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What is Digital Storytelling?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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Digital storytelling is a form of storytelling which is accomplished through the use of technology. It is a significant divergence from the oral tradition in many cultures in which stories are passed on from person to person, and from the tradition of written storytelling. Digital storytelling is dynamic, sometimes described as a multimedia approach to storytelling, and it has a number of uses. Some places where digital storytelling can be seen include classrooms, museums, historical societies, and community organizations.

With digital storytelling, there are a number of ways to present the story. Someone may narrate, in their own voice, while images and words are displayed on a screen. Digital storytelling can also incorporate videos, music, audio from other sources, and other artistic expressions to tell a story. While first person storytelling continues to be popular, other perspectives can be taken by the narrator as desired.

Digital storytelling can last two to 10 minutes, depending on the story. It may include features such as a choose your own adventure element, which allows people to interact directly with the story, and requires the creation of a branching story which provides an array of options for people who want to engage with the story. It may be embedded in a website, displayed on a screen, or included in an audio tour.

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In the classroom, digital storytelling can be used in a variety of educational ways. Students can create their own digital stories, learning how to use the technology behind digital storytelling while they record stories about their own lives, or myths which they have created. Teachers can also present material in digital form. For example, a teacher doing a unit on Native American mythology might display digital stories put together by Native American Elders to allow students to connect with the stories and the people who belong to the culture in which the stories continue to be told.

For historical archiving, digital storytelling can be very valuable. Many oral history projects which collect stories and data from older adults who have lived through events of interest can use digital storytelling to record these stories. Some people invited to tell their stories may enjoy turning them into digital stories, while others may simply contribute audio and images of artifacts which a historian can use in a digital story. This storytelling technique is also used to provide information to visitors to museums, communities of historical interest, and so forth.

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