DS4 Digital Storytelling Festival

Last modified by Mary Jacob on 20/07/2010

DS4 Digital Storytelling Festival

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 Conference titleDS4 – Digital Storytelling Festival, Aberystwyth University
 Conference date17 June 2009
 Staff member Mary Jacob, E-learning Advisor
 Department Information Services

I attended the 4th Annual Digital storytelling festival at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 17 June 2009. In addition to the festival, I’ve attended a Best Practices in E-learning webinar on digital storytelling in teaching, have made my own digital story through the Arts Centre workshop (based on the BBC model), and bookmarked some useful resources and case studies on educational digital storytelling on our IS-ALTO Delicious bookmarks (http://delicious.com/is_alto/storytelling).

While the primary use of digital storytelling is for community-building (addressing themes such as outreach, social inclusion, accessibility etc), there is great potential for the use of digital storytelling in teaching.

A wide range of approaches and tools was presentated at the festival. I've collected some of the main ideas below, grouped as follows:

  • Technical approaches for how to do a digital story
  • Possible uses in teaching
  • Technologies used
  • Links to the festival and presenters' websites, as well as other resources


  • Scanner – put objects on a scanner, scan an image, upload to Flickr. Use a plastic sheet under the objects and a plain white sheet of paper over the objects to get a good image and protect the glass.  Participants can write directly on an object (such as a leaf) if desired. Good for people with physical disabilities or who are not comfortable with a computer, keyboard, etc.
  • Global treasure hunt – For example, snap-shot-city.com (submit a photograph on a pre-set theme) or ask fifty people one question (submit a video asking the same question of various people).
  • BBC Wales format – write a script of no more than two minutes, make an audio recording, and add images. Technology used is Audacity and Adobe Premiere Elements, possibly Adobe Photoshop Elements for image editing. Images can be scanned from old photographs or captured with digital camera. Music may be added. This is what the Arts Centre does in their weekend digital storytelling workshop, with the assistance of a technician who worked with the BBC Wales project over its lifespan.
  • Stories relating to places – record informal brief interviews relating to specific locations and make the audio files available for listening online, possibly linked to a map of the locations. Photos can also be linked to the maps. In some projects, there is an installation at the locations telling people how to access the audio files via the web or their mobile phones.
  • Group projects – various ways of having a group create a digital story, especially useful for outreach projects targeting people such as youth offenders, etc.   For example, while working with a group of teenage boys, the facilitator noticed that they were easily distracted by drawing graffiti-like pictures, so he had them each draw a picture based on their school experience, after which each boy recorded a voiceover narration. In some cases, the drawings were scanned several times at different stages of development, so as to capture the evolution of the story. Mark Giddens pointed out that the image is only the ‘relish’ and gives contents while the narrative is the ‘meat’ of the story providing the meaning, so focus on the narrative. Some tips:
    • Use free software so that participants can continue making digistories after the project/workshop - See EduApps from TechDIS for portable applications that can be used for this purpose http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps/download.php
    • Recorded audio can be transferred into ringtones, can give added motivation
    • Use Learning Event Generator to give students a prompt for their stories – contact Chris Morgan mogan@canllaw-online.com to get the free software
  • Use of objects – photograph puppets instead of people when making a dramatized story in order for participants to feel more comfortable, bring an object and tell the story it triggers in an unscripted way.
  • Interview – do an unscripted interview in which the facilitator asks the participant questions, and then edit out the facilitator’s voice.


  • Reflective journal – record the process of a learning experience
  • Study abroad – students tell the story of an experience abroad, using the target language
  • Work placement – students document a learning experience that took place during the work placement
  • Sociological fieldwork – this technology can be used to capture stories from people in the field for any kind of social sciences study 
  • Foreign language teaching – create a digital story in the target language on any topic
  • Art / digital art – use the digital story as an art form in itself 
  • Recruitment and student support – experienced students make digital stories for incoming students, talking about a turning point in their study, or how the degree helped them get a job, etc.
  • Record a day via Twitter – students tweet using a pre-set hash tag at set times throughout the day about what they are experiencing. The tweets are later assembled into a story. Good for fieldwork, study abroad, work placement.


  • Audio capture – mp3 player/recorder, computer with microphone (record directly into Audacity)
  • Audio editing – Audacity (free download)
  • Image capture – mobile phone, digital camera, scanner
  • Image editing – Photoshop Elements (commercial software)
  • Image sharing – Flickr, dedicated project sites (e.g. snap-shot-city), Twitpic (upload photos to Twitter)
  • Video capture – mobile phone, Flip camera, camcorder
  • Video editing – Premiere Elements (commercial software), Windows Movie Maker (free with Windows), iMovie (free with Mac), Flash
  • Video sharing – YouTube, Vimeo
Created by Mary Jacob on 23/09/2009
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