Everybody loves stories, no matter if we are hearing them or telling them. Exploring digital storytelling in your classroom connects students to an age-old practice in an entirely modern way.
Storytelling has a rich history as a communication tool in various guises, from cave drawings, through the oral storytelling tradition in many cultures, to its modern
manifestations in visual, photographic, film and digital media. Storytelling as a technique has a natural fit with children – from the earliest ages children delight in looking at, listening to
and participating in storytelling activities. Digital storytelling has much in common with traditional storytelling, with the added dimensions afforded by the digital environment. Digital storytelling is about combining the art of telling stories with digital media such as images, audio and video.
Digital storytelling represents a constructivist approach to learning, which recognizes the relationship between education and experience, and asserts that children’s
active engagement in learning helps facilitate the construction of their own meaning. Digital storytelling can potentially help develop the higher-order skills that have been
identified with constructivist-based learning approaches, including organizational, problem solving and presentation skills.
Digital storytelling as a media-based narrative form can be traced back to the 1990s, but more recent research has explored its use in educational settings. Digital storytelling can be described as an educational tool for improving content-based instruction, and can facilitate improved content understanding, knowledge gains, and thinking skills. Studies have found that digital storytelling plays a role in
developing a sense of personal identity and culture, and can facilitate heightened self-awareness and empowerment.
Digital storytelling is an assets-based pedagogy where students can bring their own cultural knowledge and experience to transform their thinking and empower themselves.
Below are 6 different reasons digital storytelling is an activity worth pursuing in class. We’ve also suggested a few tools to accompany you and your students on those fulfilling journeys.
1. It Lets Students Practice Communicating With Visuals.
Today, communication is largely done through visual media. The challenge for any designer or marketing professional is to find a way to say more with less text. It will probably continue to be this way for a very long time. In the end, the more you can say with less the better.
Words are precious, and being able to communicate in their absence is a unique and valuable skill in classrooms and workplaces.
That’s why exploring digital storytelling techniques using visual components is so powerful.
2. It Teaches Students the Power of Imagination.
We talked before about why imagination is just as important as knowledge in learning. Learners can take risks in a safe environment when imagination is at play. Exploring digital storytelling means exploring possibilities and creative potential.
In many ways the products of our imaginations are the true representations of who we are.
Learning was never meant to be a linear journey. If we are allowed to imagine, then borders disappear.
3. It Makes Learning About the Writing Process Fun.
Writing has a basic process that we learn, and after that we develop our own style the more we write. Creating our own style mojo is the fun part—the basics can be a drag, though. Thankfully there are plenty of tools online today to make learning and practicing the process more engaging.
4. It Helps Students Develop Confidence and Leadership
In the 6D system of Solution Fluency, there is a phase called Delivery. This is all about presenting a project or proposed solution—it’s about “delivering the goods.” Doing this in front of peers and others naturally develops and enhances leadership and confidence skills. So it follows that any digital storytelling project can build the same skills when students deliver it through unique and noteworthy presentation formats.
5. It Teaches Critical Thinking Skills.
Storytelling is one of the greatest tools humanity has ever had for teaching and entertaining. Both of these require a healthy dose of critical thinking and reasoning skills. When it comes to the art of exploring digital storytelling, these skills are also applied to creating a visual product.
6. It Teaches Students to Take Pride in Intellectual Property.
After a successful digital storytelling session, how likely are students to share their work on social media or their YouTube channel? It’s probably very likely and rightly so.
After the work they’ve put in they deserve to be proud and to feel satisfied with what they’ve created and given to others. This is the essence of respecting not only one’s own intellectual property, but that of others as well.