New Tech, New Storytelling Tricks

In his latest book, educator Michael Hernandez ’93 explores alternative ways to teach by embracing digital storytelling.

Generative AI has been testing the educational system for a little while now and the results are in: It’s time to get with the program(s). Standardized testing and traditional assessments are out of touch with technical realities, Michael Hernandez ’93 argues. In his book Storytelling With Purpose: Digital Projects to Ignite Student Curiosity, Hernandez provides multimedia and multimodal solutions combining technology and storytelling to get students to learn based on their passions and curiosity.

With storytelling as a scaffold, Hernandez believes students can create unique projects that generative AI can’t recreate. Rather than memorizing or regurgitating information on a worksheet, he argues students should apply what they’ve learned to the real world through personal projects.

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For example, rather than filling out worksheet after worksheet, a student in a foreign-language class might create an online tourism brochure of their hometown in the language they’re learning. The student could include personalized reviews of locales and restaurants or details related to their community while still employing the necessary vocabulary required by the curriculum. This type of project that uses technology to tell a story and encourages resiliency, creativity, and humanity is what Hernandez says is missing in education.

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Michael Hernandez ’93 at a book signing at the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, in March. Photo provided by Hernandez.

“One of the outcomes of this book is helping students become critical thinkers and being able to ascertain what the facts are for themselves,” Hernandez says. “Because once they leave the protection of our classroom [and] those carefully curated articles and textbooks, who knows what’s true? We have to facilitate those skills and those mindsets, so students can be resilient and successful outside of school because that’s where it really counts.”

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