Digital Storytelling is a week-long course offered during Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). This course explores the combination/collision/collusion of storytelling techne with features, affordances, and constraints of digital media to prompt rewarding Digital Humanities scholarship, teaching, and creative practices. Desired outcomes include experimentation and making prototypes for digital stories. I offer a second DHSI course, Sound and Digital Humanities. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.
Topics include storytelling as a fundamental human activity, combining storytelling techniques and computational technologies, and organizing and managing digital storytelling projects.
This course uses a flexible, iterative approach to introduce and explore digital storytelling for Digital Humanities (DH) scholarship, pedagogy, and creative practices. Discussions, workshops, and collaborative learning help participants conceptualize, plan, and develop digital stories. Participants can apply course learning and resources to ongoing DH projects, and experiment with new knowledge and/or skills.
10-14 June 2019
Previously offered: June 2018, 2017, and 2016
A range of approaches to digital storytelling will be considered—oral/aural history, linking multiple lexia (hypertext), multimedia, and transmedia—each with an eye toward providing compelling narrative experiences. Fundamental to any approach is to consider first the story, and then what digital media/technologies will facilitate its telling. Course activities include discussions, workshops, and collaborative learning. No previous experience with digital storytelling or specific digital technologies or platforms is required. Rather than analysis and critique, participants will be introduced to basic approaches and tools, and encouraged to conceptualize projects or develop either a framework or prototype for an ongoing digital storytelling project. This is not to suggest that digital storytelling is clear of nuance and/or tension, but rather to focus on iterative conceptualizing and creating in support of scholarship and pedagogy. Making informs knowing.
DHSI participants are DH scholars—faculty and graduate students—aligned with international research centers, libraries, and academic departments. In addition to this course, they also participate in other intensive, collaborative, multi-disciplinary classes and seminars ranging in subject matter from text encoding basics to strategies for large project management.
Available in open and portable electronic format. Read it online, print at your convenience, or use the print-on-demand service at the University of Victoria Bookstore and pick up when you arrive on campus.
Resources > Storytelling
I maintain a separate webpage with access to MANY digital storytelling resources. Have some to add? Please let me know.
I maintain many resources in support of my teaching and creative practices. Feel free to browse.
Artifacts as Stories
Humanities has long considered art, architecture, dance, music, text, and more as artifacts of human endeavor and creative expression. I see such artifacts as stories that describe and define humanity.
Information, Message, Interface
A story is information, a message shared with an audience. The message is the point of the information. The story is an interface, a way of accessing the message, and its information.
Print, static and linear, has, for centuries, been the dominant, purposefully designed interface for accessing stories. The digital turn promotes new features, affordances—possibilities, opportunities—and constraints. All resituate the potential for delivering stories in multiple, different ways using new interfaces.
Digital storytelling combines digital media features, affordances, and constraints with storytelling techne to create and share stories. Where documentaries, essays, historical and/or eye witness accounts, memoirs, narratives, research findings and/or presentations, each speaking to aspects of human culture and creative endeavor, have long been told in one way, using one medium, they now, with digital storytelling might use animation, audio, graphics, multiplayer games, music, narration, social media, video, web publishing, writing, sound, and more to tell stories in many ways, using many media.
Humanities scholarship is not empirical, contiguous, reproducible. After all, we are studying the unresolvable relation between conception and execution of artifacts as representations of widely diverse human endeavors. Everything is subject to interpretation. This is not necessarily bad. Interpretation makes community through shared knowledge. Community practice makes interpretation.
Digital Humanities, with its overlay of multiple critical inquiry opportunities and traditional Humanities approaches, facilitates now opportunities for Humanities research, scholarship, teaching, and learning, thus promoting the ambiguity of multiple interpretations
As result, there is no longer a single voice dominating the page, or screen. There is opportunity for another voice, or several. Digital humanistic design promotes alternate voices existing equally and simultaneously, thus subverting the "univoice" of static graphic organization.
Digital storytelling, through its combining computational technologies with storytelling techne promotes critical thinking, communication, literacy, and civic engagement.
Scope of Course
The affordances and features provided by digital technologies are not the story, however, but rather a tool for helping provide engaging storytelling. With digital storytelling, the essential ingredients of a good narrative remain relevant, as does interest in telling and listening to good stories. This course considers literacy, fluency, and approach to explore digital storytelling.
◊ What is possible? What can be done with digital storytelling?
◊ What forms and/or genres of digital storytelling exist?
◊ What forms and/or genres of digital storytelling MIGHT exist?
◊ What are the prompts for experimentation and remix, creative practice?
◊ What tools to use
◊ What skills to acquire
◊ How to put these resources into practice.
Approach can be either
◊ Collaborative (perhaps required for more complex/ambitious projects).
Questions Regarding Digital Storytelling We Should Consider
◊ How might we use digital storytelling for creating and consuming Digital Humanities scholarship?
◊ How might digital storytelling promote teaching and learning?
◊ How might digital storytelling enrich storytelling experiences by promoting the telling of different stories, or telling stories in different ways?
◊ How might digital storytelling serve as a form of tinkering apparati for collaborative thinking and/or creating, as a mode of knowledge production?
◊ How might digital storytelling promote social and/or open access knowledge?
◊ How might digital storytelling facilitate the creation and consumption of knowledge that will engage, enlighten, and involve diverse readers/interactors/participants?
Approaches to Digital Storytelling
A broad definition and scope for digital storytelling fosters multiple approaches. Here are some we can consider this week as "hands on," introductory ways of moving from theorization to realization.
◊ Oral history
Start with voice recordings. The storyteller's voice is at the heart of every story.
Package and distribute sound-based stories in a convenient and accessible method.
Combine video, images, text, voice, and other sounds. The original form of digital storytelling and still very effective.
Connect multiple lexis (screens of text or other information) via clickable links.
◊ Location awareness
Situate the narrative on, or at, a specific location.
Interact / participate with the narrative.
Leverage particular features / affordances of selected media to provide multiple, different yet connected narrative experiences focused on the same story. Tell the story across different media platforms in ways not possible using only one media.
◊ Augmented reality
Connect digital content to the physical world through augmented reality.
◊ Virtual reality
Create new worlds and ways to be in them.
Outcomes. True Stories.
There is only so much that we can do. But, we most do that much even if we don't know how much it is that we can do. In doing what we can do, we want to avoid the Crises of Reality: the realization that we can't do something as well as we would like, and so stop, or give up. You are encouraged to conceptualize and develop small scale digital stories and/or prototypes for larger, more extended projects. Start with a good story. Overlay it with digital. Make it better. Share it with more people. You can do this. No crises of reality for you! See the "Projects" menu tab above for examples from previous courses.
◊ Determine what story you want to tell
◊ Determine what affordances of what media will help tell that story.
My name is John Barber. I convene with the faculty of Creative Media & Digital Culture at Washington State University Vancouver, USA. LEARN more about my teaching, research, scholarship, and creative practice.
I have facilitated this Digital Storytelling course at DHSI since 2016. I have also facilitated, since 2014, another DHSI course, Sound and Digital Humanities.
My DHSI began in 2012 and 2013 when I collaboratively taught a course on Mobile App Design and Development. Course goals were to
1). Conceptualize the space and special features of mobile devices.
2). Develop the architecture, design, and multimedia content production for a mobile project.
3). Understand the coding and programming requirements for mobile devices.
Comments from 2018 class
The instructor is the major strength of the course. John is very passionate about digital storytelling and a wealth of knowledge. At the same time, he is very encouraging and helps students with executing their own visions. Our class is very diverse in interests (from 19th century French literature to mass shootings—me), and he has seamlessly woven himself throughout to be able to help us all. I loved having time to create my own project under his guidance and am VERY pleased with how it turned out.
John was gracious with time, supportive, encouraging, enthusiastic about material and about student projects/learning.
An engaging instructor, with relevant experience and knowledge of many resources. There was a really great balance between instruction and workshopping/creation of projects with on-going feedback from the instructor.
We did not discuss the course pak readings at all. While I appreciate his platform agnostic approach, it think it would have been helpful for many in the class to see examples of a variety of platforms early on, and to discuss pros/cons. Some clearly benefited from lots of time to work on their individual projects; I would have benefited from some more structured investigations and interactions.
For students with clear sense of project, having two full days to work on it seemed great. For students who were less sure of specific project, and more looking for ideas, they/we might have appreciated more direct instruction and discussion. With a weeklong class, perhaps there could have been some discussion of theoretical or critical issues.
RESPONSE: I appreciate these comments, especially those about improvement. Perhaps I need to be more clear that this course has a more "boot camp" than "theoretical" orientation. The intent is to introduce a number of approaches for digital storytelling and then encourage experimentation, "hands on" doing rather than discussions of underlying theory and/or critical evaluation.
These example projects are provided by the course participants who created them. They demonstrate the range of conceptual and experimental projects undertaken during this course.
DHSI 2018, 11-15 June
Sixteen individuals from Canada and the United States participated in this course. Example projects include the following.
In Black: Johnny Cash Fandom & Fan Culture
An audio slideshow featuring Johnny Cash tribute performers, fans and fan culture.
DHSI 2017, 5-9 June
Eleven individuals from Canada and the United States participated in this course. Example projects include the following.
A personal perspective of a slow motion disaster.
DHSI 2016, 6-10 June
Twenty two individuals from Canada and the United States participated in this course. Example projects include the following.
Rabbits DHSI 2016
Masha Shpolberg, Mia Zamora, Celia Carlson, Michael Hennessey, Jessica Tremblay
A mockumentary video about the disappearance of rabbits from the University of Victoria campus.
Telling Stories at DHSI
Colleen Renihan, Andrew Prellwitz, Liam Murphy, James O'Sullivan
Interviews with Alyssa Arbuckle, Diane Jakacki, and Ray Siemens about the annual Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). Furthermore, they speak to a few of the field's many voices, who share what DH means to them. This work is Episode #4 (June 2016) of Cultural Mechanics podcast by O'Sulllivan. Topics emerge from O'Sullivan's research and interest in digital culture, electronic art, critical media, creative technologies, and Digital Humanities.
A very honest and personal account of trauma associated with adolescent self-identification.