Digital Storytelling During the Pandemic - Tips & Tools for Teachers

Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.

There are a variety of other terms used to describe this practice, such as digital documentaries, computer-based narratives, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive storytelling, etc.; but in general, all of them revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.  

This is a great way for teachers to encourage the creative use of technology in learning. The process can be used with almost any subject, and with the abundance of apps and tools available; and suitable for every classroom. 

Why should you introduce digital storytelling in your class?

There are four major benefits of digital storytelling:

1. It becomes a source of encouragement for artistic students 

Having digital storytelling session can help artistically inclined use their talents and passions to get creative. Even student musicians, actors, cartoonists, photographers, graphic artists, rappers and singers can contribute their skill sets to their group’s digital stories. 

Their passion for the artistic aspect of this project might also motivate them to learn new skills to ensure they succeed. For example, a student who can showcase act on a script written by her own self within a digital story about peer pressure might be more inclined to study video editing, work with the video recorders to connect the story arc with her act, and collaborate with the director so the staging and lighting fit her performance. 

2. It gives English learners a new way to communicate

English learners can effectively communicate their stories through digital media as it allows them to articulate their thoughts. They can practice, record, listen to themselves and rerecord if required. 

Digital storytelling also shows students struggling with the language that each one has a story to tell; but portrayal of a story could be different. One can simply, narrate a story or take help of their talents, technology or go for teamwork. 

Besides these, beginning, intermediate and advanced English learners can help each other in putting forth their voices.  

3. It turns tech-savvy students into teachers

Digital story-telling allows students with knowledge of tools like iMovieGoAnimateiMotionHD or Adobe Photoshop to help other classmates. Those students actually become a teacher to students unfamiliar with any of the mentioned apps. 

This activity not only boosts their confidence, but it also helps everyone progress collectively. 

4. It creates a peer-centered learning environment

Whilst your objectives will be a central point in the digital storytelling process, this project can help create a powerful learning environment in your classroom. Digital storytelling mixes different media and skills; and creates a powerful exchange of information. 

In this process, students work together, learn from each other and recognize the value of storytelling as an art form. Not only this, they also learn from their peers by developing awareness as well as empathy based on the digital stories they choose to create and share with each other and online. 

How to use Digital Storytelling in your eClasses? (Tips)


Learn from what you watch

You probably would have either one or two movies on your list that you adore and could watch again and again. Think upon it, what makes them so effective? Is it the dialogue, the character development, the way shots are framed? Also, consider movies that you don’t like and why. Do the same with your learners work with them to dissect several well-known films; soon you’ll find yourselves with several categories that fall under the rubric of storytelling techniques and be amazed at how much you already know. 

Perceive technology as a storytelling tool, not as a teaching goal

It is obvious to have curious students who want to know about the newly introduced equipment, so when teaching about technology rather focusing wholly on the curriculum, teach in a friendly-way. Editing programs such as iMovie are intuitive and easy to learn. All you need is a good camera or phone and a computer and you're ready to go; your creative aspirations will drive your technology learning curve. Once you think of an element you want to include that seeks for more advanced software or gear, you'll be compelled to learn how to use it. 

Allow your students to take the lead

Children of present generation are more tech-savvy, they may learn faster than you do. Rather getting intimidated by them, use their aptitude to your advantage by letting them teach each other; you'll find that they show their strengths fairly quickly. You may also find that there are great writers, editors, camera operators, and technicians in your class and they can improve their weaker points while using their strengths to help peers and you as well.

Learn by trial and error

While learning new technology, there might come a moment where you may have trouble and wonder “why it isn’t working?” You may seek out multiple resources to get an answer as soon as possible. But, at every glitch you’ll be more technology savvy and soon get to the point where you can anticipate the kinds of problems students will have. That’s what trial and error method do, it helps you master, by learning from your mistakes.

Give your students freedom, but hold them accountable

Not every kid is used to the kind of freedom they require to do great creative work. Some will thrive in the set environment; while others will require close supervision to make sure they complete their projects.  

Ask them what they’re comfortable in; give them an opportunity to complete the project, in their own way. If in case, you have trouble in managing students, especially when teaching remotely, have your students pitch a one-paragraph description of their project and provide a production schedule; as a work contract.

Regard yourself as the executive producer

When practicing storytelling with your students, you’ve to call the shots. It’s you, who have to be the arbiter of good taste and the studio boss, decide whether an idea is production worthy. This leadership will help students perform better.

Celebrate your students' work

A small word of appreciation can be a great source of encouragement for students. So whether your students show completed projects with small mistakes or something much more professional than your expectation, celebrate their work and showcase it on your screen or praise their efforts. This will, of course encourage them, take their work serious for the next time and become a source of tremendous inspiration for their peers. 

What tools to use for Digital Storytelling?


30hands Learning

It is a user-friendly iOS app with video tutorials to help users create a video story by adding narration to images. 

Animaker Class

It is a drag-and-drop tool for students that also offer features such as group management, an in-app messenger, and task tracking.  

Book Creator

Book Creator, a mobile (iOS/Chrome) app allows putting together of stunning eBooks and digital stories with text, audio, images, and video.  

Buncee

Buncee is a digital canvas that includes an educational portal where educators can track and monitor student progress, create assignments, share an "Ideas Lab," and more.  

Cloud Stop Motion

Using Cloud Stop Motion users can create stop-motion video projects from any browser or device and use for digital storytelling or project-based learning.  

Comic Life

It is a fun and easy-to-use iOS app that can be used to tell a story by creating a customized digital comic.  

Elementari

On Elementari users can read, write, code, share, and remix interactive digital stories, portfolios, choose own adventures, and more using professional illustrations and sounds.  

HeadUP

HeadUP is go-to-app that allows students to create beautiful-looking stories in various subject areas in a fraction of seconds.  

Imagine Forest

This app offers a variety of short writing activities and a story creator that comes with built-in story starters, artwork, and more to inspire students.  

ChatterPix Kids

ChatterPix Kids is a free app that elementary school students can use to create talking pictures.  

Adobe Spark Video

Using Adobe Spark Video anyone can create their videos by creating slides that include an image, some text and record a voiceover for each slide – perfect for story-telling. 

Flipgrid

Flipgrid’s create a whiteboard-style instructional video option allows students to easily create a video that includes instruction drawn on whiteboard background, stickers, and your face and voice.  

iMovie or WeVideo

iMovie is a free app for Macbook or iPad. While, WeVideo is browser-based, this makes it a good choice for Chromebook users and Windows users. Both services provide all of the tools that students need to create short documentary videos.  

Google’s VR Tour Creator

It offers a good way for students to create virtual reality tours by organizing a series of related locations that have Street View imagery. Users can add their own images and their own narration to tours they develop in Tour Creator.  

Metaverse Studio

Metaverse Studio is a tool for creating your own augmented reality experiences that work as “breakout games,” as digital scavenger hunts, and as guided tours. 

Storyboard That 

One of the leaders in digital storytelling with over hundreds of thousands of storyboards created and tens of thousands of teachers incorporating it into their curriculum.

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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