[36] AquaTED: the power of digital stories in STEM


AquaTED: the power of digital stories in STEM


Sara Barrento


AquaTED https://medium.com/aquated is an online education project where I used the online Medium platform to tell real stories about coastal populations, their aquacultures and ​​fisheries livelihoods. This content was used for the first time in the current academic year (2018/2019) with forty students enrolled in the 3rd year Marine Biology degree doing the Aquaculture and Fisheries module. This module is part of a pilot taking place in the Biosciences Department, College of Science, where assessment is based on coursework only.

Each story is a starting point for exploring concepts and discussing ideas in a blended learning context. The project uses techniques of literary journalism, also known as narrative journalism, photojournalism and video reporting without comments and with reduced image and sound editing. The stories give a human and factual dimension to concepts that in a class room often become abstract and distant. Every story includes clear learning objectives, suggested activities for educators and students, and a section on further reading. AquaTED can be used by students, educators, aquaculture and fisheries practitioners, and professional trainers in the industry.

The novelty of this project relies on the new content but also on how Medium – the online platform, was used to introduce this content. Medium is a text publishing platform created in 2012 by Evan Williams co-founder of twitter. The platform has become a space for the exchange of ideas that goes far beyond the 280 characters of a twit. Designed to publish emotive stories and manifestos that ambition to change the world we live in, Medium already has 60 million readers every month.

This project aimed to demonstrate that blended learning can and should aspire to provide novel online content that goes beyond the explanatory videos with educators as talking heads. In this presentation I will showcase innovative teaching content, using an innovative online tool which is freely available – Medium. I will also explore the advantages of using journalism techniques in biological science teaching, the technological and management limitations of Medium, and the impact on learning. I believe the future is about simplicity and authenticity. Digital storytelling provides both. Medium provides the simplicity and convenience of a very easy to use platform, with a simple but effective design.

Session Outline

The session will start with a story to illustrate the power of stories and where they can take us. I will then introduce the platform – Medium. I will go through the AquaTED publication, and the different sections. A key point will be the facilitation in class, and how to generate and manage discussion that leads to learning. A gerenal overview of impact will also be provided.

Key Messages

By the end of the session delegates will be familiar with Medium; realize the importance of storytelling and basic journalism techniques to facilitate guided discussions in class.

Key Words

Blended Learning; Medium; Storytelling

FOR STAFF USE ONLY: laptop, data projector, Access to Powerpoint, speakers for showing videos with sound, and access to the internet.

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