Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling

Lee Christopher (Arapahoe Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-046-4.ch023
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It is the purpose of this chapter to introduce and discuss one ancient and proven methodology made new with technology that can help to close the technological gap between teachers, and students—Digital Storytelling. In this chapter the definition of what a story is and what a digital story is given. Included in this chapter is a discussion on the theoretical framework for the story with examples. Also, in this chapter is a brief overview of recommended future research in the area of Digital Storytelling. Further, included in this chapter is a discussion concerning the benefits and limitations of this methodology and how the limitations can be addressed.
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Digital Storytelling


Today we live in a world over-flowing with new challenges and opportunities. Technological advances occur with mind boggling rapidity. The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back. Our neighborhood is no longer a few square blocks. Our neighborhood is the world. When a tsunami or earthquake happens thousands of miles away, we know about it within minutes. In our increasingly diverse and complex world, integrating technology in education has become a necessity rather than a choice. We, as educators, need to prepare students to meet the demands of this global community and workplace. The educational environment of today creates almost unlimited possibilities for transformation. Digital Storytelling is one avenue for transformative learning to occur.

In the keynote address at the Technology in Education Conference in Copper Mountain, Colorado, Richardson (2007) said,

Having the world of information at our fingertips on the Web was in itself a powerful transformation, but being able to contribute our own knowledge and ideas and collaborate in the construction of content is even more powerful. In this environment, traditional ideas about schooling and learning are challenged at every turn. We have over a billion potential teachers, and we learn through the conversations that this new Web facilitates more than the content that is delivered to us. Information and knowledge is no longer scarce, and neither is constant. In almost every way, this Web changes the way we must think about our roles as educators and learners in the 21st Century.”

The president of the National Education Association (NEA) Dennis Van Roekel (2008) asserted,

Students today live in a wired world, and most of them are adept at using computers to find information, play or upload video clips, and even create personal Web pages. The digital age has dawned, but too many of our schools still rely on models from 1908 to meet the growing and changing needs of the 21st century. Simply put, many of our approaches are outmoded and out of touch, which makes it harder for educators to challenge students and hold their interest.

Nasseh (2002) said that the internet-generation of adult learners are creating serious challenges for higher education and their needs must be considered when we talk about education. Digital Storytelling is one way these challenges can be addressed.

The definition of learning is changing rapidly. Not long ago, a college degree and mastery of a body of knowledge was adequate for a lifelong career. But today—in addition to mastery of a body of knowledge—students must develop critical thinking and teamwork abilities, learn accessing and processing information, communication skills, digital collaboration, and develop a baseline knowledge of information technology and lifelong learning skills.” (Nasseh, 2002, p.2)

Traditional learning tools are chalkboards or whiteboards, pencils, typewriters, and books. 21st century learning tools include these plus computers with high-speed internet, high-end graphics, and instantly published audio and video capabilities. With the advent of these new technologies, a technology gap is increasing between teachers and students.

To help bridge this gap between teachers and students, Prensky (2001) suggests: “We need to invent Digital Native methodologies for all subjects, at all levels, using our students to guide us.” For clarification, Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants are accepted terms in the literature and were first coined by Prensky (2001). Digital Natives refers to anyone who has grown up with computers, video games, and other digital devices. Digital Immigrants refers to anyone typically who has not grown up with computers and other digital devices (Prensky, 2001).

It is the purpose of this paper to introduce and discuss one ancient and proven methodology made new with technology that can help to close the technological gap between teachers, and students and help to create an environment where transformative learning can take place—Digital Storytelling. In this paper, once the distinction is made between a story and a digital story, the author will use the term story and digital story interchangeably throughout. Included in this paper is a discussion of the theoretical framework for the story with examples.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rubrics: Guidelines for assessment.

Reflection: The act of thinking about what has happened.

Digital Storytelling: The telling of a story using technology as the delivery method.

Transformative Learning: This type of learning is when a person is changed in some way as the result of the learning.

Story Grammar: The grammar of the story is how the story is told and includes such things as plot, suspense, climax, and characters.

Digital Natives: These are people who have grown up with technology.

Story: A narrative that can be real or fictional.

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