Digital Storytelling

Authors: Danijela Birt, Jadranka Brkić-Vejmelka, Ines Cvitković Kalanjoš
Tags: Digital Inclusion Digital Literacy Digital Worldmaking

Digital Storytelling is the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of digital multimedia, such as images, audio, and video. Digital stories bring together a mixture of digital graphics, text, recorded audio narration, video, and music to present information on a specific topic. As is the case with traditional storytelling, digital stories revolve around a chosen theme and often contain a particular viewpoint (Robin, 2011). Aline Gubrium defines digital storytelling as an innovative community-based participatory research method, that enables community members to participate more actively in studies relating to local issues (Gubrium, 2009, S. 5). It is a bottom-up approach that while in the process of policy making, those that are part of the community, have an opportunity to construct and represent their own experience (Gubrium, 2009, S. 8).   

In his trainings Joe Lambert, co-founder of the Centre for Digital Storytelling (CDS), a non-profit, community arts organization in Berkeley California, provides assistance to people interested in creating and sharing their personal narratives.   
The CDS is also known for developing and disseminating the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling: (1) Point of View – what is the perspective of the author?, (2) A Dramatic Question – a question that will be answered by the end of the story, (3) Emotional Content – serious issues that speak to us in a personal and powerful way, (4) The Gift of your Voice – a way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context, (5) The Power of the Soundtrack – music or other sound that support the storyline, (6) Economy – using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer with too much information, (7) Pacing – related to Economy, deals with how slow or quickly the story progresses (Robin, 2011, S. 2).   
In his paper titled, “The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling”, Robin presents a categorization of digital stories and accordingly sorts them in three major groups: (1) personal narratives which incorporate stories that contain accounts of significant incidents in one’s life, (2) historical documentaries which include stories that examine dramatic events that help us understand the past, and (3) stories designed to inform or instruct the viewer on a particular concept or practice (Robin, 2011, S. 2).  

Not only in education, Digital storytelling can be used to facilitate discussions about difficult but current issues such as “race”, multiculturalism, pandemics, and globalization. One of the proposed examples to implement is titled “Almost Paradise”.   .  
According to Robin, stories that are created in the digital world, through digital storytelling, allow users to share their work and communicate about it with other stakeholders closely connected to the respective project, and others interested in the topic. The very way of creating a story through digital storytelling, enables the participation of students with different learning styles, and as the emphasis is on group work, it is an opportunity to strengthen and develop several types of literacy: digital literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, etc. (Robin, 2011).  
Gubrium, A. (2009). Digital Storytelling as Method for Engaged Scholarship in Anthropology.” Practicing Anthropology. 31(4), S. 5-9.   
Robin, B. (2011). The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2006. S. 1-8.