Numbers are a curious thing. Some numbers we can easily comprehend, take the number 10 for example. We have ten fingers, as long you’re willing to not argue about how to correctly classify thumbs. When the numbers become larger, for example Ten Million, then it becomes a bit more difficult to comprehend. What if we tried to comprehend One Billion or One Trillion? We know that these are very large numbers, but do we clearly understand how large? In the digital story, The Fallen of World War II, Neil Halloran portrays the number of lives lost during that conflict. This digital story is powerful in the way it addresses numbers.
“We are going to tally up the tens of millions of people whose lives were cut short by the war.”
- Neil Halloran
To introduce this story Neil Halloran addresses numbers by bringing a perspective on average lifespans and how long ago World War II took place. This first step is important because it sets the tone for numbers to come. It is also clarified that we are just calculating the deaths of civilians and soldiers, not injuries. As we move to larger numbers and pause for a moment, just think about how many more people were affected as result of injury. The first group of casualties addressed were those of Americans, and the story points to D-Day. As we continue, other nations are addressed and casualties are broken down into different theaters of the war.
Neil Halloran includes pictures of civilians and Soldiers throughout the story. This is very important because as we become fixated on numbers it is important for us to realize exactly what these enormous numbers represent. Through these pictures we are intimately connected to the numbers. Another valuable tool used is the ability to pause the story and interact with the timeline. As we pause and reflect on the timeline, we learn about the number of casualties for each nation and the battles representing those casualties. Not only is this a story with an enormous amount of perspective, it is also a learning tool. There is definitely research done to create this story.
“Six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust.”
This story about casualties culminates when we address civilian casualties and the Holocaust. The story addresses the circumstances of these deaths, whether it was by death squads or concentration camps. Many civilian deaths also occurred because of Nazi occupation and included gypsies and the handicapped. As we move forward and add up all of the casualties by nation, it is a powerful image.
There is music in the background, and a constant “clicking” heard reminds us of the numbers. The Asian war theater is addressed and the numbers continue to add up. It is at this point during which the human element began to fade a little and the presentation became colder, more sterile. Additional pictures would have helped here. Overall the graphics, sound effects, and narration all work well together.
“The Long Peace.”
- John Gaddis
The story ends, as well as it can, on a positive note. The time before World War II is addressed, global population is addressed and we include time. This gives us an idea of proportions and is a welcome addition. Neil Halloran then speaks to “The Long Peace” as coined by John Gaddis in 1989. Battle deaths are declining steadily despite ongoing conflicts around the world. There is an additional element and that is the story is designed in such a way that it creates a rolling timeline that recognizes the time on your computer and we zoom down to each passing second and we are reminded that numbers matter.
Using the recommended assets provided by Jason Ohler, I chose to evaluate this digital story using Story, Originality/voice/Creativity, and Research. Neil Halloran did an excellent job. The inclusion of music, pictures and interactivity is appreciated. The only improvement that I can think of would be to add some additional pictures throughout the second half of the story.
|How well did the story work? This trait can address structure, engagement or character transformation.
|Overall this Digital story was very well done. There was a clear beginning, middle and end.|
|Originality, Voice, Creativity
|How creative was the production? Did the student exhibit an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective?
|While the digital story deals with a familiar topic it is addressed in a unique way. I enjoyed the originality of how the number of lives lost during WWII was portrayed.|
|Was the student’s project well researched and documented?
|The story was well researched and it shows in the interactivity where additional information is available. It is worthwhile to pause and investigate the different battles and casualties associated with each.|