Instructional Technology/Digital Storytelling
What is Digital Storytelling?
The Digital Storytelling Association,[] defines Digital Storytelling as "the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen."
"Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights. Tell your story now digitally." - Leslie Rule, Digital Storytelling Association.
Telling a story "digitally" means merging a short narrative, with corresponding audio, and various types of visual media, including photos, artwork, letters, and digital video. It also brings storytelling to the computer arena – so that it may be more easily distributed, communicated and linked with other stories, in order to create a global storytelling experience.
On his website, Daniel Meadows outlines the parameters for what constitutes a digital story. The script must be 250 words, using 10-12 still photos and about 2 minutes long.
Strict parameters such as these enforce a sort of diligence where artistic creation is concerned (think sonnets or haiku.)
Here is a link to Daniel Meadows digital story webpage. There is a tutorial on this page also. []
According to Joe Lambert in his []"Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Travelling Companion" document, a good digital story must contain seven elements.
- Point of View – Who is the narrator and why is he/she talking to us?
- Dramatic Question – Desire – Action - Realization
- Emotional Content – What are the emotions associated with your narrative?
- The Gift of your Voice – What does your narrator sound like?
- The Power of the Soundtrack – What music sets the mood for your story?
- Economy – Keep it short and succinct.
- Pacing – The rhythm of the story helps set the tone
Digital Storytelling came about in the early 1990's when a group of [] "media artists, designers and practitioners" got together to merge elements of storytelling with new digital media.
Digital Storytelling in Education
According to Carole McCulloch, of Tafe Frontiers in Melbourne, Australia, Digital Storytelling can be used in educational settings to:
- Demonstrate a competency
- Describe a process
- In Portfolios of achievement
- Develop writing skills and sense of story for younger students
In addition to the above, Digital Storytelling can be used to motivate students. Most students love working on computers. Computers provide students access to tools they can use to enhance the expression of their thoughts and ideas in ways they might not be able to do otherwise. Pictures, graphics, drawing tools, color and sound feed students' creativity. Using storytelling parameters, students would also have to address the presentation of their content from aspects. They would have to use their planning and organizational skills as well as their creative ones. Through storyboarding students can develop planning and writing skills by outlining what will take place. Students also learn how to summarize an event or process for a specific audience. The Digital Story could be viewed as a rubric to assist students in creating their projects. Although it may sound a little intimidating to some, most students would probably find it a refreshing departure from traditional educational assignments and thus more likely to stay engaged.
Join the "Digital Storytelling Network" [] to communicate directly with Carole McCulloch, among others working with Digital Storytelling.
Faculty and graduate students at the University of Houston have created a website called the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling  which focuses on the use of digital storytelling by teachers and their students across multiple content areas and grade levels.
Things to Think about Before Implementing Into a Classroom: A Teacher's Reflection
Although students are familiar with films and may have exposure with creating multimedia presentations, the concept of Digital Story Telling is abstract for many students. In a recent attempt to incorporate Digital Story Telling into the elementary classroom, It became apparent that students need to be provided with examples of quality projects. Some things that you will want to emphasize your students are:
- Planning is pertinent to creating a quality project
- Create clear illustrations
- Use a loud, clear voice when recording the narration
- Be patient
- If necessary, do things over.
Beyond preparing students to be successful, it is pertinent that the teacher create an environment that is conducive to effective story telling. For example, if the project is being completed in a small space, not all groups will be able to record their narrations at the same time. Too much background noise will muddle recordings. If you choose to have groups scan pictures for use in their presentation, you may need to stagger the groups to ensure that students are actively involved in the project whenever time is allotted to work on it.
It is also necessary to make sure that the equipment that will be used in the creation of these projects is available. Students will need access to computers, microphones, digital camcorders, digital cameras, scanners, and software that allows for the creation of multimedia presentations. If your school is networked and students are not provided with file strorage large enough to hold these large electronic files, the teacher will need to develop a plan for how these projects are going to be stored while the students are working on them.
Good Digital Stories:
Are personal: The creator of the digital presentation is in the story in a key way — as the narrator and sometimes also as the protagonist. While many digital storytelling projects feature third parties, the narrator is encouraged to personalize the tale, making it clear how the people or events in the story impacted his or her life.
Begin with the story/script: In workshops by CDS, DigiTales, and others, participants are expected to narrow in on their story, writing and even recording their script before they ever begin digitizing images, importing sound effects, or using video editing tools. Jason Ohler, in an introduction to his soon-to-be-released book, Telling Your Story, points out that having students "create and tell stories before they [get] to use all the empowering and distracting technology at their disposal" is an important way to avoid "enabling the technophile at the expense of the story teller in...students."
Are concise: Typically, a digital story will run from two to five minutes in length. This means tight editing and a very specific focus. In Scott County, Kentucky, Leslie Flanders and Jeanne Biddle explain to students that the goal is to narrow the story down to a single "nugget" — one central idea or message.
Use readily-available source materials: Although camcorders might be used in the creation of a digital story, they are not essential. In fact, some consider them a distraction from the end product. Instead, many digital stories rely heavily on photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and other scanned-in images, along with transition effects, to accompany the recorded narrative. The staff at CDS refer to the medium they teach as being like "PowerPoint on steroids." They have embraced this approach because it "puts the participant in the editing chair, with a minimal amount of preparation."
Include universal story elements: Although proponents of digital storytelling describe and label these terms in a number of different ways, good stories — digital or not — include essential elements such as conflict, transformation, and closure. Furthermore, they are told in a way that allows the audience to, as Ohler puts it, "identify with them, remember them, and be changed by them."
Involve collaboration: "Story circles," in which participants give and receive feedback on their stories and scripts, are an important part of many digital storytelling workshops. As Joe Lambert puts it, "Storytelling is meant to be a collaborative art. It is much more realistic this way, and much more fun."
If you're interested in creating some digital stories, Carole McCulloch suggests the following tools to get started:
Photo Story 3 software
Free music clips
Script template (click on "Resources")
Digital Story Telling Starter Kit http://www.digitalstorytellingworld.com
Many Regions, Many lives, Many Stories
Here are some Digital Storytelling websites from around the world.
- []Capture Wales
- []Cipolwg ar Gymru
- []The Fray
- []Streaming Stories
- (BAD URL)World War II Memories Project
Pioneers in the Field
Joe Lambert [] founding Director of the Center for Digital Storytelling, a "non-profit project development, training, and research organization dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives," located in Berkley, CA.
The late Dana Atchley, [] performance artist and creator of "Next Exit" an interactive theatrical performance.
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