Examining the What, the Why and the How of Digital
Storytelling in EFL Teaching.
IN 10 EASY STEPS
George Drivas - Chryssanthe Sotiriou
Digital Storytelling is the modern
version of the age-old art of
From oral storytelling to
CNN and the Internet…
Storytelling is also an ancient form
Storytelling, no matter in what form or media, is a powerful method to communicate knowledge,
culture, perspectives and points of view. Before reading and writing, oral storytelling was the only
means wisdom and knowledge were communicated.
Nowadays, technology provides us
with new possibilities to exploit
this ancient teaching method
We use storytelling in order to teach others about our knowledge, culture and beliefs.
Digital storytelling gives us the ability to reach and disseminate our stories further than ever before.
We tell stories to organize experience into a meaningful whole that can be shared with others.
Digital Storytelling gives students confidence while it develops fundamental intellectual skills.
What Is Digital Storytelling?
Telling a story by bringing together some
mixture of digitalgraphics, text, recorded
audio narration, video and music to present
information on a specific topic
Many different definitions of
Digital Storytelling exist
Common core: the art of telling stories with a variety of digital media, such as audio, and video.
Similarities with traditional storytelling: a chosen theme and a particular viewpoint.
Differences from traditional storytelling: just a few minutes long and have a variety of uses and
methods of broadcast.
Stories that have been passed
down through generations, allow
voices from the past to interact
with voices from the present.
Rehashing and remaking old
stories by adding new twists and
perspectives allow for multiple
interpretations of storylines.
Digital Storytelling is a tool that
can support teaching and learning
in any subject area.
Artifacts #1: Knowledge
Our experiences, our knowledge
and our thinking are quite often
organized in story form.
Knowledge: Write, Revise,
Visualize, Create, Locate,
Artifacts #2: Competences
A competency is a set of defined
behaviors when tackling a
Artifacts #3: Skills
Communicate in new ways
Use real world tools
Create personal meaning
Digital Stories create a conduit
between teaching and integrating
ICT tools allow us to connect, communicate and collaborate easily with others around the world.
1. We connect emotionally with people and events in stories and we relate them to experiences in
our own lives.
2. Stories let us communicate our perspective and perception as well as our understanding of the
world around us.
3. Stories are usually a collaborative effort tales, characters, their actions and points of view
The Seven Elements of Digital
Storytelling (adapted from
Center for Digital Storytelling’s Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling
1. Point of view What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?
2. A dramatic question A key question that keeps the viewer’s attention and will be answered by the
end of the story.
3. Emotional content Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the
story to the audience.
4. The gift of your voice A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
5. The power of the soundtrack Music or other sounds that support and embellish the storyline.
6. Economy Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
7. Pacing The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.
Inside Your Story
The perspective: Identity, Culture,
Emotions, Opinions, Facts, Experiences,
Told in first person
Using own voice to narrate the tale
You share who you are, what you
felt, and what the event or situation
means to you
The story is shared through the
heart NOT the head.
Key words: Expectations, Meaning,
Impact, Understanding, Connection
Each story expresses a personal
meaning or insight.
Each story has a point to make.
Each story engages and involves the
A good Digital Story incorporates
technology in meaningful ways, not for
the sake of technology.
It demonstrates expertise in sharing and
creating meaning with images, sound,
voice, color, and special effects
All digital elements are selected to enhance the meaning of the tale rather than provide an interesting
package that distracts from what is being presented.
Good craftsmanship combines media elements creatively to convey significant meaning rather than
decoration of the story.
Whenever we are told a story we
enjoy a surprise turn-of-events as
long as the storyline is coherent.
The tension of an unresolved or curious situation engages and holds the viewer until the story reaches
a memorable ending.
Pacing is an invisible part of sustaining story tension. It uses starts, stops and pauses letting us wonder
what will happen next and how will it be resolved.
One point to make
Length: 3-5 minutes
Script: no more than one (1) page
No of Words: Maximum five
hundred (500) words.
Showing, Not Telling
Both images and sound, not just words, are used to provide vivid details, to reveal feelings, to offer
Both words and media are needed to reveal details rather than simply naming or stating what already
exists or the viewer knows about.
1: What do you want to share?
Tell a personal tale.
Reveal a small truth.
Character stories center on a person who's touched you in a deep way.
Memorial stories center o a person who left a lasting impression.
Travel stories — stories about a personal journey or passage
Accomplishment stories about achieving a goal,
The story about a place in your life.
The story about what I do. People find value in their work, hobbies, or social commitments
Recovery stories. Sharing the experience challenge, or personal obstacle
Discovery stories. Stories about how we uncovered a truth or learned how to do something.
2: What do I need?
Use what you have!
Start collecting memories.
The most powerful materials are
often discovered during a search
in forgotten files or boxes.
Start gathering anything that holds emotional value: photos, video, flyers, etc.
Don't think you have to create a story from scratch. You can always add to it if needed.
Older materials usually carry more of an emotional impact than new custom made materials.
3: What is your story?
Write your script
The story must be told from your
point of view.
• Get the main elements of your story down on paper.
• See how much you can convey with a few words and some key images.
• You need to reach an emotional depth.
• All stories have a structure: a beginning, middle and end.
• The rhythm and tempo of a story is what maintains the audience interest.
• All storytellers have their own characteristic style of storytelling. Find yours.
• Read your script to a friend and ask for comments, observe their reactions.
4: What hardware do I need?
A tablet or laptop.
You may need certain pieces of
equipment depending on your
A desktop computer or laptop. Video software. A scanner, if you want to include traditional photos in
your story. A recording device: for video, for audio, a portable digital recorder.
A handheld microphone for interviews. Headphones.
5: How do I plan my story
Use a storyboard.
Use index cards
15 images & 2’ of video.
6’’ on each image
Professional movie makers use
storyboards to plan out the
sequences of events that they
would like to tell.
This is where you'll place your
visual materials and your
Arrange your visuals in sequence.
Use an index card beneath each visual to write a comment about the picture.
You do not need to write the full narrative yet.
Make certain that the segments (image and narrative) are equally proportioned to each other.
Do not rush through segments. Give them time to make an impact.
You may want to look for examples of digital stories at video sharing sites. i.e., YouTube. Look for
different styles and approaches. Which one suits your style or your goal best?
6: How do I use images?
Scan in the same format
Save into a single folder
Use actual size
Use proper dimensions.
Prepare your material as best as
you can. Time spent now is time
Prepare your images in a format that is compatible with your software.
Pay attention to size and resolution.
Practice with cropping images for maximum effect.
Avoid distorting the pictures or video because they may look strange in the final product.
Save the original files separately to avoid any accidents.
7: How do I record the narration
Use a conversational voice
Practice before recording
Your laptop, tablet or phone is
probably good enough for
recording your narration.
Speak slowly and clearly in a
Don't read from a script.
8: What music do I use?
• instrumental pieces
• snippets of shows
Most of us have our favourite
music running in our heads.
Choose the one that reflects the
mood of the story you want to
Pay special attention to copyright, especially if you want to publish your work on the web. It makes no
difference that you are not making money out of your story. Consult your source for copyright
restrictions on a particular audio or video file.
9: When is my story ready?
Make sure you have all the
elements of your story in the right
place and the right format.
This means images, video, audio, and music file.
Check the format and check that they are copies: the originals are safely away.
Next, import all your material into your software.
This is your first draft. It gives you an overview of your project.
Next, add text (opening and closing titles, comments, descriptions) as planned.
Use a font that's easy to read in a colour that contrasts well with the background.
Add transitions the narrative and music making certain that they are synchronized.
10: How do I Share my Story?
• You Tube
There are a number of public sites
that you may want to use to share
10: What content?
Fosters critical thinking skills
Encourages students become
Gives students a voice.
Tells a personal narrative.
Helps students retain
Enhances learning by
“Below are brief definition excerpts from Chapter 4 — "Storying Around for 21st Century Skills" — of
DigiTales: the Art of Telling Digital Stories. The following skills have been identified and cross-
referenced with National Standards, NETS-S, and 21
1. Cognitive Apprenticeship —
practicing real-world work of
2. Creativity and Inventive
Thinking — creating multi-sensory
experiences for others
3. Higher Order Thinking Skills—
going beyond existing information
to add personal meaning and
tell a story to
4. Enduring Understanding — by
telling the story of what you know
and understand for others,
authors deepen their own self-
meaning of the topic
use images to show,
the narrative &
5. Visual Literacy — using images
to show, not tell, the narrative
master skill of applying
technology to create
6. Technical Literacy — mastering
the craftsmanship of applying the
technology to create powerful
think, read, write,
and design effective
7. Information Literacy —
thinking, reading, writing, and
designing effective media
read and write
8. Effective Communication —
reading and writing information
opportunity to use
the preferred mode
9. Multiple Intelligences and
Learning Styles — addressing not
only the opportunity for students
to use their preferred mode of
learning and thinking, but also
enabling them to practice the
effective use of all modalities
10. Teaming and Collaboration —
growing skills through practiced
opportunities to co-produce
complex tasks to
11. Project Management
Mentality —practice time
management of complex, involved
tasks to successfully meet
deadlines modeling real-world
12. Exploring Affinity —when
students create meaningful,
engaged work, they discover
themselves as successful learners.
When students participate in the
multiple steps of designing,
creating and presenting their own
digital stories, they increase a full
complement of literacy skills
• Research Skills: Documenting the story, finding and analyzing pertinent information;
• Writing Skills: Formulating a point of view and developing a script;
• Organization Skills: Managing the scope of the project, the materials used and the time it takes to
complete the task;
• Technology Skills: learning to use a variety of tools, such as digital cameras, scanners, microphones
and multimedia authoring software;
• Presentation Skills: Deciding how to best present the story to an audience;
• Interview Skills: Finding sources to interview and determining questions to ask;
• Interpersonal Skills: Working within a group and determining individual roles for group members;
• Problem-Solving Skills: Learning to make decisions and overcome obstacles at all stages of the
project, from inception to completion; and
• Assessment Skills: Gaining expertise critiquing their own and others’ work.
IN 10 EASY STEPS
George Drivas - Chryssanthe Sotiriou
For additional information:
• Robin, Bernard R., The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, Curriculum and Instruction,
University of Houston, USA, from http://digitalliteracyintheclassroom.pbworks.com/f/Educ-Uses-
• Robin, Bernard R., & McNeil, Sara G., What Educators Should Know about Teaching Digital
Storytelling, Digital Education Review - Number 22, December 2012- http://greav.ub.edu/der/
• Lasica, J.D., Digital Storytelling: A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps, October 2, 2006, from
• Gregori Signes, Carmen, PRACTICAL USES OF DIGITAL STORYTELLING, Universitat de València,
València, Spain, from
• Take Six: Elements of a Good Digital Story, Adapted from The Center for Digital Storytelling
Cookbook, from http://www.digitales.us/files/Take%20Six.pdf
• Lambert, Joe, DIGITAL STORYTELLING COOKBOOK , 2010, Joe Lambert, Digital Diner Press, ISBN: