Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

Digital Storytelling

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Digital Storytelling

CETL Digital Storytelling Projects

What is a digital story?

Digital stories combine elements such as audio narration, still images, video clips onscreen text, and music to tell stories, usually in a movie file of less than five minutes.

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 dwrigh11@uwsuper.edu


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