Digital Storytelling


As an educator in the fields of social studies and language arts, I’ve always been very interested in stories and story telling. People have told stories as long as they’ve been around and for a long time it was the only way that information was passed down from generation to generation. With the advent of writing systems, stories were recorded for posterity on clay, paper, murals, etc. Note that these writing systems did not always just contain text. In fact, most early writing systems were more pictographic, and could be considered an early form of multimedia.

Jumping ahead to more current times, digital tools have enabled us to create some extremely powerful narrations in text, image, video, and sound. One of the earliest examples of digital stories about education that I was exposed to is this teacher story, called A Story of Hands, created as part of a digital storytelling program at Western Michigan.  A more recent one that is very good as well is the story of Digital Kids @ Analog Schools., created by Consuelo Molina, which I blogged about here. These are just two examples of many more stories that have got to be out there.

What I like about digital storytelling is that it provides students with an outlet for their stories, using media that they understand and are comfortable with using as a part of their daily lives. It also provides them with choices in a world that is mostly dictated by adults. Finally, it gives them a voice, because it is easier than ever today to shoot video and post it online for a potential audience of millions. Obviously, sites like YouTube come to mind here, but also others like Command Post or Current Studio. And of course, many entities have their own websites on which they share their own digital stories.

Finally, what actually got me to write this post was a very different type of digital story that I ran across the other day. It’s a story that is going to be created by many people across the world. Chances are they don’t know each other, but they are all going to contribute a small piece to a much larger story that is called the Yahoo Time Capsule. According to the website:

the Yahoo! Time Capsule sets out to collect a portrait of the world – a single global image composed of millions of individual contributions. This time capsule is defined not by the few items a curator decides to include, but by the items submitted by every human on earth who wishes to participate. We hope to reach a truly global expression of life on earth – nuanced, diverse, beautiful and ugly, thrilling and terrifying, touching and rude, serious and absurd, frank, honest, human.The Time Capsule itself is realized digitally so that the maximum number of people can have access. It is organized around ten themes, chosen to illuminate different corners of the human experience. The ten themes are: Love, Sorrow, Anger, Faith, Beauty, Fun, Past, Hope, Now, and You. Each theme harbors an open-ended question: What do you love? What makes you sad? What makes you angry? What do you believe in? What’s beautiful? What’s fun? What do you remember? What is your wish? Describe your world. Who are you? People respond to these questions in five simple ways – with words, pictures, videos, sounds, and drawings.

The interface itself is very cool, and,

In addition to submitting your own content, you can view, read, or hear the images, words, and sounds contributed by users from around the world.

You can also comment on the content you and others have submitted – and engage in a digital conversation that is just as revealing and important as any of the content you’ll witness.

Very cool! I may actually contribute something myself. As of this posting, there were 12790 contributions from all over the world. If you’d like to contribute something:

For 30 days, from October 10 until November 8, Yahoo! users worldwide can contribute photos, writings, videos, audio – even drawings – to this electronic anthropology project. This is the first time that digital data will be gathered and preserved for historical purposes.

Imagine the possibilities of something like this for education ….


Image Credit: Yahoo Time Capsule:


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s