane has created a way for his students to build and enhance their academic skill sets by integrating media materials.

Storyboarding is a marketable skill. As students develop confidence, they can take use their educational experiences to enhance other opportunities.

The students are first required to create a storyboard and then seek out the digital information they will need to create their media projects. They create class presentations and work with one another to share ideas and shortcuts. Part of the lesson is to match the action to the intended reaction of the audience.

Our TCEA workshop placed the focus on digital variety, copyright issues, and answering specific concerns regarding student use of the programs. It was clearly important not to let a class lose too much time experimenting with any one feature set. Adobe products offer great variety, and it is possible to spend countless hours playing with a project.

The storyboard allows students to think about their time management and to be held accountable for what they do. It also allows students to explore the software features. The time they spend in making changes provides a valuable lesson.

Armed with an arsenal of program experience, Thane walked us through the use of pan and zoom, capturing screens from video clips, image transitions, audio applications, and the relevance of text placement. He showed us how to set the show timing to match our desired results, and he constantly reminded us to experiment with the features.

Thane is patient and he has a wonderful instructive manner. The workshop was well organized, informative, and great fun. He helped us create a comfort zone with the possibilities of this medium.

Digital storytelling can provide a great way for students to set and share their personal goals. It can help them explore possibilities for their future. The skill set also transfers nicely to other software applications. Empowering students with these tools helps arm them with employable skills. Fellow teachers agreed the workshop was filled with tips and useful information. I look forward to using this information with my students and family members. Digital storytelling is just the beginning.