Using Storify in the Writing Classroom

Storify is a free social network service and application that lets the user create stories or timelines using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Storify was launched in September 2010, and has been open to the public since April 2011. In 2014 the company launched a fee-based “enterprise” version of Storify aimed at businesses, news organizations, and groups that want to use the application for internal purposes. This version allows users to password-protect or make private their Storify stories; the free version generates public urls once the creator clicks “publish”–which also prompts the user to “view and publicize” the story. Storify is integrated with both Twitter and Facebook, so users who are new to the application can either create a new user account or log in with their existing Twitter or Facebook accounts.

I have found Storify an effective way of introducing first-year students to writing for a public audience, and also to using social media as a way of extending and supplementing their own writing. In addition, I am currently using it with my Introduction to Nonfiction Writing students to demonstrate how journalists are using this application (The Denver Post won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for its coverage of the Aurora Colorado shootings in part based on their use of Storify).

Here is an example of a short assignment I gave my English 110, Craft of Writing students last spring; I asked them to write tweets analyzing one visual image from Majane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis, and I created a short Storify presentation on the results:

 

 


 

I have also created a Storify that gathers ideas generated by Agnes Scott faculty about how to teach a unit on the liberal arts to first-semester students, using a common text all Fall 2016 students are reading: historian William Cronon’s “‘Only Connect: The Goals of a Liberal Education.” This Storify illustrates how the application allows and encourages users to incorporate a variety of sources, from tweets to web sites to images to videos:

 

One important point to remember for anyone using Storify: as long as you are using the free, standard version of the application, everything you publish will be public. But you can use the application exclusively in “draft” mode, which allows you to quickly and efficiently search for, gather and aggregate a great many social media sources focusing on particular topics.