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The Growing Role of Digital Storytelling In Education

  • Published on: April 3, 2024
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  • Updated on: May 19, 2024
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  • Reading Time: 8 mins
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Authored By:

Akhil Pawa

Associate Director - Ed Services

Digital storytelling in education extends beyond elementary earners to include higher education learners. It serves as a promising instructional strategy as well as an emerging field of study among university learners. Institutes are increasingly using digital storytelling as a powerful tool to engage students in reflection by enabling them to create short videos using images, video clips, and audio to illustrate a story. This method allows students to effectively interact with others and understand the concept better.

An excellent example of digital storytelling can be seen in the project “The Path of Exile,” created by the students at the University of Kragujevac under the guidance of Beth Wendt. This project was also sponsored by the  US Department of State Office of English Language Programs.

The scope of digital storytelling in education extends beyond elementary learners to include higher education learners. It serves as a promising instructional strategy as well as an emerging field of study among university learners. Institutes are increasingly using, teaching, and facilitating the use of digital storytelling in higher education to engage students in reflection. What’s more, they are also leveraging the potential of digital storytelling to build community engagement.

While discussing the power of digital storytelling at the Times Education Summit 2020, the University of Sydney stated that it experienced a 31% increase in sentiment tracking when it allowed its students to engage in storytelling for the university’s social media account during COVID-19.  By adopting digital storytelling, institutes can go beyond the curriculum to impart digital, visual, technological, and information literacy to modern learners.

Engaged in a Digital Storytelling In Education project, a group of three students sitting at a desk in a coworking space and using a laptop.


Digital Storytelling and Immersive Stories For Higher Ed Learning

Digital Storytelling in education is the use of multimedia platforms to support the learning process. It blends graphics, audio, video, music, and text to create an engaging story for enhanced learning outcomes. The story revolves around a chosen concept, which requires research by the storyteller for effective translation. If implemented effectively, digital storytelling can enable learners to understand the process of synthesizing, analyzing, and evaluating. This also helps in presenting information in a structured manner to derive tangible conclusions.

The Centre For Digital Storytelling lists Seven Elements essential to creating effective digital stories. Right from developing a clear point of view to gaining complete control over the rhythm of the story, the elements guide an individual to master the art of digital storytelling for effective learning outcomes.

1. Point of view – Using the first-person pronoun ‘I’ as opposed to the distant third-person point of view.

2. Dramatic Question – To create interest and commitment.

3. Emotional Content – To evoke emotions and ensure validation.

4. Economy – Using few images, few words, and few effects to communicate effectively.

5. Pacing – Pulling back and racing forward when the story calls for it.

6. The Gift of Your Voice – To convey meaning and intent in a very personal way.

7. Soundtrack – To enhance and underscore the accompanying story.


Impact of Digital Stories on Student Engagement

When we talk about “Digital storytelling,” we refer to the 7 elements that provide a structured framework to enhance the effectiveness and impact of the whole story. Does this require the high involvement of an individual? Certainly, because each element, from defining the point of view and posing a dramatic question to incorporating emotional content, even the storyteller’s voice, soundtrack, economy, and pacing, demands careful consideration and creativity.

This requires the storyteller to invest time and effort in understanding the purpose of the story, shaping the narrative, selecting appropriate content, and ensuring clarity, quality, and coherence throughout the storytelling process. Digital stories ought to be visually and audibly appealing as well as emotionally thought-provoking, offering an immersive experience for both – the storyteller and the audience.

The seven-element approach to digital storytelling underlines the need for high individual involvement and research. The process requires learners to select suitable tools and develop the story’s narrative in advance, enhancing their critical thinking skills (the selection of appropriate tools and narrative development of the story in advance that sharpen the critical thinking skills of learners). It improves communication as the individual starts interlinking the flow of thoughts. Moreover, the setting offers significant scope for personal improvement by building on confidence through presentations and public speaking.

Creating a digital story of course material can help reinforce classroom concepts and transform information into practical knowledge. It evokes the interest of the listener, which increases classroom engagement. Further, digital storytelling in education has also been found to be an effective communicative language teaching-based method for classrooms where English is the second language. The pupils of rural Kelantan in Malaysia demonstrated higher engagement and participation in ESL lessons (English as a second language) after being involved in digital storytelling in classrooms.

 A girl student wearing headphones is watching a digital storytelling in education video on a tablet.


Exploring Techniques for Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

In today’s technological age, a plethora of digital mediums can serve as digital storytelling platforms. While storytelling is more important than technology, the right medium can help amplify the voice of the storyteller and ensure the effective integration of concepts. Dr. Basalo from the University Of Miami explains how he advocates the use of Microsoft Sway and Adobe Spark among his students to create digital stories for concepts surrounding the MAE301: Material Science course. As digital platforms proliferate, educators are also looking for alternative ways to inculcate digital storytelling in higher education. The Binghamton State University Of New York envisions providing students with the opportunity to explore podcasts, websites, story maps, and video ethnographies as part of their final course projects. Modern-day classrooms can implement a variety of ways to create a digital story, including:


Storyboards are graphic organizers that enable the creation of illustrations and images in a sequence to bring the story to life. It also facilitates characters and props for effective visualization. Educators can leverage these tools in classrooms to design posters, illustrations, and plotting timelines.


A variety of graphic tools can be used to create flyers, collages, animations, and storyboards. Depending on the plot, the user can select from a large library of templates available and drag and drop elements for effective story design.


Videos can be a powerful way to narrate stories as they allow the narrator to pre-record topics and ensure complete control over the pace of the story. With the increasing number of video creation tools, users can easily collate and enhance clips to convey a larger message. Moreover, videos allow independent access to the narrator’s point of view, which can be utilized to address a large audience that is far away.


Audiobooks are recordings of books and other written work in audio format. Audiobooks of textbook concepts can help students build and enhance fluency, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.


Podcasts are an effective way to build on the concept of the story. The use of high-quality sounds and music makes the process of learning fun and interesting. Further, collaboration with experts can induce a conversational aspect to the story, which widens the scope of learning and hones the cognitive skills of listeners as they establish patterns between topics. Universities are using the medium to generate awareness about emerging fields of education. The Naked Scientists Podcast, hosted by the University of Cambridge, introduces audiences to cutting-edge engineering and material science research to encourage students to pursue a career in the sector.


Websites can be a great way to put forward the larger purpose of the story. They serve as dynamic web-based digital storytelling platforms that support the integration of multiple characters and insights. They present a holistic view of the story and allow the audience to navigate it at their own pace.

As with every great storyteller ever, the objective is to remain authentic. While the use of digital storytelling in education heralds a new era in learning, technical considerations loom large. Students can get too involved in the process, and the purpose of storytelling takes the backseat. Ensuring educator moderation is imperative for effective digital translation. Going forward, educators must advocate digital storytelling to ensure comprehensive student development.



Written By:

Akhil Pawa

Associate Director - Ed Services

Akhil is a seasoned immersive learning practitioner with about 20 years of experience in developing innovative learning & training products. Beyond being a pioneer in digital learning strategies, Akhil is a leading advocate for using emerging technologies to create highly effective learning experiences. His expertise lies not just in implementing immersive technologies but also in managing large-scale programs with a focus on learning efficacy and user engagement. He also possesses a great track record of developing creative, accessible, and memorable learning products using AR, VR, simulations, and games. Akhil's commitment to learning efficacy, effectiveness, analytics, and user engagement sets him apart as a leader in the field of immersive learning.


Digital storytelling in education refers to using multimedia platforms to support learning by combining graphics, audio, video, music, and text to create engaging narratives for enhanced learning outcomes, distinct from traditional storytelling methods.

Digital storytelling benefits higher education learners by promoting deeper understanding, critical thinking, and creativity. It fosters engagement, reflection, and community involvement, thereby enriching the educational experience for university students.

Implementing digital storytelling in higher education involves steps such as selecting appropriate tools and resources, guiding students in research and narrative development, and integrating storytelling activities into course curricula to align with learning objectives.

Educators ensure that digital storytelling in the classroom aligns with learning objectives and curriculum standards by carefully designing storytelling activities to address specific educational goals and evaluating student outcomes against established criteria.

Besides commonly used platforms like Microsoft Sway and Adobe Spark, alternative digital storytelling mediums include interactive websites, podcasts, audiobooks, and video ethnographies, offering educators and students diverse options for storytelling expression.

Digital storytelling contributes to fostering community engagement within educational institutions by providing platforms for students to share their stories, connect with peers and faculty, and collaborate on projects that address real-world issues and promote social awareness.

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