Media Lab Blog

Digital Storytelling (Beware!)

Yesterday, I gave a presentation about Digital Storytelling to attendees of the Seminar for Excellence in Teaching, hosted by Academy for Teaching and Learning. We watched some digital stories and had some good conversation about digital storytelling. Many thanks to those who participated.

One participant raised the idea that digital stories can be dangerous. It’s an intriguing idea and I think I agree, digital stories can be dangerous in a double-edged-sword kind of way.

The emphasis on point-of-view, and the work done during the process of digital storytelling to refine and focus the storyteller’s perspective, often results in a story that carries the weight of truth. One person’s truth can sometimes be no more than that (and often that is enough in the work of digital storytelling), and other times one person’s voice/story points to larger truths. When confronted with new stories, in order to make sense of them, we classify those stories within larger narratives. It is in these classification decisions, which are made mostly unconsciously, that we find elements of danger.

What do we do with the other’s story? With the other’s truth? Do we dismiss it? Add it as another plank in a platform? Use it to promote agendas? Do we honor it? Learn from it? Deepen our empathy?

Paraphrasing another participant: stories are the oldest and most enduring form of knowledge creation and transmission.

They are powerful tools. Handle with care.



Resources (note: the digital story “Elevator C” is not online)
“They Sold Their Own” Digital story and blog post about an instructor’s in-class experience.

“Pete” Digital story by a scientist.

“Grand Canyon” Digital story about divorce.

“Breathless” Digital story about emergency transport.

University of Houston Digital Storytelling Site

Seven Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling (an info-sheet from Educause Learning Initiative)

Hartley, John, and Kelly McWilliam, eds. Story Circle: Digital Storytelling around the World. Chichester, U.K. ; Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Ohler, Jason. Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, Californa: Corwin, a SAGE Company, 2013.

What is a library?

Last night, I met with the Library & ITS student advisory group to introduce our Media Lab. “Why do Libraries and IT have a joint advisory group?” I asked. We talked about the origin story of libraries and made some connections to libraries of today. What were some reasons for the oldest libraries?

Bibliotheca Alexandrina plaza 003

Bibliotheca Alexandrina plaza

The group suggested:

  • Repository of knowledge
  • Forum for scholarship
  • Expensive and rare items
  • Belief that access should be free and open
  • Propagate literacy
  • Place of creative inquiry and learning

Libraries in the 21st century pursue this same list, but the digital world has suffused most aspects. Many collections that were historically paper are now digital. Search tools are almost exclusively digital. Scholarship itself can have the digital world be its focus (Baylor has two “Digital Scholarship Liaison Librarians.” Check out Add to this a new kind of literacy, “digital literacy,” which is increasingly fundamental to navigating our culture, and the connection between the IT function and libraries is apparent.

This idea of “digital literacy” and creative inquiry using new media are at the heart of our Media Lab. Students across majors must also be “fluent” in digital media for their careers. Graphic design, web development, and the process of planning, recording, editing, and publishing are nearly essential skills in today’s world, as reading and writing were for the educated in the era of the first public libraries.

The ALA “Libraries Transform” initiative writes, “Libraries are committed to advancing their legacy of reading and developing a digitally inclusive society” ( 7 Oct. 2016). The main idea of this initiative is to demonstrate that while the resources libraries provide evolve, what libraries do for and with people is as essential as ever. The Media Lab is a great example of libraries doing what they always have, in new ways.

Libraries “transform’ so that libraries may “transform.”

Media Lab Concept

album-media-lab-640x640-rgbIf you’ve been through the Moody Library Study Commons this semester, you probably noticed new signage for the Media Lab. TechPoint was generously offered a gift from the Shumacher Foundation and four office spaces to create new digital media lab spaces for the general Baylor public. Included are three recording studios, special A/V equipment, and some great computers for editing and rendering.

Reading literacy and access to knowledge in the written word has long been a central goal for libraries. With the ascendency of digital literacy and the expense of access to the tools of this trade, libraries have increasingly begun providing media creation and exploration spaces. Baylor University Libraries is pleased to join this trend.

Read below to survey the concept behind our Media Lab and prepare to get your creative juices flowing.



Rewind, Start at the beginning. Many students with an assignment to create digital media don’t know where to start. Coming soon, look for a training kiosk, available 24 hours a day in the Study Commons. Kick your feet back and get free online training for Audacity, iMovie, Premiere, or even lighting tips and tricks.

Our Media and Technology Specialist and Media Intern will continue to create and provide instruction, gather resources, and coach on the digital media creation process. Book an appointment, or stop by (after our grand opening some time Fall 2016).

This site will increasingly be a source of instruction as well.



Before you record, you must pause to make a plan. Do you need to borrow equipment, or will using our provided spaces be adequate? How long must your final product be? How long do you have to work on this project? How professional must it be? Scripted, outlined, or improvised? Lots of questions.

Dive in without a plan, and the project might take too long, turn out poorly, lose its way, or otherwise be a bad experience. Our Technology and Media Specialist and Media Assistants are available to help think through storyboarding your project, setting up the required equipment, and introduce the software you’ll use to finish the project.



The Media Lab has three DIY recording studios. The first – and where the Media Lab project began – is the Video Booth. This simple audio & video capture space provides everything you need to record your presentation, lecture, or audition. Faculty use it for lecture capture, staff record training, students capture presentations, practice speeches, and more. Multiple backdrops, a projector, teleprompter, lightboard, and staging join the camera, microphone, and overhead lights to accommodate almost any use. Simply bring a USB drive.

Two audio studios are new this fall. Reserve one to record your weekly podcast, audio book, instrument audition, or simply capture voice-overs for training.



Try rendering in Premiere on your old laptop. Not fun. We’ve added special computers to our Editing room to make your editing experience better. All computers in the Study Commons have a great software package with all the tools you’ll need to edit audio and video projects, but the Media Lab computers will be faster.

As we build out this blog, you’ll find details about which tools, both for neophytes and professionals, can take your project where it needs to go.



Where does your content live? Our group runs Kaltura for campus. Your personal “Media Space” allows you to plug content seamlessly into Canvas, WordPress, or your websites and social media. Make your content private or public.

As we discover uses for our Media Lab together, we hope to curate a “Best of” gallery of your work. Get and share ideas in what we expect will become a fun community of new writers, performers, directors, and producers.

Lightboards @ BU

Visit and you’ll read: “The Lightboard is a glass chalkboard pumped full of light.  It’s for recording video lecture topics.  You face toward your viewers, and your writing glows in front of you.”

Lightboards are a teaching tool particularly helpful for flipped or hybrid classes where the professor desires to record lecturettes and write without having to lose eye contact with viewers, or do tedious post-production.

Two tricks are necessary to make the effect work. First, the transparent glass panel, placed between the presenter and the camera, is edge-filled with LED lights. Neon dry erase markers catch that light and the writing glows. A second trick reverses the image, so the viewer sees what the professor sees.

Baylor has two lightboards available for public use. One lives in our Video Booth and offers users virtually plug-and-play lightboard capture. Another is smaller, reservable, and great for desktop lightboard capture, or even live streaming. Read more on our lightboard page!

iMovie Basics


After recording a video in the Video Booth, you will most likely need to edit it to get the final product that you are envisioning.  The Media Lab has two powerful computers that make video editing easy! Right across the hall from the video booth, our editing room includes a Mac and a PC computer for editing.  iMovie is a Mac program, so you will want to use the Mac computer on the left.

Once logged in, open the iMovie application and use the following instructions.  Happy Editing!


Step 1: Create new movie

Either ‘new movie’, plus sign, or file>new)

Step 2:

Don’t create a theme, give the movie a name

Step 3:

Import media (click on down arrow, file>import media, drag media into media library)

Click on media>import selected

Step 4:

Add media to timeline (click and drag, or double click and click plus sign)

Step 5:

Syncing audio and video in iMovie

Drag video and audio down onto the timeline

Turn on waveforms (down at bottom right)

Turn down audio on original clip

Step 6:

Editing video

Step 7:

Editing audio (click and drag to adjust volume)

Fade in/out using slider at beginning and end of clip

Add in and out points on your audio (Option+click on audio)

R-click>detach audio

Step 8:

Exporting (top right corner or file>share)


R-click to split clip

Double click on effects to change time

Project settings

Menu above playback window

Crop to fill (crop>crop to fill)

Pic in Pic/side by side

Speed up/slow down clip

Color correct

Flip clip under filter

Audio effects

5 Tips for Clean Audio while Recording Video

It’s important to understand that a video has two components: picture and sound.  Both need to be considered when recording, and flaws in either component can be extremely distracting for the viewer.  One of the biggest mistakes amateur filmmakers commit is to put all of their effort into recording a nice-looking picture without putting any consideration towards the audio.  Having a nice, clean audio track to go along with your picture is essential for creating a successful video.

Tip #1: Avoid generally noisy spaces

Tip #2: Use a high quality microphone

Tip #3: Eliminate background noise

Tip #4: Proper mic to mouth distance

Tip #5: Listen!

Your ears are the best tools to use to ensure you have recorded clean audio.