Digital Storytelling

People have told stories since the dawn of time. They have utilised the technology available to them right from the days of oral storytelling to entertain and to maintain a history.

Storytelling in all its forms has been at the heart of massive cultural change such as the printing press and more recently the digital revolution.

But what constitutes storytelling in schools, and for that matter anywhere else, and what does it look like?

At first glance it probably means extended writing tasks and fiction, particularly if SATs are beginning to loom on the horizon. This is fine and digital storytelling can be an engaging way of improving what used to happen to me at school: "Write me a story and draw a picture." As English/Literacy teachers know there are many different sorts of fiction to learn about and added to that are various types of nonfiction.

I'm including nonfiction as storytelling; I'm sure the early storytellers based much of their output on oral history and Shakespeare wrote histories too. In that case there is a place for this sort of activity in all areas of the curriculum. Writing is at the heart of school life and a tangible way of demonstrating learning. Digital storytelling brings this into the 21st century

The first benefit of using technology to tell a story is diversity. Here's an initial list that I'm sure can be improved upon:

  • Text
  • Movie
  • Cartoon
  • Animation
  • Interactive story
  • Scrapbook
  • Image sequence
  • Podcast

And don't forget that at the heart of this is writing. Even a movie or a podcast needs a script.

The resources available are countless and coming and going all the time, in common with other digital sites and materials. There are a couple of links below to suggest some things to try but it is important to recognise that to be current with what you use is no longer a possibility in the way it was in the past because of the exponential speed of development and teachers can only be expected to make a reasonable effort at using the latest resources. Recognise the speed of change but don't be a prisoner to it.

What does your broadband connection bring to storytelling? You might use a web based resource to create (see some of the resources linked to below) or you might use it to publish either as an ebook or on a blog. You might like to combine both so have a look at Making The News 2 These sites are motivating and engaging but nowhere are they more transformative than in the size of the available audience for a learner's work if published online. You'll find that the possibility of feedback from the audience concentrates the mind wonderfully!

A lot of writing in schools is dedicated to the demonstration of learning or explaining and developing understanding. Digital storytelling tools allow this to happen in ways that are varied and engaging but also more synchronised with a young learner's out of school digital experience.

In 2001 Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, published Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, a revision for the 21st century. At the highest level sits 'Creating'. It seems that storytelling in all its forms is not only here to stay but that its importance is boosted in the new century.

Useful references:

A page relating to a course I ran last year:

Storytelling bookmarks: