Name of the resource
Storyline Online (Storyline)
Summary of the Storyline and how it can be accessed
Storyline is a free web resource in the form of audio and video books that contains stories read by Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Foundation members. Storyline was created by SAG Foundation and it can be accessed from the following URL: http://www.storylineonline.net/
Storyline provides a list of books where a user can select any book to be read by SAG member. When a book title is clicked, a YouTube video player will open where the user can click on play button to play the video. The video can also be played with SchoolTube and MYVR Spot. The user can select to play the video with any player by clicking on “Select Player” button on the top-left corner of the website (SAG Foundation, 2014). When the video is playing, the user can pause and stop the video, increase the volume of the video, and enlarge the video to full screen. When playing stories via YouTube, the user can also turn on closed captioning by clicking on “CC” button that appears at the bottom right part of the YouTube player. Storyline also provides activity guides for most books and these guides can be accessed from their website by clicking on “Activity Guides” link at the bottom of the main page. The users can also buy copies of the books through Amazon by clicking on “Buy These Books” link at the bottom of the main page (SAG Foundation, 2014).
Storyline is beneficial to students who have difficulties in reading and maintaining attention when reading independently. Hence, when a book is read to them, these students can benefit by improving their reading comprehension, communication, and logical thinking skills. Students with hearing difficulties and students who are new English learners can also benefit from Storyline because all videos played with YouTube player display closed captioning. Moreover, playing these videos multiple times and pausing them at any time will enable students to take brief notes and ask questions to the teacher and it will also enable the teacher to explain a certain concept that arises while watching the video. Students with vision problems can also benefit from these videos because all videos have clear audio capabilities. Finally, the users can test their comprehension after the story has been read out to them by completing the study guides.
My reasons for selecting Storyline
When I was volunteering with SARAW (reading and writing) program at the Bow Valley College, we had few volunteer readers to support all learners; so all readers were assigned to a big group of learners. That compromised one-on-one support for each learner since all learners were students with special needs. SARAW program also had limited books; hence, most learners shared books. With Storyline, hard copies of books will not be required, students can access the stories at home and at any time, and a volunteer can play the story for three to five students and observe their interactions when the story is being read out. Therefore, I think this resource is beneficial to all students of the SARAW program.
Critique of the Storyline including its strengths and weaknesses
Storyline is very easy to use since it requires basic internet browsing skills and all books are stored and available online. This resource is also convenient because all users can access this resource from any network device and at any time. Storyline’s creators have also provided FAQs on their website; these FAQs are helpful to teachers and users for troubleshooting issues related to playing the videos.
Currently, Storyline videos work with only three video players; hence, it does not support other highly used players like windows media player, QuickTime, and VLC player. Moreover, the closed captioning is only available for videos played using YouTube. Storyline can also run out of videos for frequent or heavy users because it does not regularly release more book titles.
Therefore, based on the affordances and constraints of Storyline, I would recommend this resource to students who would like to hear stories being read out to them and who have access to YouTube, SchoolTube, or MYVR Spot player.
Decision and support needed to use Storyline in Education
Since all books are available online, students will need access to a computer with an internet connection of 500+ Kbps (SAG Foundation, 2014). Also, headsets may be required when playing the stories in order to avoid distractions to other students in a quiet environment. However, educators willing to use this resource in their classrooms, libraries, and computer laboratories will need approvals from the leadership team.
Most schools’ internet contains firewall which blocks certain external applications like YouTube. Students can use other players when watching videos; however, I recommend users to use YouTube due to its ability to display closed captioning. Thus, approval from leadership team will be required to use YouTube for viewing these online stories.
SAG Foundation. (2014). Storyline Online. Retrieved from http://www.storylineonline.net/