Digital Storytelling Workshops

Digital storytelling is a powerful tool for empowerment, inclusion, collaborative education, sharing personal stories, improving digital skills and lifelong learning. It has been used with good results with diverse populations over the past 30 years. Digital storytelling is a workshop-based process resulting in short videos (2-4 minutes long) created using digital technologies (accessible equipment and software). Storytellers use their own words and voice, make decisions about the pictures/videos/illustrations, audio/music, and edit their videos.

Digital stories examples:

No stories to tell, by Rita (Portugal)

Crossing, by Juan (Portugal)

Memorie di una terra lontana, by Fatemeh A. (Italy)

Storytelling a lieto fine, by Gigliola C. (Italy)

The main benefits of digital storytelling are the opportunity to acquire digital skills, share experiences with others, and potentially help/model them if people choose to share their stories widely/online.

Despite all the benefits, it is essential to consider ethical principles, especially when working with people in situations of vulnerability: permissions and support should be granted throughout the different phases of the digital storytelling process (before, during and after the workshop). It is also crucial to address copyright issues.

The digital storytelling facilitators are responsible for ensuring participants’ safety and dignity (Hardy, 2015). At Storycenter.org, a set of ethical guidelines can be accessed based on the following six principles:

  • The well-being of storytellers
  • Informed consent and release procedures
  • Knowledge production and ownership
  • Local relevance
  • Ethical engagement as an ongoing process
  • Ethical story distribution

Participating in a digital storytelling workshop is very important before facilitating workshops with others so that facilitators will have experience of the process, its challenges and its rewards. At least two facilitators will be needed for a workshop because participants will likely need additional support: emotional/psychological, writing and editing and/or using technology (audio, image, and video editing). It is also essential to ensure that all the conditions are agreed upon, including decisions about when, where, and how the workshops take place and whom they are intended to reach.

Storytellers should feel empowered, informed and freely willing to participate and/or to share their stories in an environment of courtesy, kindness, and respect, with creative, technical, and emotional support. A facilitator should be able to give support to storytellers regarding the content (define the story), form (design the story in the digital form), facilitation/group management: (guide individual and group creative processes and technical (production of the creative process in digital media).

Digital stories may be about diverse themes, e.g., a significant person, place or event, a defining moment, loss, recovery, overcoming a challenge, love or discovery… what matters is that the story is about something that really matters to the storyteller. There are different stages during digital storytelling workshops: finding an idea or story; sharing in close and secure circles where feedback is provided, developing a script, recording a voiceover, selecting images and sounds, editing, and sharing (première and/or online).

Within this story cycle, story circles are essential: they have to be secure and sacred places with small groups who respect each other and the confidentiality of what is shared; people should be respected in their characteristics and their willingness to share (some may be less confident or more shy), and people should feel respected and not judged when feedback to improve or clarify is given.

Seven steps of digital storytelling (Lambert, 2010)