Storify and Higher Education
When I was in school, when it was term paper time you could walk through the library and see stacks of books on the study desks where students had captured coveted resources for information and citation. You had to get the library quickly before all of the good stuff was taken – once a book was on someone’s desk, it was hands off for everyone else. Ahh, the old days.
Storify, the online gatherer of stories, quotes, pictures, and web pages, now has a free iPad app that allows users to create their stories away from their desktop or laptop. The hardware platform can become more of the story as pictures and videos can be taken on the iPad and loaded directly into the story as it is being created.
That said, what would happen if a student turned in a paper created on Storify for a for-credit assignment? The elements are all there – a thesis, a consistent theme throughout, images, quotes, and verified sources. It can be easily shared with fellow students and critiqued by anyone for form, style, and the veracity of the sources. It seems like this would be a dream for students and professors.
Except, would professors adopt to a new program easily? Most would likely want to know a new technology, especially one for a grade, better than the students. That takes time, and how many old dogs want to learn new tricks? How about the academic honor code and plagiarism? Since plagiarism is the kryptonite of the academic pursuit, how could sources be verified or plagiarism be avoided in an environment where everything purports to be on an equal footing?
Storify might help fight plagiarism. Students would not be able to assume that any site, text, image or other artifact brought into their story was legitimate. Under the proper supervision and scrutiny, students would be expected to research their sources thoroughly, instead of the old days when we grabbed a book and assumed it was solid. And, because of the public nature of Storify creations, students would be risking their reputations with high stakes, much higher than when the paper was only seen by the professor.
If nothing else, Storify offers an excellent way to organize thoughts for a paper or project. Also, a useful collaborative tool for students as it is a visual way to see what you’re thinking, before you write, and as it is easily shared, that collaboration can happen over great distance.
Get used to it, Storify is a harbinger of things to come in education. As teachers gain more comfort, and students demand more presentation options, such platforms will have more impact.