The Weekly Teaching Note

From the Cal Poly Pomona Faculty Center for Professional Development

Digital Storytelling

Posted by weeklyteachingnote on February 10, 2009

Looking for an alternative to the 8-10 page research paper? In digital storytelling, students interact with course material through the media of narrative, still pictures, and music.  There’s no shortage of writing in this assignment, but added to that is group collaboration, creativity, practice with fairly common software (iMovie or Moviemaker), and—thanks to YouTube—a great opportunity to “publish” student work.  The Center for Digital Storytelling ( can provide more information and some examples, but they have broken down the process into 10 steps for students to follow.  Add Step 11, a written reflection, to increase the amount of writing in the project.

  1. Write a script
    • 1 ½ double-spaced typewritten pages = ~3 minutes
    • Establish a point of view with the narrator
    • Make it emotional
  2. Record the script
    • Desktop microphones will do, but have students check campus resources
  3. Storyboard the script
    • Decide what should be showing for each part of the narration
  4. Gather images (about 20 should do, but good to have plenty to draw on)
    • Scan if necessary (at least 200 dpi, saved as JPG)
    • Digital images from Web (be sure not to violate copyrighted material)
  5. Edit images: Keep a folder with all the unedited, full size images as a backup—duplicate these when editing. Use Photoshop or other image editing software to crop as needed and perform image correction (contrast, brightness, color, etc). Save as JPGs
  6. Import images and sound file into iMovie or MovieMaker
  7. Place images (clips) onto timeline at appropriate spots
  8. Make transitions (fade in and out, dissolve, etc—easy to do in these programs)
  9. Add music if desired (avoid vocal music—it will distract from narrator)
  10. Upload to YouTube or another website and/or make DVD
  11. Write at least a three-page critical reflection paper that explains your project and its connection to content in the class.

This is a time-consuming project but one that students often find very rewarding.  Many of them share the YouTube link with friends and family – and how often does the typical term paper get viewed by an audience larger than one?

Contributed by:

Paul Quick and David Noah

The Center for Teaching and Learning

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia


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