Digital storytelling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional content. Digital stories can be instructional, persuasive, historical, or reflective. Constructing a narrative and communicating it effectively require the storyteller to think carefully about the topic and consider the audience’s perspective. Digital storytelling relates closely with Marshall McLuhan’s ideas, who emphasized how technology could change patterns of human communication. McLuhan stated that technology could be used to amplify or accelerate existing processes.
Digital storytelling has many uses within the realm of education. Teachers can use digital storytelling to help students realize their creative talents. Students can use digital storytelling to develop their communication skills. Storytelling facilitates and prompts students to ask questions, express opinions, construct narratives, and write for an audience. There are many studies that support the idea that by having students tell stories in their own voices, children develop greater self-esteem and confidence.
Digital stories typically begin with a script. Storyboards can be created simply by using a table in Microsoft Word. The storyteller assembles the media to support the ideas and emotions in the script, including music or other audio, personal or public domain images, animations or video, and other electronic elements. Stories result in short movies usually ranging from a minimum of two minutes to a maximum of eight minutes long.
Digital storytelling is significant because the oral tradition of knowledge transfer and exchange has served as the basis for education since humans began teaching one another. Digital storytelling creates opportunities to reflect on life and find deep connections with the subject matter or a course. Just as we have used blogging this semester in New Media Studies, digital storytelling is another way that students can deepen their connections with course content and follows the dual-coding theory of cognition. Dual-coding theory postulates that both visual and verbal codes for representing information are used to organize information into knowledge.
My creation is a digital story using Microsoft PhotoStory3. There were some glitches with my experience. I could not get the music and narration to synch together, and also found that once a segment of narration was recorded, I could not edit part of a segment without re-recording the entire piece. My microphone was relatively inexpensive, and it would have been smoother with a higher quality microphone or mixer. However, the overall result of the experience was that it forced me to reflect on my experience at Mary Washington and create a story based on my experience in my own voice. With all of the rushing to get assignments done at the end of the semester, the digital storytelling project was valuable in that it forced me to think about what I was doing, rather than constantly react and work to meet deadlines. It made me take a step back and consider what the meaning of the experience was while I was going through it, which I think is precisely why educators are so excited about the benefits of digital storytelling for students.