Tell Me a (Digital) Story

DigstoryProcessAt yesterday’s Johnson Center luncheon we discussed digital storytelling and also took a look at Scalar, a “free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online.” More specifically, we thought about how digital stories could be further enriched by being situated in an interactive context such Scalar.

The most common form of digital storytelling produces a video of three to five minutes in length (or perhaps somewhat longer), consisting of a voice-over narration of a sequence of images or slides or short motion clips, with transitions, perhaps accompanied by a musical soundtrack. Most often these stories are produced with programs such as Windows MovieMaker and Apple’s iMovie. Effective stories require careful attention to narrative arc, voice, point of view, tempo, audience, storyboarding, and other elements of vocal, textual, and visual communication.

A culture and practice for digital storytelling has developed at Austin College, particular among students participating in travel abroad programs such as the Go Fellow and JanTerm study trips. A good number of the stories produced in the last several years can be found on the AC YouTube site; look under “Playlists,” for example, to see Go Fellows digital stories for 2014, 2013, 2012, and earlier.

An excellent resource for digital storytelling ideas is the website, Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling at the University of Houston. You might check out their “7 Elements of Digital Storytelling” as well as “8 Steps to Great Digital Storytelling,” for starters. There is a helpful section on tools and software, and a gallery of digital stories covering a wide range of topics. Another helpful site for resources is the Digital Storytelling Library Guide at Mercy College.

Specific tutorials guides that I would recommend include Making a Digital Story in iMovie ’11 and Digital Story Production Using Windows Movie Maker.

Several of our Mellon Digital Pedagogy projects, such as those of Elena Olive’, Julie Hempel and Terry Hoops, and Kirk Everist, involve aspects of digital storytelling. We look forward to learning more from them about the creative uses of digital storytelling and publishing in their classes. In the meantime, if you’d like help with a project of your own, just let us know, and we’ll be happy to help.

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