Digital Stories in Education

Digital Storytelling is the practice of using digital tools, such as digital cameras and computers, to create audio-visual stories. As with traditional storytelling, most digital stories focus on a specific topic and contain a particular point of view.  Digital stories can vary in length, but most of the stories used in education typically last between two and ten minutes. Topics can range from personal tales to the recounting of historical events, from exploring life in one’s own community to the search for life in other corners of the universe, and literally, everything in between.  The beauty of this form of digital expression is that these stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject, and shared electronically all over the world.

More about digital stories and see examples, visit the Center for Digital Storytelling – http://www.storycenter.org/index1.html

I’ve used the Digital Story form to introduce media production concepts to students of all ages.   I’ve also used digital storytelling projects to focus on writing, or speaking a particular language. This works extremely well for students who are learning a new language. It allows them to create a story but not rely entirely on their language ability to convey a message.

Your school  may have all of the equipment that you need. If you have access to an Apple computer, then you already have video editing software that makes it very easy to put together music, images and audio narration.   It is called IMovie.  You may additionally need a scanner to use photographs that students bring from home or you can choose to use material found on the web.   Remember, if students are interested in sharing their creations later, the YouTube or some other site, then you should teach fair use and encourage them to not use popular music. I often recommend using material that is created under a Creative Commons license or is in the Public Domain.

The entire process is fairly simple. Begin by choosing a topic. Have the students begin writing about this topic. Whenever they need to take a break, they can search the Internet (I recommend using creativecommons.org or arhive.org) for images that relate or reinforce what they are talking about. They can even search for background music.