Digital Storytelling

About Digital Storytelling

"Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. There are a wealth of other terms used to describe this practice, such as digital documentaries, computer-based narratives, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive storytelling, etc.; but in general, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing."

(Source - Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling)

How are digital stories used in college courses and programs?

Digital stories created by both faculty and students are being used in higher education. Digital stories are created faculty to supplement a lesson, unit, or course or to provide students and potential majors with a personal viewpoint on a discipline. Digital stories are assigned to students to reinforce learning of course topics through review and reflection or to enrich learning through exploration of assigned or student-selected topics.

Are digital stories similar to academic essays?

Digital stories in education today tend to be works of non-fiction that use either a personal narrative or expository/documentary structure and style. Some are fictional works. Digital stories in the personal narrative style are non-fiction stories told from an individual's perspective. The story subject's voice usually provides audio narration. Telling one's own story and the sound of the story subject's voice are key components of this style of digital story. These digital stories convey the author's process of learning or growth in a specific discipline, the author's process of choosing an academic specialization, or a powerful experience that influenced the author personally or professionally. They are most often created by individuals or by individuals with a technical consultant. The process of creating this type of digital video involves intense review and reflection, which can enhance learning and metacognition.

Digital stories that use an expository or journalistic style explore a single topic in depth or convey multiple views on a topic. They may include audio narration, audio or video interviews, still images or video clips, graphic illustrations or animations, and onscreen text. They convey information organized around a sequence of concepts or ideas rather than through narrative. Or they may begin with a personal story or anecdote (e.g. why/how I chose this topic or conducted the research), while the core of the video presents a sequence of ideas. A third digital story structure and style used in higher education is the fictional digital story that conveys information through dramatization, example, analogy, or parody using formats such as the fake news report, the historical reenactment, or the fictional case study.

How are digital stories assigned?

Digital stories don't necessarily need to end up on the Internet, but can be shown or distributed as a video file instead if desired. They can be shown in class or assigned as homework. Internet options include placing them within a password-protected learning management system or on an open access personal or campus web page.

How do I get started with my digital story?

It's easy, contact CETL's digital storytelling resource person Del Wright at

UW-Superior Digital Stories

During fall of 2012, CETL offered a program to provide support to educators to enhance student learning and facilitate greater student involvement through creating a 3 to 5 minute digital story on at least one of the first four themes below:University Liberal Education Learning Goals (LELG's), such as communication, critical thinking, diversity/global citizenry, creative expression or interdisciplinary connection;

  • Common misconceptions that students have about your field and offering the accurate view;
  • Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) - why you write and how writing has changed your life;
  • Why you teach - sharing your journey, motivations and inspirations as an educator;
  • and, with an Academic Service-Learning component, you may receive additional support.

The digital stories were produced with technical support provided by CETL's AudioVisual Specialist David Orts and funding support from CETL, as well as the Center for Academic Service-Learning, when applicable. Below are some of the early results.

Faculty and Staff Digital Storytelling


  • Beth Austin explained in Academic Service-Learning at UW-Superior (3:37 minutes) how Academic Service-Learning worked with on-line learning coursework to link to community service.
  • Kenna Bolton Holz explained that the digital story, Feminism (6:30 minutes), was developed primarily for use in the Introduction to Psychology of Women class and included an emphasis on Academic Service-Learning.
  • Marshal Johnson explored in Going to the Dogs in Bali (7 minutes) the ways in which Academic Service-Learning opportunities emerge in study abroad courses like the Bali Workshop.
  • John McCormick explored in AS-L: A Tool for Connecting Purpose to Learning (6:15 minutes) the use of Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) as a tool for bettering student engagement within the writing process.
  • RaLynn Schmalzried Schmidt explained in Why I Teach with Academic Service-Learning (9 minutes) that in her developmental psychology courses, she found it vital that students interact with the populations they were talking about - to challenge stereotypes, observe behavior and thinking, and develop an understanding of others.  This digital story highlights her own experiences with AS-L in college as well as the experiences of two previous students through AS-L placement in her Adulthood and Aging class.
  • Shin-Ping Tucker related in My Journey in Academic Service-Learning (10:48 minutes) how she has used Academic Service-Learning in her classes.



Faculty and Student Digital Storytelling

Becoming a Writer

  • Susie Isaksen, Senior Lecturer, Department of Writing and Library Science, created Dispelling Writers' Myth (11:54 minutes).
  • Amanda Kvam, as a UW-Superior Senior and Writing Center Tutor, created Journey through Writing (2:24 minutes).
  • Eleni Pinnow, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Human Behavior, Justice and Diversity, created Eleni's Story of Writing (4:56 minutes).
  • Tim Rogentine, as a UW-Superior Senior and Writing Center Tutor, created Story of Writing Development (3:02 minutes).

Global Awareness and Study Abroad

  • Karl F. Bahm, Professor of History, Department of Social Inquiry, created Travels in a Bleak and Cheerful Land ...Or How Bosnia Tempered My Pessimism About History With Optimism About People (7:46 minutes).
  • Kathy Hubbard, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Department of Visual Arts, created Weaving with Paint (4:24 minutes).
  • Ezra Riley, as a UW-Superior Junior and a Spanish and International Peace Studies major, created A Visit to Bosnia (2:13 minutes), a digital story based on a UW-Superior study abroad experience.

Faculty and Staff Spots

The Work Our Faculty Do

This series of videos chronicle what UW-Superior faculty do for students, the university, and the community.

The Role of Faculty in Higher Education

This documentary style video is a compilation developed from the four "The Work Our Faculty Do" videos featured above. The video covers the areas of work typical for faculty teaching on the UW-Superior campus and covers topics including; instruction, class prep, advising, committee work and community outreach, giving the viewer an insight on the role of faculty in higher education. [Running time 17 minutes]

30 Second Faculty and Staff AV Spots

These videos were produced by Dave Orts as a part of CETL Initiative, to produce 30 second spots to share a AV Spotlight on UW-Superior faculty and staff across the campus and system community, to tell the world, "Why you Teach" or "How you Contribute to Student Learning".