By definition, a digital story is a series of images accompanied by text or a soundtrack that tells a story. The genre varies and can range anywhere from fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry. The digital story has become one of the most popular writing exercises utilized in school due to its multimedia approach, which blends writing text with color, sound, movement, and images.
The Center for Digital Storytelling points out seven elements which are critical to a good digital story:
- Point of View – This talks about the author’s perspective.
- Dramatic Question — This key question captures the audience’s attention and will be answered at the end of the narrative.
- Emotional Content — These are serious issues conveyed in a personal and powerful way, helping the audience connect to the story.
- Voice — This personalizes the story with the author’s unique writing style, which aids the viewers to understand the context.
- Soundtrack — This refers to the musical scoring and other sound effects that support and embellish the story.
- Economy — This means using just enough content to tell the story without overwhelming the audience.
- Pacing — This refers to the rhythm of the story – how slowly or quickly the events progress.
These elements are essentially the goal, and may not be included in the first digital story written by a child from kindergarten. By middle school, though, with the use of the vast range of multimedia tools available in digital storytelling, students are expected to make use of all elements.
With the dawn of technology, digital storytelling is made available online with plenty of options. Here are some of the most popular platforms, choose one that will work best for you:
Adobe Spark Video integrates text, images, free clipart, original artwork, and background music, making it one of the most user-friendly digital storytelling app available today. Students are free to work on a story, render it easily into a movie, and share it through the cloud.
It encourages students to use their own voice and creativity, as its tools include everything necessary for crafting exciting and riveting stories. Using Adobe Spark Video to teach promotes nontraditional writing, but it challenges students more to learn about the characters, setting, plot, vocabulary, and the like. This app is free but is only available for iOS.
2. Puppet Pals
Puppet Pals allows students to add their own voices to an already selected cast of characters, where they could be animated to tell a story. This mobile app is for free, but the paid version provides more characters and storytelling options. Both offer a great amount of flexibility in the writing process, though, as it promotes authentic expression of ideas.
This is a unique way of teaching, allowing you to act out experiences, teach morals, how-tos, and tell different kinds of stories from various perspectives. It can be used for different writings, such as fiction, narrative, expository, and argumentative exercises.
3. Google Storybuilder
Google Storybuilder is a web-based digital storytelling platform, which aims to tell a story through text and music made by specific individuals. Log-in isn’t required, but students are allowed to register with Google accounts. You can begin by adding two or more characters and then type your story away as it unfolds. Only text is available, however, and there are no options for images and videos. This pushes students to focus on language, vocabulary, and technique.
When finished writing, you can add music from a built-in music library. The finished product will be an animated video of the entire typing experience, which includes the keyboard sounds. Using this platform allows students to write, edit, and rewrite manuscripts freely, helping them gain a foundational understanding of “point of view”.
Storykit is available for iOS users and aims to help tell stories with photos, text, audio, and even personal drawings. Each page can be created using images from the camera roll, embellished with the option to add audio, and then can be linked to be shared with others.
It can also be uploaded to the Storykit server, where it will be visible to all users. Suitable for novice writes, this reinforces the significance of various media in stories. It’s also an effective tool in narrating sets of photos, such as historical events, life cycles, and even biographies.
Storybird is a unique platform, which features a collection of high-quality artworks. Its primary purpose is to inspire writers to create and is now flourishing with over 5 million users, ranging from kindergarten up. The user will choose an artistic theme, and based on that art, create a story that can be as long as they would like. As soon as they finish, this will be saved into a booklet. This can then be shared via a link, printed, or even featured in blogs and other websites.
Besides creating your own, you are allowed to view the works of other students. This platform encourages fiction and non-fiction writing, through the use of art and images. It also enhances speaking and listening skills, as they will be free to comment on the work of others. Just like customessaymeister.com, an essay writing service, Storybird believes in the power of words. This is available both the web and as a mobile app but is only free for educators.
VoiceThread features a cloud-based and interactive approach to digital storytelling, which allows you to share images, voice recordings, videos, and even documents. It’s regarded as one of the most powerful tools out there, as it allows users to utilize a wide range of media to support their work.
Using it is intuitive, as adding media can be as simple as a click of a button and a drag-drop. As soon as the work is published, comments can be added through typing, audio, and even video. Because VoiceThread is welcoming to comments, it serves as a great avenue to generate topic conversations, along with enhancing listening and speaking skills. Once done, work will be saved as a video and can be shared with other platforms. This comes with a fee, however, but is ready for use both on the web and iOS.
Tellagami allows users to create short stories of thirty seconds, making use of an animated avatar, coined as agami. This moves and talks according to a recording of the user’s own words, which can be added via voice or typing. You can customize its appearance and emotions, as well as place it in a background selected from the camera roll or can be hand-drawn directly. After customization, an audio embellishment can be added.
Finished work can be saved to the camera roll, shared via email as well as on social media. This is particularly helpful for students who dislike seeing themselves on a visual recording, and the game makes communication easier. Since there are limited options for adding images or text, it is easy-to-use for a quick presentation method. Tellagami has a free and paid version but is only available for iOS users.
8. Zimmertwins at School
Zimmertwins at School is based on the popular Zimmertwins, which is about two 12-year-olds wielding psychic powers. This platform is education-based, mainly used to make animated short films using those two characters. It also includes predetermined actions, dialogue, expressions, backgrounds, and other relevant texts necessary to turning these into original stories in almost any topic.
This platform is close to a format of a comic book – users can add speech bubbles and transitional words, similar to a comic’s nature. Teachers can manage student activity through the dashboard, where lost passwords can also be restored. Zimmertwins is a great platform for the introduction of digital stories using animation and movies. It’s best used for creative writing and crafting short stories.
Writing has always been evolving. With the steady rise of digital storytelling, the modern way of storytelling, using digital platforms can keep students engaged and eager to learn.