A number of class activities are used to encourage students to explore ways of heightening the impact of their stories. In one such activity, an in-class 'brain-storming' session allows students to consider which titles made a story seem more interesting and why. Further activities focus on storytelling skills to help students reflect on what makes an interesting impactful story and on how the story structure, timing and delivery all influence their audience.
Other activities focus on intonation, pronunciation and narration skills, so that students could become more aware of the role and impact of sound and voice on their DS. The voiceboard activity requires students to record a response to an audio question posted by their teacher and to listen to the teacher's recorded feedback.
In the short narration activities, students are required to mimic the expressiveness of a pre-recorded narration. Students are asked to compare their own recordings with the audio frequency visualizations of their teacher, in order to become more aware of the pronunciation, intonation and tone on their own audio recordings.
At the ANU, introductory and intermediate Japanese language courses are divided into two streams, one focused on reading and writing and the other on speaking and listening. The target course for the Digital Story Project (hereafter DSP) is JPNS2012 Spoken Japanese 3, which is the first semester speaking and listening course at the intermediate level.
The main learning outcome associated with the Digital Story Task was for students to "develop the ability to express themselves in Japanese by writing and performing creative/imaginative texts". The overall 25% assessment of the DSP was divided into the following three components:
- Digital Storyboard Draft Submission (10%)
- Digital Story Narration Recording (5%)
- Digital Story Final Movie & Revised Storyboard (10%)
The assessment process is staged and incorporates a draft storyboard and a sample narration audio file before the submission of the final digital story movie. This staged process achieved two goals, allowing teachers to provide staged feedback, and encouraging students to develop their project step by step. The first step of the draft storyboard, encouraged them to focus on the content and language of their story and how certain images could enhance their message. The second focused on their narration delivery, including pronunciation, intonation and verbal expressiveness. The third and final stage allowed them to focus on the overall composition and audience impact of their completed film. The movie night at the semester end, allowed students to watch each other's movies, creating a real sense of solidarity and community within the course as a whole.