As the name suggests, digital storytelling is a form of activity that combines the age-old tradition of telling stories (typically in the form of personal narrative, but other genres are also popular) through the use of digital tools. Digital storytelling has itself become popular among educators in past decade, due to the activity’s incorporation of writing and “voice”, multimedia, and web publishing. As such, digital stories are often an exercise in both “traditional” literacy practices and technical literacy, making it a favorite activity among education reformers and “21st Century Learning” enthusiasts.
The most often heralded advantages of digital storytelling are 1) its expressive capabilities, which utilize audio (music, as well as voice-over narration), video, still images, and other media, 2) the ability to easily combine research, writing, reflection, and revision skills into the activity, 3) the emphasis onsharing and publishing, which enhance students’ accountability and sense ownership for their work, and 4) its use of now-commonly available (and often familiar) technologies to engage students in critical thinking and analysis.
Students typically use a combination of digital photos and video that they have taken with a personal device such as a phone or digital camera, or have appropriated from other sources, (see “Resources” below for a list of public domain and copyright free sources), and a narrative voice-over, which can usually be recorded in whatever multimedia software they are using to produce the digital story. Background music and effects are also sometimes used to “enhance” the final product, which may require the use of specialized (but easy to use) audio production software.
What you need:
- Computer or laptop
- Multimedia software (such as PowerPoint, iMovie, Windows Live, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, etc.)
- Optional: audio production software (such as Garageband or Audacity)
- Internet Archive (www.archive.org)
- Digital Public Library of America (www.dp.la)
- National Archives (www.archives.org)
- EDUCAUSE: “Seven things you should know about Digital Storytelling” (PDF)
- Digital Storytelling (Wikipedia article)
- “The 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling“
Example of digital storytelling projects:
- Stories of immigration at the Oakland LIFE Academy (YouTube video embedded above)
- “4 Inspiring Examples of Digital Storytelling”