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ETECH 511-Foundations of Educational Technology

Digital Storytelling A Platform For

Deeper Learning Within the Classroom
-Jenna Adema

Submitted On: December 10, 2016

Submitted By: Jennifer Adema
Submitted To: Matiul Alam-2016W1-Etech 511-64A

This paper examines the use of Digital Storytelling (DST) in the educational
classroom context. Increasingly, DST is emerging in the average classroom as a
form of storytelling. Storytelling is commonly used for education purposes and
DST is a modern extension of that. However, there are a number of reasons DST
use is increasing, beyond its close resemblance to Storytelling. The popularity of
DST within the classroom in part is due to the affordability and accessibility of
DST technology. With relatively low costs, effective DST artifacts can be created
and incorporated into the classroom. It is a versatile tool, much like Storytelling,
in that can be integrated across the curriculum, with a range of learning benefits
for students. Having said that, DST differs from Storytelling and therefore
encompasses a different set of learning for students, which for simplicity
purposes will be termed Deeper Learning. Furthermore, much of the
effectiveness in learning through DST hinges upon how it is used within the
classroom. There are useful Frameworks and Models teachers can utilize to aid
with DST implementation (ADDIE) and in understanding of the Deeper
Learning encompassed through DST (PCK). However, DST is not without
drawbacks: Time requirements, accessibility and teachers knowledge of
pedagogical frameworks for the assessing and the implementing DST affect the
effectiveness of DST and therefore the learning as well. That being said; does
DST have a legitimate place in the classroom as a vehicle for Deeper Learning?

Digital Storytelling, Deeper Learning, New Literacy Skills or 21 st Century Skills,
Seven Elements, ADDIE Model-Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, &
Evaluate, PCK Model-Pedagogical, Content & Knowledge

Rationale-Ongoing Debate:
Questions about the value of technology use in the classroom and its
significance to student learning is an ongoing debate. Classrooms are constantly
inundated with countless new educational fads designed to enhance student
learning. Parents, educators and administrators often heavily weigh technology
use and the educational benefit to students.
In 1983, Richard E. Clark famously argued that media have no
more effect on learning than a grocery truck has on the nutritional
value of the produce it brings to market. He also warned against
the temptation to compare media conditions to non-media
conditions in an attempt to validate or justify their use. Features of
instructional design and pedagogy, he argued, provide the real
active ingredient that determines the value of educational

(Tamin et al., 2011, as cited in Campbell 2012, p.386)

This ongoing debate is still relevant today, and brings us to question the role of
Digital Storytelling (DST) use within the classroom. With that being said, Robins
argues that educational administrators should change the focus from evaluating
technology itself to the ways technology can be used to bring out the very best in
how teachers teach and how best students learn and proposes DST as a
quintessential example (2008, p.221). With the growing popularity of DST, it
becomes increasingly important take what Robins has said to heart, and to
explore DST use in the classroom and whether or not it can bring out the very
best in instructing and learning. Research is demonstrating that digital
storytelling has the potential to transform pedagogical practices and provide
opportunities for new knowledge building and development of new literacy
(Nixon, 2009, p.64). This paper explores the use of (DST) within the classroom
as an effective platform for Deeper Learning of students, determining whether or
not DST has a legitimate place in the classroom. For the purposes of this paper,

Deeper Learning will be defined two fold in order to encompass traditional skills
and new 21st century literacy skills. Traditional skills include: academic skills such
as critical thinking, report writing and research skills to digital, oral and written
literacys (Kearney p.172). While new literacy skills or 21st century literacy skills
expand upon these skills and comprise of Digital literacythe ability to
communicate with an ever-expanding community to discuss issues, gather
information, and seek help; Global literacythe capacity to read, interpret,
respond, and contextualize messages from a global perspective; Technology
literacythe ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning,
productivity, and performance; Visual literacythe ability to understand, produce,
and communicate through visual images; Information literacythe ability to find,
evaluate, and synthesize information[ in addition to] Communication skills,
Critiquing skills, Social skills & Emotional Intelligence (Robin 2008, p.224).
Learners growing up in todays ever-changing digital age need to develop skills
beyond the traditional literacy skills. The students of today need to be able to
learn and adapt to new technologies, some yet to be invented. Shelby-Caffey et
al. advocates that as educators it is our responsibility to Expand [students]
repertoire of new literacy practices and cultivate their capacities for creating and
producing while combining the old with the new to better prepare them for a new
digital era (2014, p.192). Students need not only traditional skills commonly
taught but also new literacy skills, also known as, 21 st century skills-they need
Deeper Learning. Does Digital storytelling offer Deeper Learning for students?
Does DST have a legitimate place in the classroom? Essentially, Can DST be an
effective platform for Deeper Learning in students within the classroom context?
The Roots of Digital Storytelling (DST)
Perhaps because of its roots, DST is seemingly well suited to learning within the
classroom. Using storytelling as a teaching tool is not new to education. In fact,
Storytelling is one of the oldest methods of communicating and learningand is
a familiar means of facilitating young [learning in life for their] future and thus be

[better] prepared (Bratitis et al. 2015, p. 233). Throughout human history,

cultures from around the world use storytelling for entertaining, passing on
cultural knowledge, sharing experiences, imparting morals, and retelling history.
Examples of this are evident today: Cave Paintings, Hieroglyphics, First Nations
Myths, Legends, Fables and Fairytales are all familiar to us. Storytelling is deeply
rooted in the human existence and, more specifically, in human learning. [It]is
a powerful and widely used means for sharing with others our beliefs and views
about our lives and the world [making it a powerful learning tool] (Nixon, 2009,
p.64). Modern advances in technology have enabled the ancient art of
storytelling to evolve into a new genre-Digital Storytelling (DST). It has been
found that storytelling, including digital storytelling, can effectively impact
memory and learning and it is therefore widely used as an education tool (Sarica
et al. 2016, p.289). So, what is DST? How is it different?
Characteristics of Digital Storytelling (DST)
Digital Storytelling blends the traditional art of storytelling with new emerging
digital technologies and participatory media to communicate personal narratives
and stories. To clarify, Digital storytelling differs from digital writing, commonly
misunderstood. Digital writing, according to Wake, encompasses technologically
supported writing (e.g. tweets, blogs, social networking, word processing)
where as DST is a specific writing application in order to convey a short visual
and audio story (Wake, 2012, p. 26). The definition of DST oftentimes cited was
first coined by the Center for Digital Storytelling, pioneers of DST and currently
known as StoryCenter. DST is the modern expression of the ancient art of
storytelling [and] using digital media to create media-rich stories to tell, to
share, and to preserve (Lambert, 2002, as cited in Yuksel-Arslan et al., 2016,
p.427). Essentially, DST weaves together narrative, images (video and/or still)
and audio (music and/or voice) to create a short narrative or DTS artifact. These
DST artifacts are commonly categorizes into three types: personal stories,
informative/instructive stories & historical stories (PIH)(Robins 2008, as cited in

Yuksel-Arslan et al., 2016, p.428). Some researchers have expanded the

categories to include additional types including but not limited to: descriptive,
argumentative (or advocacy), dramatic and poetic stories (Kearney, 2011). For
the purposes of this paper, the initial three categories will be discussed. As
arguably, the three originally proposed categories (PIH) are more commonly
referred to in studies, and can encompass the later additional categories. PIH are
versatile, well suited to classroom use and used across the curriculum. Personal
stories can be summarized as a type of story where one tells of a personal
experience, usually eventful or meaningful in some way (Robins, 2008). Stories
that inform or instruct, present information and content in a range of subject
areas (Robins, 2008). Historical stories recount events from history (Robins,
2008). In all three DST types (PIH), it has been found the most effective DST
artifacts stress the importance of components of DST (Nam, 2016). The Center
for Digital Storytelling, or StoryCenter, outlines Seven Elements that are
essential components of effective DST:
1) Point of View- Intentionally told from the point of view of its creator,
2) Dramatic Question- An attention getter that works to pique viewers
3) Emotional Content- A storyline that draws the viewer in and stirs an
emotional connection,
4) Economy- Carefully crafting a script that relays the intended message
while adhering to a time limit of two to three minutes for the entire story,
5) Pacing- Maintaining a rhythm that keeps the audience interested,
6) The Gift of Voice- Using your voice to tell your story,
7) Soundtrack-The use of music to produce an emotional connection to
the story (StoryCenter, 2010, as cited in Nam, 2016).
Research demonstrates that attention to the Seven Elements, or components of
DST, results in higher quality DST artifacts and has a better impact on student
learning. In the Robins et al. study, it was observed when students worked
through the components of the DST in a thoughtful way, it influenced the
personalized elements of the script, the investment in learning new software,

listening to feedback and sensing their own progress (2012, p.38). In other
words, students were more invested in the DST artifact and demonstrated a
greater degree of learning. Why is DST use emerging within the classroom? And
What does DST look like within the Classroom?
Digital Storytelling (DST) Within the Classroom-The Growing Emergence &
A Pedagogical Framework (ADDIE)
Digital Storytelling is increasingly finding a place in the classroom setting, above
and beyond its storytelling roots. More and more, teachers are using [DST as a]
powerful learning tool for instruction across curricular subjects (Campbell, 2012,
p.387). You can find examples of DST in classrooms K-12, special education,
higher education and adult education. There are a number of commonly
discussed reasons for this. The ease and affordability of incorporating DST is
one factor; hardware and software for DST are economical for most classrooms
and much DST tools and software can be found existing, open source and for
free. Additionally, DST can be created with relatively minimal tools in the
classroom setting [and] can be produced with such software as iMovie, Windows
Movie Maker, and Photo Story, programs which do not require Internet access at
all (Morris, 2013, p.55). Many schools are equipped with computers labs, making
computers, scanners, digital cameras, and audio recording devices accessible. It
appears that DTS affordable technology hardware and software, meshes
perfectly with the needs of many of todays classrooms (Robins, 2008, p.222).
Secondly, because of the adaptable nature of DST the three types (PIH) can
easily be incorporated into the classroom across the curriculum. DST can be
used in any content area; there is a range across the curriculum [for] storytelling
purposes, including sharing personal narratives, and pursuing and presenting
[Ultimately], teachers are finding DST easy to incorporate in the classroom
setting for all ages and all settings (Yuksel-Arslan et al. 2016, p.429). Teachers
find the use of DST a handy tool for classroom instruction, and use previously
created digital stories with their students to introduce content and capture

students attention...[and] also create digital stories in the larger unit to capture
interest and facilitate discussion (Robin et al., 2012, p.38).
Furthermore, research hinges the success of learning through DST on a clear
pedagogical framework and guidelines within the classroom. Yuksel-Arslan et al.
found that DST is an appropriate technology for classroom setting and that
following guidelines improves the experience and learning for students and
teachers alike (2016). DST is initially a complex process for students. Kearney,
touches upon this issue stating DST tasks are typically open-ended, ill-defined
and more challenging it can be difficult to implement because the digital stories
may integrate skills from a range of disciplines, particularly those that relate to
creativity components (Kearney, 2011, p.172). The success of DST depends on
the teachers ability to consciously guide the students through the DST process.
It was found by Marier et al., that the process of creating DST artifacts requires a
well thought out scaffolding and planning to break up tasks for students into clear
steps allowing them to work towards a goal, not immediately attainable (2007,
p.178). Pedagogical frameworks along with the appropriate use of rubrics and
assessments are recommended by almost all studies (Kearney, 2011 p.172).
Following a pedagogical framework for DST helps students tell more meaningful
digital stories and in turn enhances student learning (Robin et al. 2012, p.38).
There has yet to be consensus on a singular framework; however, Robins &
McNeils journal What Educators Should Know about Teaching Digital
Storytelling highlighted the ADDIE Model or Framework (2012). Robins et al.
researchers noted the ADDIE Model is not a new Framework and contains
many elements similar to most instructional models, in which many DST
researchers advocate for (Robins et al. 2012). The ADDIE Framework-Analysis,
Design, Develop, Implement & Evaluate, proposed by Robins et al. is a
constructive guideline to effectively incorporate DST within the classroom. Below
is a brief outline of ADDIE:

Analysis- Analyze the purpose and aspects of the DST related to

topic, script and audience. Distinguish the elements of a DST,

analyze the audience, develop a script accordingly, choose an

interesting topic and add a personal connection

Design-How should ideas be presented. Write a detailed script,
create a detailed storyboard, organize all the materials, use visually
interesting images, invent/create images, use high quality material,

and address issues of copyright and fair use

Develop-Create DST artifact using DST software. Use blank slides
for titles and fades, record high quality audio, thoughtful use of
additional multimedia elements, use meaningful file names for
images and other media, Edit a copy (not original file), save files

often, and save final in DST version in different formats.

Implement- Where and how to use within the classroom. Develop

supplement educational materials.

Evaluate- Asses whether or not the DST artifact was successful in
meeting goals. Provide supportive feedback to others in initial
phases, and involves students in evaluation throughout entire
process, provide supportive evaluation & assessment tools (Robins
et al., 2012)

Mindful implementation of DST within the classroom is effective in aiding Deeper

Learning. However, what is that learning?
Digital Storytelling (DST) Impact on Students LearningDeeper Learning &
Learning Framework (PCK)
A burgeoning pool of research is revealing Digital Storytelling has the capacity to
engage student and contribute to Deeper Learning, as previously defined
encompasses traditional and 21st century literacy skills. According to ShelbyCaffey et al. in order to participate in this rapidly changing technological
environment new standards and definitions have broadened to encompass new
forms of literacy that incorporate [skills needed] for interacting, comprehending
and responding to information and communication technologies... The literate of
the twentyfirst century must be able to download, upload, rip, burn, chat, save,

blog, skype, IM and share in addition to traditional skills concluding that DST
provides such learning (2014, p.191). Many studies cite the benefits of learning
through DST that can be under the umbrella of what this paper defines as
Deeper Learning. Findings indicate, a well-designed DST artifacts encourages
student engagement, autonomous learning, in addition to a wide range of other
valuable learning outcomes, including traditional and new literacy skills (Kearney,
2011). Robins work echoes DST findings on learning benefits, discussing in the
integration of images and text in DST is a powerful instructional tool to capture
the attention, engage students and increase motivation, which accelerates
student learning; additionally Robins suggests students learning in a range of
skills including traditional & 21st century skills in which DST fosters (2008).
Morris touches upon students Deeper Learning through DST, and discusses
learning that goes beyond the 21st century learning skills and contributes to life
long learning skills (2013). Similarly, Sawyer et al. discusses life skills, emotional
intelligence and empathy cultivated through the DST process in adolescents
(2011). The Deeper Learning fostered through DST is an intricate web of skills
researchers are grappling to define. Sarica et al. found the interrelationships of
learning through DST were interconnected with one another in a complex web of
skills including but not limited to: listening skills, general knowledge, literacy
skills, language skills, 3D skills, communicative skills, emotional intelligence,
social skills, critical thinking skills, reading skills, visual memory skills, writing
skills, listening skills, Digital skills, Problem solving skills, & creativity skills, much
of which is encompassed in the previous definition of Deeper Learning (2016).
DTS is a powerful learning tool. Elahi et al. suggest using an adapted
Pedagogical, Content, Knowledge Model (PCK) to help educators identify and
better understand the depth of skills learned through DST (2016). PCK refers to:

Pedagogical-working skills learned from strategies constructed from

different subject sources

Content-understanding content knowledge of particular subject
Knowledge- skills learned from use of technology, stories & digital
artifacts (Elahi et al., 2016).

It appears DST has an expansive and vast benefit to student learning within the

classroom; however, research indicates DST is not without its drawbacks.

Challenges and limitations facing Digital Storytelling (DST)
DST has a number of challenges and limitations that effect DST learning within
the classroom. Given the nature of DST, in that it draws upon many subject areas
(technology, storytelling, art, etc), uses technology and is open ended/creative,
it is a complex learning tool that is taxing on time, technology, frameworks and
assessment. First of all, DST takes significant time to implement properly within
the classroom. Kordaki et al. discusses that DST is demanding of time required
to access digital resources, and teachers need time to understand both the
technology and pedagogy of DST for effective results (2010). Further more,
students need time to complete a complex task where the DST design
emphasizes, the story, technology and school curricula (Kordaki et al. 2010). Not
all classrooms have the time required to do Deeper Learning through DST
Secondly, technology access can surprisingly still be an issue in this day and
age. Although, as previously discussed, DST is generally regarded as an
accessible and affordable tool for classrooms as most schools are commonly
equipped with computer labs and all the DST tools required, technology is still a
barrier. Because technology is simply required for DST the accessibility of
technological tools is not always guaranteed in schools. Yursel-Arslan et al.
mentioned in their study, that technology access was an issue, and referenced
that the number of students per classroom and the amount of technology
accessible can impact effective DST use in the classroom (2016). Not to mention
there is a growing concern over the Digital Divide in rural vs. urban schools,
where there is unequal access, resource and knowledge for digital technologies
that DST can highlight (Maier et al., 2007). The Digital Divide issue, is not unique
to DST, and it extends to many areas where there is technology use.

Lastly, DST in of itself is a complex process. This impacts not only the DST
process in the classroom but also the understanding and assessment of Deeper
Learning. Researchers have found it helpful if DST activities are framed carefully
and explicitly tied to the core content and process goals (Hofer and Swan, 2006).
Frameworks, such as ADDIE previously introduced, can aid teachers in
breaking down the DST process for simplifying the process when instructing
students within the classroom setting. The Deep Learning understanding and
assessment is also impacted, particularly as [DST] encompasses a range of
skills, processes and content goals. [Making it difficult] to assess because the
digital stories may integrate skills from a range of disciplines, particularly those
that relate to creativity components (Kearny p.172). The PCK Model,
discussed earlier, is an appropriate instrument in which teachers can utilize to
underpin the Deeper Learning in DST. Robins discussed DST learning in that it
is difficult to assess higher order skills that are not easy testable scores (2008).
With that being said understanding of the Deeper Learning and assessment
tools such as rubrics are also widely recommended. In light of all these
challenges facing DST use within the classroom is growing. Where do we go
from here?
Conclusion: Digital Storytelling (DST) Future
Literature demonstrates that DST is a powerful tool that enhances traditional
teaching methods to create an exciting and engaging learning environment that
promotes Deeper Learning. Because of DST roots (Storytelling) and DST tools
accessibility teachers have increasingly turned to DST in order to teach content
and learning outcomes within the classroom. DST aids teachers to teach content
to students to experience a range of learning through DST and therefore has a
legitimate place within the classroom as a platform for learning. This paper terms
that range of learning as Deeper Learning and can simply be defined as a
blending of traditional skills and 21st century skills, previously discussed in
greater detail. However, because of the limitations of DST it may not be an

appropriate vehicle for learning in all classroom settings and contexts. Individual
teachers need to take care to utilize frameworks such as the ADDIE Model and
PCK when employing DST for the process & assessment as it greatly impacts
the Deeper Learning for students. That being said it would be good to explore
DST use in the classroom for Deeper Learning further. There was limited
research on any one specific age group and where DST is most ideally suited
within the classroom setting. Some questions to explore could be: Is there a best
age group to use DST with (elementary, intermediate, secondary, & post
secondary)? Similarly, Is there an ideal subject particularly well suited to DST?
Do certain student populations receive more or less benefit to learning through
DST (at risk, gender, disabilities, ethnicity)?

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