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Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time—it’s been present in every culture and civilization, and has been used as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and more. It predates writing and has taken many forms, from cave wall paintings, carvings and tattoos to oral narratives, music and dance.

Storytelling of today exists much in the same way, only now it takes on new forms and mediums, including video, audio, social media and blogging. Digital storytelling in the classroom can empower students to share their ideas in fun and engaging ways that go beyond the walls of school, increasing reach, impact and learning.

Benefits of digital storytelling

Digital storytelling is simply using digital tools to present a story or idea, but its impact spreads far and wide. Digital elements can inspire, engage and compel, spicing up the dullest of topics. Other key reasons to encourage digital storytelling in your classroom include:

  1. Increase impact: We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In fact, social media posts accompanied by an image receive ten times the engagement than those without. Imagine the impact an image, complemented by an additional digital element, such as video or audio, could make! Think virtual tours of a historical landmark in lieu of a report. Or skipping the biography and opting instead for a simulated interview or debate with a public figure. The possibilities are endless! Stoke your students’ fire with a little competition for best presentation—school logo’d hoodies, tablet sleeves or tumblers make great prizes.
  2. Teach digital citizenship: You’ll be hard pressed to find a student unfamiliar with digital. But some have a thing or two to learn about being good digital citizens. Digital storytelling presents the opportunity to teach students about what types of content to post online during what time of the day or week and more. Online etiquette for posting, liking and commenting makes a great lesson, too. You may even compel students to engage with digital content through thoughtful comments or constructive feedback as a class requirement. Discussion on the topic can be encouraged and rewarded with thumbs up pens and sticky books for participation.
  3. Go beyond sharing: Encouraging students to transform a paper into a blog post or to share their work on social media can help them spread their story far beyond the confines of the classroom. Plus, doing so encourages critical thinking, the use of multiple skills, interactivity and collaboration. It also provides the basis for a digital portfolio—something students, parents or future employers may appreciate. Providing USB drives can encourage students to start and/or contribute to their digital portfolio.

Digital storytelling can be a great means for students to explore and better understand ideas and concepts. Promote it for your classes’ next presentation and watch the learning unfold.

“Storytelling.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2015.

Hernandez, Michael. “A Guide to Producing Student Digital Storytellers.” EdSurge News. N.p., 26 Aug. 2015. Web. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2015.

“Digital Storytelling.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2015.

Balm, James. “The power of pictures. How we can use images to promote and communicate science.” BioMed Central Blog. N.p., 11 Aug. 2014. Web. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2015.

“Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.” EdTechTeacher. N.p., Web. Retrieved 15 Sept. 2015.

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