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Digital storytelling - the combination of narrative with digital media - emerged as a practice in the 1990s but can still be considered an emerging area of activity (McLellan, 2006: 66) and as an adaptation of the storytelling tradition which has existed for more than 6,000 years (Abrahamson, 1998). Digital stories have been described by The Digital Storytelling Association (http://www.dsaweb.org/) as 'the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling'.  Meadows (2003) identifies it as a social practice, telling stories with easily accessible low-cost technology.  A ‘typical’ digital story will be created by a single author, will last for 2-3 minutes and will consist of no more than 15 still images with a narrative of 250-300 words (Hartley & McWilliam, 2009; Gravestock & Jenkins, 2009).  These parameters are based on what is called the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) tradition of digital storytelling (Hartley & McWilliam, 2009).  This approach emerged during the 1990s based on the work of Joe Lambert and Dana Atchley (Lambert, 2009) and was added to through projects such as the BBC Capture Wales initiative (Meadows & Kidd, 2009).  These developments exploited the increasing access to digital audio and photography.   


The use and application of digital storytelling has continued to evolve and with the expansion of technological tools, especially Web2.0 (Alexander & Levine, 2008), clearly defining what a digital story is becoming increasingly more difficult.  Ohler (2008) recognises this and uses the more global term, ‘new media narrative’, although he acknowledges that the term 'digital storytelling' is more recognisable; however, the term ‘new media narrative’ does help reinforce the point that the emphasis of digital storytelling has to be on the story itself, rather than the technology.  “Story without digital works, but digital without story doesn’t” (Ohler, 2008, p.xviii).  Digital storytelling is therefore not a clearly definable genre, which is why careful consideration needs to be given to why and how it is being used (see Getting started with digital storytelling, Web2.0 Sorytelling and New Media Narratives).


A significant part of this synthesis will focus upon the use of the traditionally-defined digital storytelling in higher education; however, it will also cover how its interpretation and use is being expanded in respect of even more accessible technologies such as Web2.0.


The structure of the synthesis is outlined below.  Examples of digital storytelling use will be used to illustrate the information provided.  These will be in the form of links to published research, case studies and, where available, examples of digital stories that are accessible via the Internet.





Digital Storytelling and Teaching and Learning

                Exploring digital storytelling

                                The Centre for Digital Storytelling tradition

                                New media narratives

                                Web2.0 storytelling

                Storytelling and teaching and learning

                Digital storytelling in higher education


                                Assessment criteria for digital storytelling


                               21st Century Literacy 


Practical Issues

               Getting started with digital storytelling

               IPR and Copyright



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