12 Ideas for Amplified Forms of Digital Storytelling

Storytelling fascinates me… Digital storytelling even more. Over the years, I shared my thinking and experiments around digital storytelling here on Langwitches, to one post in particular, I keep coming back to: Digital Storytelling- What it is and What is isn’t.

Storytelling is also directly related to Documenting Learning, a way to tell our own learning story.

It is NOT about the tools… it is about the skills
Digital storytelling is not about how to use VoiceThread or iMovie. It is not about the ability to create an MP3 recording and adding it to an XML file, so people can subscribe to a podcast channel. Digital storytelling is about different types of skills we are developing in the process, such as:

* writing, speaking, communication skills
* oral fluency
* information literacy
* visual literacy
* media literacy
* language skills
* auditory skills
* drama skills
* presentation skills
* listening skills
* publishing skills

Since I published the post in 2015, I have continued to be alert to new forms of storytelling tools and their potential to amplify new skills, new audiences, and new forms of stories.

In order to create a post with a list (which so many blog readers seem to like the best), I came up with the following 12 Ideas for amplified forms of Digital Storytelling for you to consider trying out. Remember, simply using a tech tool to tell a story, does not necessarily amplify possibilities. Amplified digital storytelling is a strategic choice to tap into previously unknown possibilities.

  1. Curation as Storytelling– Curation goes beyond collecting and disseminating information and resources. Curation involves finding, evaluating and selecting relevant information and resources to then connect and present them to an audience. The curator tells a story with his/her chosen and shared artifacts and adds value by letting their audience know why they are relevant to an overarching story A story that the audience might never have heard of. Take a look at Wakelet or blogs as tools/platforms to support social media curation and storytelling.
  2. Storytelling across Space and Time– If we are looking to amplify storytelling, let’s keep the possibilities of amplifying space and time in mind. Storytelling across time by adding evidence of growth and change over a specific or open ended time frame. Imagine creating a story of learning with your students across several school years. Each new class building upon the story of previous years. Storytelling across space, by globally crowdsourcing story components, perspectives, resources, etc. Take a look at apps like 365 Photo or 1 Second Everyday to select one image or 1 second of a video to tell a story over time (one year, the length of a vacation, etc.) or platforms and tools like Flipgrid, blogs, or Google Slides to collaborate with others across the world.
  3. Explanation Videos– Aristotle said, that the highest form of understanding is teaching. Learning by teaching others requieres metacognition, empathy, and an ability to break down specific learning steps to make them visible for others. Since the beginning of time, humans use stories to explain the world around them. Through stories, we make sense of the complex, intangible, and express ourselves. Explanation videos are created FOR OTHERS, using stories that become part of a learning community (classroom community, YouTube community, professional learning network, etc.) Take a look at apps, such as iMovie, Explain Everything, or you native tablet/smartphone video recording app.
  4. Snapchat StoriesSnapchat is currently (at the time of writing) one of the happening social media apps. What started out as a way to create short video clips, that disappeared after a few seconds has turned into a way to create stories for your friends, family and followers at large. These stories are used to build a brand, market products and to keep your followers in the loop about what is going on in your life. As you add new clips to your story, they become available for others to view in order of their uploads. What might look for some as a narcissistic activity of “look at me”, has quickly become a way for users to document their lives in times of exponential change, express themselves, become digital leaders to affect change for causes they deeply care about. How do you tell new forms of stories with filters, lenses and bitmojis? Ever heard of booknaps? Use Snapchat to capture specific passages of a book you are reading, adding annotations, bitmojis and share them out on your favorite social networking site…telling your reading story.
  5. Instagram Stories and Polls – Instagram, known for it’s photo posts, followed Snapchat’s lead and added stories to it’s repertoire. While a story disappears after 24hs, one can add it as a highlight to be able to continue adding to the story at a later time. This opens up opportunities to tell a story over time, as you curate individual stories by highlighting them. A highlighted story is made up of individual stories in the order they were uploaded. There is also a possibility of adding polls to your Instagram stories, providing the opportunity for interactivity for your stories’ viewers. Think “create” your own adventure type stories (Thank you Marianita for the idea)
  6. Instagram Hashtags- “Writing” a story on Instagram consists of images (or videos) and a description of text that can also include #hashtags. Writing, reading, listening and developing a story on new platforms opens up new opportunities for new forms of storytelling. Storytelling is no longer linear, no longer a solitary endeavor, but allows for connections to other posts (that will become part of your own non-linear story), crowdsourcing (contributions and perspectives from others), and telling a story over time by the storytellers who choose to include a specific hashtag.
  7. Learning StoriesDocumenting by capturing evidence of learning and sharing it in a strategic way allows for the development of a learning story. Take digital portfolios to the next level and go beyond the accumulation of disconnected artifacts to curate strategic evidence of learning. Create connections (chronological or non-linear) between them. Make reflections and metacognition (the thinking about your thinking) visible. Make your learning process and your growth visible. The learning story can become an inspiration for others, when you share and make your learning trials, obstacles and mistakes visible to others. The act of documenting and telling your learning story can become an integral part of the process of learning itelf. Take a look at SeeSaw or Day One as a platform to tell and organize your learning stories.
  8. Video Selfies– Once you get over the discomfort of seeing yourself on film, recording a short video clip to share your story becomes an easy and fast way to capture and make your story shareable. Take a look at Flipgrid to crowdsource video selfies responding to specific themes and topics. Each one of these individual crowdsourced videos is a story on its own and becomes part of larger story told. You can also use your tablet’s or smartphone’s build in video recording app to record stand-alone video clips, that you can upload to a YouTube Channel or social networking site, such as Twitter or Instagram. Check out hashtags such as #runandrant or #eduin30 or the 7 Billion Others project to see the power of crowdsourced storytelling.
  9. Digital Books – It is getting easier and easier to create your own books and then to self-publish for others to read your work and stories. If we are looking to amplify and not merely substitute analog books though, keep in mind the opportunities to collaborative write books with other storytellers from different regions, countries, cultures or speakers of other languages. Keep in mind to explore non-linear, multimedia, transmedia, multilayered storytelling to amplify the possibilities of what a digital book can become. Think of Alan November’s concept of Leaving a Legacy to allow books created by your students to be a living and breathing book, not meant to be a finished product, but meant to be build upon, remixed and taken to the next level by following year students’ as they add value to the original content and meaning. Take a look at apps, such as BookCreator or iBooks Author (mac)
  10. Sketchnotes– a form of visual notetaking, representing concepts, thinking, ideas and stories by sketching visuals, text, shapes, connectors to tell a story visually. When we process information and transform them into visual representations, we seem to approach our thinking in different forms, the brain seems to go different ways, we seem to be able to make different connections, remember the content in different forms and ways. Sketchnotes can be in analog and digital form, but the digital form allows us to curate, disseminate and add our visual representation
  11. Podcasts– Our grandparents were used to sitting around the family radio and listen to the news or radio shows (prequels to soap operas) that told weekly stories. Podcasts are similar to radio shows. The podcast host, records audio usually around a topic (ex. education, running, parenting, etc.) and uploads them to their podcast channel, which you can subscribe to via apps, like iTunes, Storify, etc. It is relatively simple to create your own podcast channel around an area of interest, passion, news, stories (pretty much anything you can think of/want to talk about). Your students can collaboratively create a classroom/subject area podcast episode or build an entire channel to share their learning, teach others, document their learning process, tell their learning story. To amplify storytelling through podcasting, think soundsightseeing tours, storytelling with sound effects, inviting guest speakers, stimulate your or your students’ make believe storytelling skills, sharpen your listening and speaking skills. Think presentation of specific content for others to listen to and learn from, collaborate as a class or virtual global class to produce podcast episodes together. Gain marketing and social media skills in building awareness as well as a loyal audience/community through podcast subscriptions. Take a look at your tablet’s or smartphone’s native audio recording apps or tools, such as Garageband or Audacity. [If you want a flashback, you can listen in on a few podcast episodes of Langwitches from 2006-2009)
  12. Google Maps/Google Earth – I have always have had a fascination with maps. As a child, I often envisioned my father, who traveled a lot, as a stick figure flying in an airplane around a map. Imagine stories that can be envisioned and told via maps… How would your students re-tell a story they are reading via a map? Take a look at Google LitTrips to see examples. “Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, placemarks with pop-up windows contain “just in time” resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references in that portion of the story. Our focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.” You can also check out Google- My Maps and create a map with placemarkers and text. Check out José, the Travel Bears story: In Search of Pachamama.

Further readings about digital storytelling: