Digital storytelling involves creating multimodal, or multimedia, narratives. A digital story typically involves some combination of text, images, audio and/or video structured into a narrative.
Digital storytelling is not a tool as such, but rather a technique which can involve a whole variety of different web 2.0 tools and/or mobile apps. Mobile devices like smartphones or tablets are frequently used to take the photos and make the audio or video recordings (see also the multimedia recording page) which are combined to create digital stories, with the creation of the final stories taking place either on the mobile devices themselves or on laptop or desktop computers. In this way, digital storytelling is linked not only to web 2.0 learning but also to mobile learning.
Because of the way it draws together a range of language, literacy, presentation, and ICT skills, digital storytelling is becoming an increasingly common educational activity. Digital stories may be individually or collaboratively created, and may be static, dynamic or even interactive. They offer an ideal opportunity for students to hone digital literacies such as multimodal literacy (in creating multimedia digital stories which communicate their messages effectively to their intended target audiences) and network literacy (in disseminating their own digital stories, and accessing and commenting on peers’ digital stories). The final products can be included in students’ PLEs or e-portfolios. Note that if students show their faces or reveal their identities in their digital stories, it may be advisable to share these only in password-protected online spaces; whereas if students plan on sharing their work more widely, it may be appropriate to encourage them to disguise their identities (for example through the use of animated characters in place of photos or videos of themselves).
For useful educational ideas and resources, including examples of digital stories, see Helen Barrett’s Digital Storytelling, Langwitches’ Digital Storytelling (see the sketch below), the University of Houston’s Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, and Wes Fryer’s Show What You Know with Media (see the image at the top of this page). For reflections on lessons learned from a cross-cultural digital storytelling project, see Grace Oakley and Mark Pegrum’s Multimodal Stories for Language and Cultural Exchange.
There are three main options for creating digital stories, namely manual digital storytelling, automated digital storytelling, and mobile digital storytelling, as outlined below. Note that combinations of these are also possible, for example when mobile devices are used to take photos or make audio recordings, and to carry out initial editing, before these materials are transferred to a laptop or desktop computer, perhaps edited further, and then integrated into a final format for sharing.
Manual digital storytelling
|TOOL TYPE||TOOL EXAMPLES|
|Comics||Cambridge English Cartoon Maker
Comic Strip Creator
Graphix Comic Builders
|Storybooks||Little Bird Tales
|Annotated pictures||Annotation Pilot
Easy Screen Capture and Annotation
Genially [web annotation]
Thinglink [web annotation]
Web Poster Wizard
|Flipbooks||1stFlip Flibook Creator
Free Flip Book Maker
iGooSoft FlipBook Creator
Kvisoft FlipBook Maker
VeryPDF Flipbook Maker
Automated digital storytelling
|TOOL TYPE||TOOL EXAMPLES||AUDIO/VIDEO FORMAT|
|video, usually created after adding a narrative
voiceover & saving the file as a video
Windows Movie Maker (PC)
|Machinima||in-built video capture tools
in virtual worlds
or gaming environments
Mobile digital storytelling
These kinds of digital storytelling apps make it easy to create template-based digital stories, and they are highly suitable for young or digitally inexperienced learners. Note, however, that users are often restricted to preset templates, and it may be difficult to export and share work: the digital stories created will in some cases only be viewable by others who have the same app running on the same operating system.
|ICON||APP TYPE||APP NAME|
|Animation (TV show featuring
real video footage)
(Classic Explain Everything)
(Explain Everything Interactive Whiteboard)
|Storybook||Creative Book Builder|
|Storybook||Little Story Maker|
You might also like to check out Common Sense Education’s (2019) Best Apps for Creating Books and Storybooks. More information is available on the Publications on Digital Learning page under ‘digital storytelling’.
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