Reimagined Learning through Digital Storytelling

After watching Richard Culatta’s TEDx titled “Reimagining Learning” I felt invigorated, enthralled, and encouraged. His ideas really spoke to my heart. At the center of the talk is the idea of using technology in education as a way to innovate learning instead of simply digitizing traditional teaching methods. Specifically, there is a difference between putting slides in a video with voiceover for digital delivery and introducing individualized content through interactive learning modules based on the learners’ quiz scores, program use, and knowledge weaknesses.

This idea is at the center of my understanding of eLearning.  Yes, eLearning can be the digitizing of traditional learning methods, but is this really what I am passionate about? Am I enthralled by simply making a video of a training presentation? The answer is no.

In other words, learning processes, rather than technology, should be at the center of eLearning design. As an instructional specialist and student in this area, I can focus on this central question: How can we make eLearning experiences the best they can be?

One way to have the learners at the center is through storytelling. Learners absorb information well through narration and storytelling and some of the best outcomes are when they tell the stories themselves, as with digital storytelling.

So, what is  Digital Storytelling?

There are a few definitions, all of which include “media” and “narrative.”

  • Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling Website
    • “Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. There are a wealth 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, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.”
  • StoryCenter 
    • “…Participatory media methods to support people in sharing personal narratives rooted in their own life experiences.”
  • Bernard R. Robin in Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom
    • “Digital storytelling allows computer users to become creative storytellers through the traditional processes of selecting a topic, conducting some research, writing a script, and developing an interesting story.”
  • My Definition
    • “Digital storytelling is a teaching tool used to direct learner understanding of themselves, others, and the story topic by using the storytelling process and creating a narrative through multimedia.”

Digital Storytelling in Adult Education

Storytelling for adults is not a new idea. It is general practice to provide stories or narratives to groups of adult learners to assist in grasping concepts. Storytelling is also a great way to reflect on understanding and synthesize complex concepts.

As an eLearning professional I can use Digital Storytelling to introduce concepts and set a hook in the topic. On the other hand, by requiring learners to create their own short stories I can facilitate learning through guided reflection and the storytelling process. Really, it seems like there are endless possibilities of where digital storytelling could play a part in learning.

Emily Bailin provides a wonderful example of digital storytelling and expands upon the process and experience of engaging with herself. I cannot do it much justice, you have to watch the entire thing.

2 thoughts on “Reimagined Learning through Digital Storytelling

  1. I love the use of storytelling to help students learn. I have found that my favorite teachers and the classes and subjects I remember the best, are those in which the teacher was a great storyteller. It provides “hooks” on which to hang information and it is easier to recall the information. I think it is a great idea to also have your learners create the stories as well.


    1. Amy, you hit it straight on the money for me. I too remember lessons from teachers that were great storytellers. Even a math teacher can tap into this great learning strategy. The truth is that storytelling is a skill that has to be fostered. I am not that great at storytelling. I could use some practice.


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