Putting it simply, digital storytelling is telling a story employing a multimedia approach which can involve any combination of video, audio, photography, painting, drawing, music, etc.
To me, digital storytelling is a new variation on an old theme. People have always told stories; part of the human experience involves passing down the details of our lives, from the incredible and extraordinary to the mundane. In this way we endeavor to be remembered when we are gone or even famous while we are still here. Stories have gone from oral recitations to book format and more recently to photographs and video. In some ways digital stories are simply an outgrowth of the basic human need to tell ones own story. Technologies change and improve, but digital stories are utilizing new and exciting technology to do essentially the same thing that Homer was trying to do with the Odyssey, tell an interesting story.
In other ways digital storytelling is a remarkably new and fascinating landscape to explore. Telling stories with any sort of visual aid allows the viewer to be engaged in a new way. Using multiple approaches to story telling enhances the viewer’s experience of the story and makes it more memorable. The involvement of the internet has democratized storytelling and made it possible for everyone to record their lives, their past and tell their stories. It has increased the possible viewing audience as well, a story which can manage to tap into the cultural zeitgeist can be viewed by thousands or even millions of people around the world.
Digital storytelling ushers in an exciting new venue for education as well. In an increasingly technological society, it is vital that educators learn how to negotiate these new avenues of possibility to their advantage. Digital storytelling offers educators a great tool, one that incorporates both the visual and the auditory to achieve a result that can be more effective than simply reading a text. In addition, a video or photograph can offer an intimacy that simply is not possible in another venue. With a video the audience can be placed inside the action, something which offers a subtlety of perspective that is much more immediate than the written word.