July 18, 2003

Digital Storytelling and Education

Some time back I came across the suggestion (by Richard Feynman, I think?) that if a scientist could not explain what they did to a nonscientist in 15 minutes or less, they were a quack. This may be a little too harsh - in my experience, the difficulty many scientists have in communicating what they do has less to do with quackery and more to do with the fact that, unlike Feynman, they are poor or downright bad storytellers. Which brings me to the subject of today's post: digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling can best be viewed as an expansion of traditional storytelling arts and techniques. My own introduction to the subject came some years back via Joe Lambert, Nina Mullen, and the late Dana Atchley. Their creation, the Center for Digital Storytelling, can be reached at http://www.storycenter.org. I strongly recommend checking this site out - it contains excellent examples of the craft, as well as resources for those people interested in implementing digital storytelling programs. More recently, Scott Rosenberg has started a site called Storyvine (at http://www.storyvine.com) with a good collection of links, materials, and news on digital storytelling.

I would argue that digital storytelling has an important role to play in education at all levels. For one thing, it provides students and teachers with a rich and interesting range of concepts and tools to express their ideas in ways they might not have thought possible before. For another, it has the potential to revive the interest of jaded students - perhaps worn out by one too many of those lethal "What I Did During My Summer Vacation" assignments - in telling stories, and telling them well.

Many people have fascinating stories to tell about their work that deserve a better audience, both within and without the bounds of their own disciplines - this is one way to teach them how to tell these stories.

Posted by Ruben at July 18, 2003 5:02 PM

I agree about the power of storytelling- it is a subject most people can become passionate about, and in passion there is energy, motivation, etc.

A few of our colleges have very successful digital story telling courses that fill every time and another college has an entire institute devoted to integrating storytelling into education:


While I am a big fan of Dana Atchley's work and the digital story center, I think there is room for other mediums beside digital video. Back in 1998 we created a story writing web site built aound the structure of the Hero's Journey


and since then, running on its own, the site has accumulated the efforts of more than 10,000 individuals, not nearly all complete or great works.

This is where technology should be exploited; giving the creation and exploration in the hands of the learner, not for the creation of materials to be presented to the learner.
Looking forward to the work you develop here,


Posted by: Alan Levine at July 23, 2003 3:38 PM

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Posted by: Sigred Philipsen at November 17, 2003 7:52 PM

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Posted by: dan at August 2, 2005 10:59 PM