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Examples of Digital Storytelling Use

Page history last edited by Martin Jenkins 13 years, 8 months ago


McLellan (2006: 73), while recognising that digital storytelling has applications in a range of disciplines, prioritises its use for personal stories, digital story archives, memorial stories, avocational stories, educational stories and stories in medicine and health.  This usage can be said to reflect the agentive nature of storytelling.  A consequence of this also is that while there are many such examples of digital stories on the Internet.  Examples of personal stories, of varying quality, ranging from the quality BBC Capture Wales project through to more local community development are many.  Use within medicine and health is highlighted through projects such as Patients Voice (http://www.patient-voices.org/) but not unexpectedly where digital stories might be used for therapeutic reasons examples are limited.


With regard to educational uses of digital storytelling in higher education the range of examples available to view is less broad.  Intellectual property and copyright issues will be a factor in this, as noted by Gravestock (2009).  However, as McLellan notes digital storytelling has a potentially wide application.  The table below presents a list of examples of use from a range of disciplines for different purposes with links to either actual digital stories, textual case studies or associated publications.  Where information was available then a brief outline of the application is provided under the headings: Purpose, Audience, Form.


Discipline or use


Further details


Purpose: digital storytelling was introduced as an alternative to the traditional PowerPoint group-based presentation. 

Audience: this was a summatively assessed piece of work as part of a first year skills development module.

Form: the stories were created as a form of presentation rather than as a reflective piece.  The length of the stories was long, usually more than 10 minutes.



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Jenkins & Lonsdale (2008)

American Studies

Purpose: the use of digital storytelling as a critical pedagogy in American Studies to open up ‘contact zones’ between the cognitive and affective.  To develop personal perspective and student voice. 

Audience: a summatively assessed piece of work seeking to allow students to demonstrate a personal perspective.

Form: short (4-5 minutes) individually produced stories.



See also:


Oppermann (2008)


Example stories can be viewed at:




Institution: University of Houston



Business Management

Purpose: digital storytelling was deliberately chosen as an alternative form of assessment to the traditional group presentation to challenge the student group.  Its use was designed to move the students out of any possible strategic approach to their learning.

Audience: this was an assessed piece of work for a final-year module on Managing Change.  The module tutor wanted the students to experience change.

Form: working in small groups the students were challenged to be creative in the digital stories they produced.  As a consequence many of the stories are forms of ‘new media narrative’ using video and other material captured from the web.  The stories tended to be long, over 10 minutes in length.



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Gravestock & Jenkins (2009);

Case Study 4; Sample stories which students uploaded to YouTube - Example 1; Example 2



Cultural Studies

Purpose: Masters level programme, Communication, Culture and Technology.  Digital storytelling is purposefully used to enable students’ engagement with gender theory.  This approach is used as the process of creating a digital story allows for iteration of students learning through different media.

Audience: stories are for summative assessment.  Formative stages are built into the process, with feedback from both staff and colleagues.

Form: the stories are individually created.  In addition to the digital stories students are required to produce written work including a proposal, literature review, explanation of artefacts that will be used and an outline of what the final product is expected to be like. 



Example story ‘All made up’ (Kathy Bayer, Georgetown) available from https://digitalcommons.georgetown.edu/projects/digitalstories/



Institution: Georgetown University

Coventry (2008)


Purpose: Used as part of a core ICT unit in a BEd (Early Childhood) program.  Devised as an authentic activity, students were tasked to write a story suitable for children.  They then had to create a digital version of this story using iPods and other technologies.  The task was designed to prepare students for a 21st Century classroom and introduce them to a range of technologies through the use of them rather than learning about them.

Audience: On completion the stories were shown to the class as a whole with a presentation on the creation and design processes.

Form: Students worked in groups of 2-3 to produce the ‘childrens story’.



Institution: University of Wollongong

Olney et al (2009)

Educational Psychology

Purpose: digital stories are used as a means of sharing ‘stories’ about practice.  For example, how to improve the experiences for autistic children by managing uncertainty in specific situations. 

Audience: these stories are firmly about sharing practice but can be aimed at fellow professionals or at family members. 

Form: produced as very short bite sized films that are readily accessible.  In this example animated images are used to avoid any ethical issues with images.  The informal format makes them accessible to families as well as fellow professionals.



An example story on the BBC Capture Wales site, with an explanation, from Professor Colin Terrell, Educational Psychologist, University of Gloucestershire


Purpose: Digital storytelling was introduced as part of the student induction (transition into HE programme).  It was chosen as a group activity to encourage students to reflect on the academic activity they were engaged in as part of the induction. 

Audience: the digital stories were used formatively.  They were shown to the whole group at the end of the induction week and students were given indicative feedback.

Form: short stories of 2-3 minutes produced through students working in groups of 5-6.  The style of the stories were mostly in report form rather than personal narratives.



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Jenkins & Lynch (2007); Jenkins & Lonsdale (2008); Gravestock & Jenkins (2009); Case Study 3


Example stories can be viewed at:




Institution: University of Houston




Purpose: Latina Life Stories unit at California State University, Monterey Bay.  Students are required to produce a story reflecting on a significant moment, person or event that has helped shape their identity.  Students are also required to write a short reflective essay on completion of the digital story linking to theory and their understanding of concepts of identity.

Audience: The stories are summatively assessed.  However, the stories are shown to the whole class when complete and the process of development involves in-class opportunities for sharing and discussion.  This whole class involvement has a community development impact on the group.

Form: the stories are short, 3 minutes long, individual stories, produced as very personal narratives. 



Example story ‘Dancing into mi cultura’ (Liliana Cabrera-Murillo) available from https://digitalcommons.georgetown.edu/projects/digitalstories/



Institution: California State University, Monterey Bay

Benmayor (2008)

Landscape Design

Purpose: First year Landscape Design course, which uses digital storytelling as a means for students to reflect on how their own personal development as designers.  The use of digital storytelling allows students to use images of their models to demonstrate how ideas have developed with a reflective narrative.

Audience: Created as personal narratives the stories were, when initially used, seen only by staff.  Stories are now shown to the class reflecting also the studio culture of the landscape discipline.  The stories form a small proportion of the assessment for the unit.

Form: stories are produced individually as personal narratives.  Length of the stories is short, 2-3 minutes.



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Gravestock & Jenkins (2009); Case Study 1

Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality

Purpose: Final year Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality students are required to reflect on a critical incident from their industrial placement as part of their degree.  The digital stories are a personal reflection on how the critical incident has affected their own personal development and sense of self.

Audience: This is a summatively assessed piece of work.

Form: The students are supported through the narrative development through the use of activities based on models of reflection.  The stories are short, 3-4 minutes in length.



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Olivia Lewis – digital story from student on International Hospitality


Example stories can be viewed at:




Institution: University of Houston



Media Studies

Purpose: Example of a community based project between the University of Gloucestershire and local school.  Second year Radio Production and Media students mentored local school children as they produced digital stories on the theme of ‘Childhood’. 

Audience: The stories produced by the local school children were shown to parents and school colleagues at a local film festival. 

Form: The process for creating the digital stories was based on the model developed by the Center for Digital Storytelling tradition.



Media studies students work with primary school children to help them in the creation of digital stories.

Case study from Knowledge West [pdf]


Purpose: Example of using digital stories to capture and articulate deep professional learning.  Informed by a concern that student nurses underestimate the extent of practice-based learning.  The use of stories was tried as a mechanism to reveal the students tacit knowledge.

Audience: Produced by final year undergraduate student nurses.

Form: Based on the Center for Digital Storytelling tradition, the stories are individually produced stories lasting 2-3 minutes.


Further information is avialable on the SCEPTRE Learning to be Professional wiki.



This includes example stories, a short video of the students talking about their experiences, and a copy of a presentation from Jane Leng the tutor for this course:


Leng, J (2009) The value of digital storytelling in learning to be professional

Leng (2009) The value of digital storytelling in learning to be professional

Public History Projects

Purpose: digital storytelling has found widespread usage in community based projects such as public history projects.  They provide an alternative form of representation to the traditional narrative based interview transcripts.  Recognising that memory is immutable (Klaebe, 2006) digital storytelling also provides a good way of gathering historical data that is located in the present rather than ‘memorializing the past’ (Klaebe, 2006: 8)



Audience: digital stories created for public history projects are often formal in nature and designed to capture individuals experiences.  They often made available on public web sites.  The process of creating these stories has been often found to have an impact on community development, they help to develop a collective sense of identity.  Researchers are now using digital storytelling as a technique.



Form: told as individual personal narratives and following the CDS tradition the workshop activity is a key part of the community development process.  The process can be an emotional experience (Klaebe, 2006: Meadows & Kidd, 2009)



For example projects:



BBC Capture Wales



Kelvin Grove Urban Village




Example stories can be viewed at:




Institution: University of Houston




Purpose: Digital storytelling used in this first year Science module, on Ecology, Evolution and Genetics, so that students would: reflect on the personal significance of what they had learned and express their ideas in a non-traditional manner. 

Audience: An summatively assessed piece of work, on a pass/fail basis but this form was used also to provide the opportunity for students to share their thoughts and experiences via the digital stories.

Form: Individually produced stories, many as personal reflections.  Students were given the opportunity to choose whether to allow their story to be shown publicly and over half declined.



Institution: University of British Columbia

Prud’homme Genereux & Thompson (2008)



Example stories can be viewed at:




Institution: University of Houston



Sports Development

Purpose: A second year Sport Development programme in which digital storytelling was introduced to replace a reflective essay.  Students are asked to reflect on the role of their own chosen sport on their personal development.

Audience: The stories are summatively assessed.  The final stories are seen only by the staff assessing the module.

Form: Produced as personal narratives, they are short digital stories of 3-5 minutes. 



Institution: University of Gloucestershire

Gravestock & Jenkins (2009); Case study 2

Student Presentation

See Business Management



Student Reflection

Example stories can be viewed at:

http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/personal_reflection.html (University of Houston)



See also:

Environment; Sports Development; Leisure Tourism and Hospitality





Transition into Higher Education

See Environment






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