Stories hold the key for unlocking the door towards powerful learning experiences. As a teacher, you’ll find that stories play a huge part in your students’ lives. They might be obsessing over their favorite books or TV shows, or their favorite Youtube personality. They’re looking for role models, a sense of community, and plainly enjoy stories in a variety of media.
This is a big opportunity to show them how they could become creators as well. Anyone who studied at least a little bit of Psychology knows that students retain information better when they make a connection between a concept and their personal stories.
Digital storytelling is no different. It can enable students to share their stories and teachers to make learning more personalized. Storytelling allows students to understand the meaning behind each assignment and nurtures their innate curiosity.
5 digital storytelling misconceptions - debunked
More and more schools integrate digital storytelling in their curriculum, which is great. However, there are still some digital storytelling misconceptions that could hinder an educator from using it to its full potential. So today, it’s all about debunking them!
Digital storytelling is only for classroom engagement
Student engagement during classroom activities is definitely improved when digital storytelling is used. However, this is not the only benefit. As this study involving 15,000 students shows, there are many direct and indirect benefits of digital storytelling.
Students are more curious about a subject, their knowledge and retention of material are also improved. Their communication skills are enhanced, as they collaborate better with teachers and students. Students develop their digital literacy skills and are more interested in new technology.
Read more: Digital literacy vs. Computer literacy: Students need to develop both
Perhaps not surprising to some teachers, students gain the ability to organize content better, a very useful skill for the future. Speaking of the future, they also show more responsibility, discover new talents, learn how to express themselves, and feel included. All of these indirect benefits will surely come in handy later on.
Digital storytelling has to be up to a high standard
Teachers need to set a standard for their students, and have high expectations for them to succeed. However, when assigning digital storytelling projects, setting too high a standard for using technology can be counterproductive. It’s not about the actual tools that they’re using, it’s about the meaning of the story.
Creating a space where students feel free to explore their creativity is the ultimate role of the teacher. On a similar note, it’s OK for students to use something the teacher doesn’t personally know how to use such as video editing software.
A general rule is that digital storytelling becomes less effective when students feel that they should play it safe and stick to one medium just to please the teacher.
Digital storytelling is time consuming
Crafting a compelling digital story doesn’t have to take a lot of time. When they immerse themselves in storytelling they are participating in an educational activity with a purpose so it’s time well spent.
To actually save time, students have more tools at their disposal than ever before, be it social media, blogs, apps etc. Digital storytelling is not just for older students that are more experienced in using technology. Even elementary school students can benefit from digital project-based learning, especially when it comes to developing their reading and writing skills.
They can also unleash their creativity for free or on a very low budget. For example, students can use green screen to tell their story, which takes less time and money than most people think.
Digital storytelling is not for STEM
Storytelling not for STEM? Say that to Columbia Assistant Professor Christopher Emdin, who uses storytelling through rap to teach science, or to Neil deGrasse Tyson. In fact, science teachers know that students learn better when storytelling is involved — yet not all of them know how to harness its power.
Teachers who successfully do this almost always use storytelling to illustrate how concepts were discovered, how things are made, and how to use science in everyday life.
Plus, storytelling can make assignments more interesting. Students can do their research to see how different professionals use Math, for example, in their work. They can use data to tell stories and create charts to support their point of view.
Students can do just as well with analog stories
I tend to agree with this partially. Personally, I prefer to read and write more than anything, which also means that I always did well academically. However, when creating their own stories, some students are better at writing essays, others are better at taking photos, and others can express themselves through stop motion animation. Educators shouldn’t be dismissive of different forms of expression.
It’s all about augmenting and finding other forms to express themselves beyond what is traditionally seen as “academic”. I, for one, love the work of Emily Bailin, a hip hop educator, who helps students tell their stories using photographs, video, music, and more.
Let’s tell a story!
According to research as well as the hands-on experience of teachers, the common myths about digital storytelling don’t hold water. There are many ways in which educators can use digital storytelling, whether it’s for assignments, classroom teaching, or as a method to create a more inclusive learning environment.
The benefits of digital storytelling extend to all types of subjects, including STEM. Yet, the greatest benefit is enabling students to find their own voice, their own strengths and talents, and giving them a space to use them to their full capacity.