The utilization of blogs, wikis, and podcasts are formidable educational tools for the digital natives and milennials of the 21st century. Furthermore, teachers have added to their classrooms digital cameras, video editing software, and other digital media for the production of student-generated digital storytelling projects. This is done in an effort to educate the Y generation effectively. The 5 steps to follow for the production of digital storytelling projects are:

  1. Story Development
  2. Screenwriting and Storyboarding
  3. Filming
  4. Editing
  5. Exhibition/Review/Reflection

j0336971.gif But what does the term "digital storytelling" really mean?

Bernajean Porter's website
**"Digitales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories"** describes this educational tool. She states, "Digital storytelling takes the ancient art of oral storytelling and engages a palette of technical tools to weave personal tales using images, graphics, music and sound mixed together with the author's own story voice." Every aspect of storytelling: structure, plot, character, pace, voice, timing, and setting, can be created by the learner digitally. The process of digital storytelling is educational but what makes it most unique is the personal perspective required for each story. It requires a student to "engage in the data and information" and to design it with their own personal touch. (Digitales, 2004)
Porter lists
**six essential elements for telling a good digital story.**


A good digital story shows the viewer what the content means to the teller. The teller has to dig deep to make meaning out of it. A good digital storyteller must determine what lesson or enduring understanding of the world this content material has provided for him/her. Stories such as these are not indifferent summaries of facts or events.
The digital story also provides intrigue for the viewer through pacing and clues, perhaps giving a twist at the end. A good digital story gets to the point by implementing an economical and purposeful combination of words and media (images, music/sound, animation, video). The display of these elements creates emotional meaning for the content and message of the story. Indeed the skill and craftsmanship of these entertaining media elements are used not to decorate but to reveal the lesson to be learned. The quality of the story is key to the success of any digital storytelling project.

j0336971.gifHas digital storytelling replaced/enhanced something else used for instruction?


Digital storytelling has changed student-centered communication as a reflection of learning. No more projects coupled with poster boards or podiums. The use of digital media to relate a "story" has energized classrooms. Skills identified as important for children growing up in a technology-driven society are developed. The advancement of student communication skills and creativity is without question. Moreover, digital storytelling provides the perfect environment for students to work in teams which collaborate on decision-making situations and task-oriented assignments. This is accomplished throughout the planning, production and post-production phases of their digital stories. The combination of these steps of creation is integral to the acquisition of knowledge as well as allowing for differentiated learning. Digital storytelling can be used to integrate subject area knowledge into several areas of the curriculum. Student understanding of the content material will be achieved on a much deeper level.

j0432653.pngGreat Examples of Digital Storytelling Applications:
  • Teachertube- The digital story below was made by an 8th grader, Julia, using Photo story.

  • - This article describes how three secondary school teachers successfully utilize digital media and Discovery Education unitedstreaming for digital storytelling projects in their social studies classrooms.
  • Schooltube - partnered with the STN (Student Television Network), this is a free media sharing site for teachers and students in an effort to produce quality student video projects of all kinds.
  • YouTube - "Digital Story" by high school senior, Kenji Johnson

j0336971.gifHow does it work for today's milennials? digital natives?

The art of storytelling has been identified as an age-old tradition of communication. Digital natives are seemingly comfortable with the complexities of digital technology. Milennials have even less difficulty with this adjustment. However, despite this comfort level, both groups require proper technological training. In addition to this training, digital natives and milennials must demonstrate an understanding of their selected content material. A deep personal understanding of the content's meaning is integrated into their story whether it be expository, narrative or persuasive in nature. Teachers provide these "digital" avenues for their students to employ both creativity and craftsmanship to tell their story effectively. Digital storytelling can be an effective method for instruction of any generation, digital immigrants included!

j0432653.pngDigital Storytelling Online Resources & Links:
Discovery Educator Network Digital Storytelling Blog (Joe Brennan)
Discovery Educator Network Media Matters Blog (Hall Davidson)

21st Century Connections - news, resources and links for digital storytelling enthusiasts
Music and Sound Sources - explore the possibilities at the Digitale website
http://eyespot.com/#|Eyespot - free online video editor/mixer
Picnik - free online image editor
Welcome to Meg's Storytelling Resources - Storyboards, video samples, inspiration templates, and more
JakeOnline.org - Dave Jake's excellent resource for all elements of digital storytelling - tools, downloads, tutorials, music, image websearching, new articles and more.
Movie Maker 2 Tutorial by Atomic Learning
Digital Storytelling Finds Its Place in the Classroom - article by Tom Banaszewski, elementary teacher who used Imovie in his classroom and how he has hooked his 4th graders on writing by using this digital tool.

j0432653.pngDigital Media Services:

Microsoft PhotoStory

j0336971.gifWhat might not work or needs to be addressed and why?

I, as well as many of my colleagues have hree major areas of concern that compromise the efficiency of this educational tool:

j0434799.pngDigital storytelling projects require a great deal of time to complete. In my experience, projects such as these take a few months to complete. The early phases of these projects (story development, storyboarding, screenwriting) can be done in the classroom in a timely manner. However, the filming and editing process is dependant upon lab and equipment accessiblity. Labs and equipment are used periodically by classes. This puts lengthy delays upon student project development.

j0434799.pngThe computer hard drives often cannot handle the amount of space several 3-5 minute movies use up. Computers crash, Many times computers lose updated material for movie projects which have not been consistently saved. Flashdrives, external hard drives, and online storage options might alleviate compute memory usage issues. Some video editing programs have "bugs" which slow the editing process down considerably. Tech support for these problems many times is not available on a consistent basis.

j0434799.pngSchools invest their funds to buy expensive software and hardware to promote technology as a teaching tool in their classrooms. However, schools must realize the importance of regular staff training and tech support for not only the use of the technology of digital storytelling (digital cameras, image/music collection and preparation, video editing programs) but also the pedagogy behind this educational tool. Without ample training and support of this training, teachers will not be able to teach their students how to create quality digital storytelling projects.


Brear, David (2007). Definition: What is Digital Storytelling. Digital Storytelling.
Brennan, Joe (2007). A Five Step Program. Discovery Educator Network Digital Storytelling.
Brinson, Jennifer, Dorman, Jennifer, & Langhorst, Eric (2007). History with a Twist. retrieved from Grazing for Digital Natives.
Davidson, Hall & Porter, Bernajean (2005). The Art of Digital Storytelling. retrieved from Digtales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories.
Free Spirit (2007). Teachertube
Johnson, Kenji (2007). My Digital Story. YouTube.
Ohler, Jason (2008). Art, Storytelling, Technology and Education: Resources for educators, parents, innovators. jasonOhler.com.
Orech, Jon (2007). Digital Storytelling: It's More Than Just Software. Techlearning.
Porter, Bernajean (2004). Take Six: Elements of a Good Digital Story. Digitales.
Porter, Bernajean (2004). Digitales The Art of Telling Digital Stories.

Go Back Homepage