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Storytelling [intro to desktop documentary]

[Project Narrative] [Instructional Narrative]

Project Narrative

Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world. It was launched in 2007 in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide.

starting points

What story to tell? How to prepare/set up for a media presentation?


Storytelling [intro to desktop documentary] is an icebreaker activity, designed to ease tension and relieve formalities. Other themes could be integrated: storytelling traditions, social documentary, photo essays, cartography, networks, surveillance, data.

Individual students use a computer, Google Street View, Google Maps, and a projector, to take the whole group on a virtual walk. This project requires little preparation because content can be pulled directly from lived experience (or a fictionalized reality), and stories can be delivered in any style, order, or format. The shared Google Street View and Google Map locations are familar (comfort zones) for the student narrating. In addition the story being told, the projected media, laggy Google motion and visual abberations, and awkward screen interactions are engaging to the audience, taking eyeballs (and pressure) off the performer.

During this activity students discover common grounds/experiences and begin to relate to each other. Stereotypes are unpacked. Conversations happen. Students learn to prepare a quick presentation flow based on their own expertise, navigate an A/V situation (with facilitation), and get to know unexpected internet/browser issues and other normal "technical difficulties" in a casual encouraging environment.


conflicts, event, narrative, performance, plot, reveal, revelation, score, sequence, timing, twist, voice 

structure and timing

Prompt the whole group with questions. Prompts should be related to the course level, theme or topic, a sensory experience, or event. Give students a time constraint or expectation: 5 mins is a number. In our experience, things can go long and Q&A inspires interesting tangents. Do keep a timer/clock in sight so you don't run out of time.

Instructional Narrative

This project can involve several phases of activity: prompts, research, story time, conversation

phase 1 prompts

Using Google Maps and Google Street View and Google Maps Views take us for a walk. Show us something(s), tell us stories. Where were you born? Where did something happen? Is there someplace special? Did something go wrong? Did something go right? 

phase 2 research

This is time to think, check on location access, prepare tabs or windows, make a script or notes. If students have their own computers this is a convenient process. If computers are shared students could do this research in rotation and prepare their browser window/bookmarks for later.

phase 3 story time

Facilitate the experience. Help with A/V this time so next time students can get setup without help. This project is an icebreaker. [designed to ease tension and relieve formalities].

phase 4 conversation

If the group is bashful, ask the first question to get things rolling.

going further

Students can use QuickTime Player to make a video recording of their screen, or just a region of their screen to save as a movie file for later viewing. This media can be edited or integrated into a more developed project.