Yesterday, I gave a presentation about Digital Storytelling to attendees of the Seminar for Excellence in Teaching, hosted by Academy for Teaching and Learning. We watched some digital stories and had some good conversation about digital storytelling. Many thanks to those who participated.

One participant raised the idea that digital stories can be dangerous. It’s an intriguing idea and I think I agree, digital stories can be dangerous in a double-edged-sword kind of way.

The emphasis on point-of-view, and the work done during the process of digital storytelling to refine and focus the storyteller’s perspective, often results in a story that carries the weight of truth. One person’s truth can sometimes be no more than that (and often that is enough in the work of digital storytelling), and other times one person’s voice/story points to larger truths. When confronted with new stories, in order to make sense of them, we classify those stories within larger narratives. It is in these classification decisions, which are made mostly unconsciously, that we find elements of danger.

What do we do with the other’s story? With the other’s truth? Do we dismiss it? Add it as another plank in a platform? Use it to promote agendas? Do we honor it? Learn from it? Deepen our empathy?

Paraphrasing another participant: stories are the oldest and most enduring form of knowledge creation and transmission.

They are powerful tools. Handle with care.

 


 

Resources (note: the digital story “Elevator C” is not online)
“They Sold Their Own” Digital story and blog post about an instructor’s in-class experience.

“Pete” Digital story by a scientist.

“Grand Canyon” Digital story about divorce.

“Breathless” Digital story about emergency transport.

University of Houston Digital Storytelling Site

Seven Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling (an info-sheet from Educause Learning Initiative)

Bibliography
Hartley, John, and Kelly McWilliam, eds. Story Circle: Digital Storytelling around the World. Chichester, U.K. ; Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Ohler, Jason. Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, Californa: Corwin, a SAGE Company, 2013.