CAEP Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling Rationale

Composition and literacy are changing as the Internet becomes a more ubiquitous and central part of our literate lives.  It is not enough to use digital media to teach print literacy.  Indeed, the significance of print literacy is not decreasing; it is ever more important as literacy expands and becomes multimodal. We are not witnessing a replacement of one mode of literacy for another but rather a multiplication of the media. To be literate in the 21st century is to engage in multimodal communications. 

Fiction or nonfiction, a digital story or, multimodal composition, is a narrative composition produced through the integration of digital modes of communication including audio, still images of all sorts, video and text. Unlike written composition which students frequently experience as a daunting process, students tend to find most, if not all, facets of digital storytelling very engaging, if not fun.

A partial rationale for this exploration is that I want you to have a meaningful experience as a participant in a digital storytelling workshop and producing a digital story so that you can thoughtfully consider integrating a digital storytelling workshop into the learning experiences of your future students.

We will explore assessment in the context of digital storytelling. Indeed, for this digital storytelling exploration, you are required to develop assessment criteria and a rubric for assessing the digital story that you produce. One of the main reasons why digital storytelling isn’t integrated effectively is because teachers are often at a loss for how to assess student learning associated with the production of a digital story.

Additionally, this workshop represents a large and complex technologically enhanced unit of study. There are many steps to the integration of a successful technologically enhanced learning experience. While few technologically enhanced learning experiences are this involved, such an experience will help you recognize the range of steps associated the development and integration of a technologically enhanced learning experience.

Recent Changes to Digital Storytelling Exploration

  • Updated Readings
    • TPACK Integration | To better integrate this exploration with the theme of TPACK, a new reading has been selected that discusses the digital storytelling workshop in the context of technological pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)
    • Place Based Learning | PBL is used, like technology integration, in part,  to enhance student engagement. A new article on PBL that is more teacher friendly and design oriented has been included in the required reading.
    • Assessing digital stories | At long last, a reading dedicated to the effective assessment of digital storytelling has been included in the required reading.
    • Digital Storytelling Across the Curriculum | a range of selected readings are now available for students to consider the integration of digital storytelling across a range of disciplines and grade levels: EC, MC, and AYA.
  • Combined Multimodal Literacy project with Digital Storytelling project | Two separate though closely related units of study have been streamlined and combined into one.
  • Focus on Digital Video | While there are scores of digital media available for digital storytelling and a variety of digital storytelling sub-genres, from digital comicstrips to nonlinear hypertext, to location-based mapping applications, after a series of online webinars that I participated in,digital storytelling in ED386 now focuses exclusively on digital video.

The digital story you produce is to respond to the question that burns most within your students: Why do I Need to Know This? 

Addressing this questionI invite you to design a digital story for the students you are currently observing. Whatever program you are in and whatever discipline you are studying, math, science, social studies or language arts, the theme of your digital story is Place Based Education: local community and/or local environment.  Whether your students are studying constitutional law or calculus, the narrative of your digital story is to relate the specific unit or lesson to the local.  In this way, your digital story will be age appropriate, discipline specific, and designed for the class you are currently observing.

Further, I invite you to produce the digital story with technology that is readily available to you such as your smart phone and WeVideo online editing  software (to be introduced in class). It will be essential that you are able to connect your phone to your YouTube Channel and to WeVideo. Some will be able to do this directly with their phones.  Others will need a USB connection to their computer or to a classroom workstation. Additionally, earbuds or headphones will prove useful.

  • Your digital story will be:
    • Produced in the form of a trailer explaining and showing to your students how their local place will be featured in this unit of study.
    • Between ~2.5 and ~3.5 minutes. (Shorter videos struggle to make their point and longer videos are beyond the scope of this exploration).
    • Fiction or nonfiction.
    • Consistent with the curriculum in the class where you are observing.
  • You are responsible for every word and every image. If you did not produce it, it better be really high quality.  And, you MUST give proper credit in a reference section (rolling credits) of your video. For music, SFX, still images or video you are welcome to draw from the public domain, such as the Creative Commons).
  • You are welcome to work individually or with one partner. If you choose to work with a partner, I expect higher production values. In other words, if you choose to collaborate, do not plan to make a longer digital story but rather focus on the quality of your digital composition.


  1. BlogPost 4:  Rhetorical Analysis of Multimodal Texts
  2. Blog Post 5: Reflections about your students
  3. Story Circle One – Blog Post 6: Digital Storytelling Script & Storyboard
    Post to your weblog and link to your digital story web page, the script and storyboard for your digital story (300-400 words). Adjacent to or embedded within the script, detail the integration of modalities not limited to text, still images, video, and audio (sound effects and music).  From your script and storyboard, it should be evident how you intend to construct meaning within and across the modalities selected for your digital story.
  4. Story Circle Two – Blog Post 7: Digital Storytelling Assessment Rubric   Post your assessment criteria to your weblog and link it to your digital story web page. The criteria you develop will be based on your understanding of your composition in relation to assessment ideas emerging from your thoughtful consideration of course readings and discussions. Based on the readings, class discussions, and your development of a digital story assessment, author a rationale discussing the criteria you chose to develop for your digital story assessment. (~250 words)
  5. Story Circle Three –Gallery time is designated for the exploration of completed multimodal compositions.
  6. Upload your digital story to your JCU or other YouTube channel. From here you can obtain an embed code for your digital story.  Embed your multimodal composition (digital story) to the digital story page of your ED386 website. 
  7. Please use the assessment that you developed to assess your digital story.

Field Observations | Reflections about your students 

Closely observe the students in your ED386/ED586 placement. Describe how they interact with each other and with the cooperating teacher. As digital storytelling is often a collaborative project, pay special attention to small group learning experiences. Synthesize what we have been reading and discussing in class about student multimodal composition / digital storytelling with the unique small group dynamics in the classroom where you are observing. You might also consider student uses of digital and social media outside of school. What are the curricular implications for teaching about multimodal literacy? What are the pedagogical implications for the integration of digital storytelling multimodal composition into a unit of study? (~ 500-750 words).


Dalton, B. (2013). Multimodal Composition and the Common Core State Standards. Reading Teacher, 66(4), 333-339.

Ohler, J. (2013) Chapter 14: Media Grammar for Teachers.  Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA : Corwin. pp. 226-244.

Arola, K., Sheppard, J., Ball, C. (2014) Chapter 2: Analyzing Multimodal Projects. In: Writer/Designer : A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. New York : Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 20-39.

Lambert, J. (2012) Chapter 5: Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. (4th Edition). Routledge : New York, NY. pp. 53-69.

Lambert, J. (2012) Chapter 7: Approaches to the Scripting Process and Chapter 8: Storyboarding, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. (4th Edition). Routledge : New York, NY. pp. 88-101.

Ohler, J. (2013) Chapter 4: Assessing Digital Stories.  Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA : Corwin. pp. 83-91.

Husbye, N. E., Buchholz, B., Coggin, L., Powell, C. W., & Wohlwend, K. E. (2012). Critical Lessons and Playful Literacies: Digital Media in PK-2 Classrooms. Language Arts, 90(2), 82-92. 

Doyle, K., & Dezuanni, M. (2014). Children participating in science through digital-media literacies. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years22(3), 42-54.

Gould, D., & Schmidt, D. (2010). Trigonometry comes alive through DIGITAL STORYTELLING. The Mathematics Teacher, 104(4), 296-301.

Miller, S. et. al. (2012) A Literacy Pedagogy for Multimodal Compositing. In: Suzanne Miller and Mary McVee (eds.). Multimodal Composition in Classrooms: Learning and Teaching for the Digital World. pp. 114-129.

Hoban, G., Nielsen, W., & Shepherd, A. (2013). Explaining and communicating science using student-created blended media. Teaching Science: The Journal of The Australian Science Teachers Association59(1), 32-35.

Gould, D., & Schmidt, D. (2010). Trigonometry comes alive through DIGITAL STORYTELLING. The Mathematics Teacher, 104(4), 296-301.

Miller, S. et. al. (2012) A Literacy Pedagogy for Multimodal Compositing. In: Suzanne Miller and Mary McVee (eds.). Multimodal Composition in Classrooms: Learning and Teaching for the Digital World. pp. 114-129.


Easelley | Create and share visual ideas, 1000s of Reporting, Timeline, Resume and
Process templates to choose from!

JCU Center for Digital Media — Equipment for checkout

BOORDS | Making storyboards can be fiddly. Boords lets you create storyboards quickly and easily, then effortlessly share them with clients and teammates.

WeVideo Academy — video editing tutorials

The University of Houston Digital Storytelling Website| Focussed on the integration of digital storytelling at their university with examples, resources, integration strategies and more.

Digital Storytelling @ UMBC | The University of Maryland website dedicated to the integration of digital storytelling at their university with examples, resources, integration strategies and more.

PBS & The National Park Service |Place-Based Digital Storytelling Modules | Eleven video tutorials and quick-start guides offering hands-on training in place-based digital storytelling. Using themes woven into the film and highlighted in the lesson plans, these modules train teachers how to integrate new media, digital storytelling, and online mapping projects in their curriculum to engage students in authentic learning.

StorieKeeper Digital storytelling iPad Apps

EdTechTeacher’s | Overview of Digital Storytelling Apps for Mobile Devices

Creative Commons | Nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Find content you can share, use and mix

Free Sound from the Audio Commons

Digital Activities For Visual Literacy | Gary G. Abud, Jr.

Digital Writing 101 | Responding to the changing nature of literacy by Amy Goodloe, an instructor at CU Boulder, specializing in teaching new media writing, with a particular interest in storytelling through new media.

Center for Digital Storytelling | (cen·ter for dig·i·tal sto·ry·tell·ing; CDS) An international nonprofit training, project development, and research organization that assists youth and adults around the world in using digital media tools to craft and record meaningful stories from their lives and share these stories in ways that enable learning, build community, and inspire justice.

50 WAYS to tell a Story /  CogDogRoo50 Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story | This wiki was hatched in 2007 by Alan Levine. At this website you will find more than fifty (50) web 2.0 tools you can use to create a web-based story. The idea is not to review or try every single one (that would be madness, I know), but pick a few that sound interesting and see what you produce.

Multimedia Storytelling : The Transition to Multimedia Storytelling By Paul Grabowicz | This web page, from the University of California, Berkeley Knight School of Journalism, offers a concise introduction to the emergence and significance of digital storytelling, a must read.

Tutorial on Multimedia Storytelling | By dividing a story into topical segments, different aspects of stories can be told in different media formats – text, video, audio, photo slideshows, graphics – that are most appropriate to the specific topic, making storytelling more engaging. (From the Berkeley Knight School of Journalism’s unique and comprehensive approach to multimedia storytelling).

Picking the right media for a story By Paul Grabowicz | This is the website that I have been searching for!  From the University of California, Berkeley Knight School of Journalism, this concise web site shares valuable information about the strengths and weaknesses of text, graphics, audio, video and still images!   A very powerful site, indeed.

Video to Amplify Not Echo text stories | Caleb Silver, executive producer for video at explains that news videos created for an online publication should “amplify not echo” text stories .

Multimedia Storytelling  By Jane Stevens | A multimedia story is some combination of text, still photographs, video clips, audio, graphics and interactivity presented on a Web site in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant.

The Multimedia Storyboard  By Jane Stevens | A storyboard is a sketch of how to organize a story and a list of its contents. It may help you: Define the parameters of a story within available resources and time. Organize and focus a story. Figure out what medium to use for each part of the story

Learning How to Make Multimedia Story Decisions  by Alfred Hermida | By multimedia story, the author means a story that smoothly integrates video, text, still photos, audio and graphics.

DS 106 | Digital Storytelling | An open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington… but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need.