Guest Post: ‘What is Digital Storytelling?’

Posted on 30/01/2013 by


photo-2Guest post by Alex Henry:

Everyone has a story, or two, or three to tell. And one way to make people’s stories heard is through digital storytelling. This is a process where groups work together, provide peer support and share experiences with one another to create their own personal digital stories.  The participants’ experience in workshops is just as important as the end product of the digital story.

A digital story is a short personal piece of audio-visual material that people can make for themselves.  It is usually a personal audio recording combined with photographs of friends and family, personal objects or artwork.  The stories last for two to three minutes.

The creation of digital stories is a participant-led process.  Each participant has complete ownership and control over their story.  They come up with the concept, write script, record and edit the script, and select the visual material, before producing the story in the film making software.  Through a series of workshop sessions, participants gain the necessary skills to complete all these stages themselves.

photo-1Digital storytelling is all about listening, spending time with people and building positive relationships.  Participants  are revealing personal stories and life experiences, and it takes time to build trust and rapport within a group.

Sharing experiences is an important part of the process – whether that’s initial  story sharing with the group at the start of a project, or the more public screening of finished digital stories, either online or at a public event.  I know of instances where the process and public screening of these personal stories have moved and touched viewers and story creators to the point that it is has made a positive difference to their lives.

I work with communities and individuals to support them to document their own stories.  Whether this is about recovering and living with mental health issues, personal experience of alcohol misuse within a community, a young person’s experiences of living in poverty, or a personal memories of Newcastle past.

I work in partnership with community organisations, and agencies in voluntary, statutory and commercial sectors to promote wellbeing, learning, health, cultural understanding, community development and cultural/heritage development.

Digital storytelling is a great tool for museums. While I was coordinating the Culture Shock Digital Storytelling project, led and managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums between 2008-2011, I was often asked why we were delivering such a project.  My answer is simple; museums are all about telling stories and they need to collect them for future generations.  Digital storytelling is a technique which museums can adopt to help ensure their collections remain relevant and enable them positive relationships with the communities they serve.

Alex Henry