Weaving Digital Storytelling
Into the Liberal Arts Curriculum
Digital Stories from Swarthmore College
Learning from Swarthmore
"Founded in 1864, Swarthmore College celebrates the life of the mind by giving its students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. In 2008, we were invited by Swarthmore’s Information Technology Services (ITS) Academic Technology and Media Services Department to help the college begin building and sustaining a community of practice in digital storytelling. Since then, we have led one to two digital storytelling workshops per year on the campus, including one customized Facilitator Intensive Training. A session in January 2012 marked our tenth workshop with the college. Faculty and staff are as a result now implementing digital storytelling across numerous disciplinary areas, with the support of skilled ITS instructors. One faculty member designed an English course around the format, Writing Nature: Digital Storytelling. Students in the Writing Nature course created digital stories inspired by their experiences with the college's Crum Woods. The Dean’s Office used digital storytelling as a tool for staff reflection and development (view story). Faculty members in the Off-Campus Study Office who have participated in the Center's workshops now help students process their study abroad experiences through digital stories (view story). Digital Storytelling has been integrated into the curriculum of Modern Language courses, and it is used to facilitate reflection on the relationship between literacies and identity in Educational Studies (view story). Digital storytelling has provided a means for faculty and staff at the college to reflect on sustainability efforts (view story); the award-winning, student-run War News Radio program (view story); the impact of donor contributions; and a wide range of other efforts and experiences at Swarthmore. Read more about digital storytelling at Swarthmore. "
--- from the website of the Center for Digital Storytelling
Why Digital Stories?
1. They integrate different forms of knowing: verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, musical-rhythmic, analytic, and empathetic.
2. They hone capacities for communication.
3. They provide an opportunity to share with others.
4. They can help students reflect upon modes of learning that outside the classroom: volunteer work, study abroad, internships.
5. They provide marketable skills relevant to a digital age.
6. They are vivid examples of engaged education -- engaging a student's creativity and intellect simultaneously.
How can Digital Stories be combined with writing?
One way is to combine them with essay assignments. Students can write essays on digital stories, just as they now write them on texts, film, and other forms of art. And they can create digital stories at outcomes of writing projects. What follows are excerpts from an assignment given by Dr. Amanda Hagood, who taught a course at Hendrix College combining writing and digital storytelling.
"1. Early in the semester, students will select a text from the syllabus and write a 5 page essay that 1) analyzes a small portion of the text, while 2) commenting upon how the text portrays the relationship between human beings (or human culture) and the natural environment.
2. Essays will be returned with comments, and students will then be asked to reconceptualize their essays as a narrative: these “stories” could concern how that text provided you some insight into environmental issues; or how that text speaks to your larger experience as a reader, a hunter, a hiker, a researcher, etc.
3. Students then will craft a storyboard that integrates a script, visual elements (such as photographs, word art, video, etc), and a soundtrack into a 1-2 minute digital presentation. Storyboards will provide the template for digital media presentations, which will be created and presented to the class at the close of
If you are curious about the course as a whole, a good article can be found on the Hendrix College website: http://www.hendrix.edu/news/news.aspx?id=63283.
Of course many of us who are teachers ask: But how can we learn?
Increasingly colleges and universities have instructional technology offices where one or another person helps train people. Sometimes they visit the classrooms and sometimes faculty and students go to a location - the IT office -- for training sessions.
There are also many resources online concerning the design and implementation of digital stories. An excellent book, produced by the Center for Digital Storytelling, is The Digital Storytelling Cookbook. A PDF can be found here.
The ideal -- of which Swarthmore has been taking full advantage -- is to have workshops offered by the Center for Digital Storytelling. In the absence of site visits, CDS offers workshops in a variety of locations throughout the year.
A philosophy of education