Monday, 7 September 2015

#ueef15 - "Conta’m un conte... digital, per favor"/ "Tell Me a Story - make it digital!"

On Wednesday 9th September I am going to present at the Summer School of the Unversity of the Balearic Isands (UIB) Ibiza - sadly, by Skype and not in person.

The theme is "trending topics in ITC" and my session is about the digital storytelling project I have been working on with Gemmar Tur and Victoria Marin from UIB over the past year.

Here is the Prezi in Spanish:

and the English version:

So what is a digital story? For me, this means a mixed media presentation, living on the web, which probably incorporates music, images, written words and – possibly – the author’s voice.

When I Googled "cuentos digitales" on, in preparation for this event, I mainly found stories for children, but in the collaborative study, our use of digital storytelling focused on reflection on learning by students in HE who are engaged in professional education (teaching and health and social care professions).

Storytelling is a very ancient human activity and one that has been used for millennia in the realm of education. Stories contact deeper emotions and call for greater creativity than the usual essay, report or portfolio and they are almost innately reflective – indeed, reflection in a professional setting often starts with the recounting of a story. The story form allows us to make sense of events and our own thoughts, but also allows us to see things from a different perspective.

Why a DIGITAL story? 
Firstly, the platforms available to us on which to create digital stories lend themselves to a multimedia creation which engages the audience on many different levels: music and imagery combine to affect us emotionally and aesthetically. Also, for students preparing for employment these days, the development of 21st century skills – including digital competence – is essential. Creating a digital story therefore provides an authentic task (reflection on learning/reflection for professional development) which at the same time develops digital skills. Furthermore, the use of OER (as embedded resources and as a finished artefact) teaches important lessons about collaboration, digital identity and copyright whilst providing a platform on which to share our ideas, our stories, with the wider world.

What are the benefits of digital storytelling?
Obviously – increasing digital confidence and competence. But also - allowing creative expression, giving a voice to those with little confidence in academic writing, giving students the opportunity to practise speaking in public. And most students (over 80% in my end of year survey) find it a fun assignment to do.

Are there any disadvantages?
It can be a real challenge for anyone not used to working on the web or using digital tools – students AND teachers.

For the teacher - it can take longer to plan classes, putting appropriate scaffolding in place to guide the less confident students. If you are going to grade the finished story, you need to think about marking schemes or rubrics – for both the digital and the reflective elements.

For the student – some guidance is needed on keeping safe on a public platform and thinking about the crafting of your digital identity

So – HOW do you make a digital story?
Fortunately there are lots of step by step guides available. My favourite website is:  (which also gives guidance on platforms and tools you can use)  and this is the original digital storytelling site

What did the students think?

It was:
Fun 82%
Technically challenging 62%
Improved my digital skills 90%
Helped me to become more reflective 83%
Relevant to my studies 85%
Relevant to my future career 44%

As a result I am more likely to:
reflect on my learning 90%
reflect on my professional practice 86%
use the same tool again 75%
try other online tools 75%
stick to PowerPoint 28%
be cautious about sharing personal information on line 75%
mention this as a skill on my CV 46%

Interestingly, the students I surveyed (in their first year) generally didn't see this as an "employability skill",  although this was an aspect mentioned by the final year students. (For more detail about themes explored in the stories -  and more student feedback -  see previous blog posts)

This is not really so surprising given the stage the students are at, but it does perhaps point to the fact that more work needs to be done to set the professional context for this activity in future.

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