Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. There are a wealth of other terms used to describe this practice, such as digital documentaries, computer-based narratives, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive storytelling, etc.; but in general, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.

Creating a digital story involves following many of the same steps that would be followed in writing a well-researched essay. Below you'll find resources to help guide this process.


As with most things, the more time you spend on this planning step the easier the later steps will go.

Sharing your knowledge digitally allows you to engage wider audiences and add elements that you normally wouldn't be able in an essay such as video and audio. For most of you, you'll be given directions, a prompt, or problem to solve. These directions usually help guide you in terms of content, time frame, and requirements for your final project. As in any format, each story will need a beginning, middle and end.

7 Elements of Digital Storytelling

According to in Berkeley, California, there are 7 key elements to keep in mind when creating a digital storytelling piece.

Point of View Before anything else, make sure you have decided what point you're trying to convey and what perspective you bring to this video. What is this story saying? A Dramatic Question Pose a question that your viewer can connect with their lives or experiences, and provide a compelling answer.Emotional Content What about your research and its implications engages viewers emotionally, not just intellectually?The Gift of Your Voice Personalize your research to help the audience connect. Why are you well positioned to tell this story?
The Power of the Soundtrack Don't forget about audio cues beyond your voice. How can music or sound effects immerse your audience, create a mood, or emphasize a point?Economy It takes a lot to hold someone's interest for over 5 minutes of video. Holding someone's interest for 2-3 minutes is much easier. Keep it no longer than a video you'd want to watch.Pacing The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses. Trust your own sense of what works. Is it entertaining and well paced to you?

Outline your project - but don't script it. - You want it to sound natural. Google "storyboarding worksheet" and you will find a ton of examples.

  1. If you are working in a group, who is saying what?
  2. What are the different segments/chapters in this project?
  3. Be sure to include an intro and conclusion.
  4. What order will the content flow?
  5. Are there any music or noise files you wish to incorporate?


Guided by the flow you have sketched out in your storyboard and outline, you should collect images, video clips, and/or audio clips that complement and support the major points you intend to make in your story. As you do so, you will want to begin to finalize your narrative as well, keeping in mind the images or sounds that may accompany your words.

Please remember that copyright, fair use, intellectual property, and open access resources are all important aspects to consider when gathering digital materials.

    • Read these copyright guidelines before beginning to piece together your digital story.
    • Quality and resolution of potential digital materials should also be an important factor in deciding whether or not to use a particular resource in the project.

Creating Your Content

Using the right equipment is key! Visit the TLC (Tech Lending Center) in basement of Harris and see what equipment, microphones, recording devices you can check out for three days at a time.

More tips:

  • Do not use your phone or built in computer microphone to record. The sound quality is usually not that great. Check out an external microphone from the Tech Lending Center instead!
  • Practice on whatever devices you choose to use to make sure it sounds and looks good!
  • Plan to capture your audio and video on the same devices as much as possible to make sure the quality stays consistent.
  • Make sure you have enough storage space on your device to save your files.




It's time to put it all together!

In this step, you begin the process of putting it all together. While completing this step, refer to these Educational Elements of Digital Storytelling from the Digital Storytelling Center:

1. The Overall Purpose of the Story

2. The Narrator's Point of View

3. A Dramatic Question or Questions

4. The Choice of Content

5. Clarity of Voice

6. Pacing of the Narrative

7. Use of a Meaningful Audio Soundtrack

8. Quality of the Images, Video & Other Multimedia Elements

9. Economy of the Story Detail

10. Good Grammar and Language Usage


As in writing, it is important to allow yourself time to do multiple "drafts" of your digital story. Editing a digital story involves paying attention to many more elements - you may want to not only edit the narrative itself, but also do various takes of the spoken narration of the text to fix timing or change songs and rearrange images.



  • All F&M users have access to for tutorials on how to use many of these products.


  • Video files are LARGE files. Save your project in your Google Drive or post it to YouTube and share from there.