Someone once said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” This..
Everybody loves stories, no matter if we are hearing them or telling them. Exploring digital storytelling in your classroom connects students to an age-old practice in an entirely modern way.
Below are six different reasons digital storytelling is an activity worth pursuing in class. We've also suggested a few tools to accompany you and your students on those fulfilling journeys.
1. It lets students practice communicating with visuals.
Today, communication is largely done through visual media. The challenge for any designer or marketing professional is to find a way to say more with less text. It will probably continue to be this way for a very long time. In the end, the more you can say with less the better.
Words are precious, and being able to communicate in their absence is a unique and valuable skill in classrooms and workplaces. That's why exploring digital storytelling techniques using visual components is so powerful.
The tool to check out: Animatron
Animatron was created out of a need for a tool with more visual power and less clutter. It lets students animate right in a browser and collaborate in real time.
2. It teaches students the power of imagination.
Imagination is just as important as knowledge in learning. Learners can take risks in a safe environment when imagination is at play. Exploring digital storytelling means exploring possibilities and creative potential.
In many ways the products of our imaginations are the true representations of who we are. Learning was never meant to be a linear journey. If we are allowed to imagine, then borders disappear.
The tool to check out: Storybird
If you haven't checked out Storybird yet, don't wait any longer. This is a beautiful web app that's easy to use and which was built for imaginative classroom storytelling projects.
3. It makes learning about the writing process fun.
Writing has a basic process that we learn, and after that we develop our own style the more we write. Creating our own style mojo is the fun part—the basics can be a drag, though. Thankfully there are plenty of tools online today to make learning and practicing the process more engaging.
The tool to check out: Quill
Quill makes learning the writing process more effective and enjoyable for elementary and middle school students. It uses creative assignments and activities, diagnostic tools, and more.
4. It helps students develop confidence and leadership
In the 6D system of Solution Fluency, there is a phase called Delivery. This is all about presenting a project or proposed solution—it's about "delivering the goods." Doing this in front of peers and others naturally develops and enhances leadership and confidence skills. So it follows that any digital storytelling project can build the same skills when students deliver it through unique and noteworthy presentation formats.
The tool to check out: Canva
When it comes to top-notch design tools that pack a punch for free, all roads lead to Canva. You can create pretty much anything using Canva. It's loaded with versatile templates for any project, including digital storytelling. Get your students up in front of class with something created using Canva and they'll wow the crowd.
5. It teaches critical thinking skills.
Storytelling is one of the greatest tools humanity has ever had for teaching and entertaining. Both of these require a healthy dose of critical thinking and reasoning skills. When it comes to the art of exploring digital storytelling, these skills are also applied to creating a visual product.
The tool to check out: Animoto
Animoto is one of the more complex digital animation tools out there, but the results are worth the extra effort. Use it to create a video representing any story you can think of. Drop in the included media or upload your own photos or video, choose some music, and let Animoto do its thing.
6. It teaches students to take pride in intellectual property.
After a successful digital storytelling session, how likely are students to share their work on social media or their YouTube channel? It's probably very likely and rightly so.
After the work they've put in they deserve to be proud and to feel satisfied with what they've created and given to others. This is the essence of respecting not only one's own intellectual property, but that of others as well.
The tool to check out: Book Creator
Book Creator makes beautiful ebooks right on an iPad. Some of the possibilities for exploring digital storytelling include picture books, comic books, photo books, and journals.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Feb 4, 2019, updated Nov 19, 2021