Storytelling is one of the oldest occupations and one that has been respected and admired in communities for centuries. Long before words were written and even longer before word processing began, stories were passed down through oral tradition. Through speech and song, information, history and culture were shared and passed from generation to generation. Fast forward to 2018 and the options for storytelling have expanded. Besides oral, written and picture stories, the digital age has opened new additional modes of storytelling. 21st-century kids experience these daily, and because of this access, have the potential to become competent and creative digital storytellers. Summer camp can give them a boost, teaching important communication skills they can use in school, in future careers or to simply tell their stories.

The Emergence of Digital Storytelling

As an art form, digital stories involve some combination of photos, drawings, videos, sound effects, music and spoken narration. Jason Ohler, educator, writer, speaker and self-proclaimed “student of the future,” believes that mastering digital storytelling can elevate passive consumers of technology to active multimedia creators. Here are some important considerations:

  • Digital storytelling gives voice to anyone with a computer, cell phone, tablet or other device. The availability of multimedia, photo and sound editing software means you don’t have to be an artist or a musician to include these elements in your story.
  • Digital stories can be produced with little to no cost through the use of shareware and personal or royalty-free media. They can be published online, again with no cost, to reach an invited or worldwide audience via hosting websites like YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Advanced technologies, once reserved for professionals, have provided creators with additional tools to expand their resources and help them place themselves inside their stories. These include chroma key editing (green screen) and virtual reality.
  • Digital storytelling has a strong draw for those who have grown up in the digital world, making it an engaging and familiar tool for self-expression, sharing information and completing school assignments. As a medium, it can showcase a personal narrative, but also an innovative solution, a novel idea or a creative vision.
  • Using tools like an outline, story map or storyboard helps to keep the emphasis on the story rather than allowing the medium to take center stage. They allow the storyteller to create a setting, characters and plot that move the action forward.

Applications of Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling has a variety of diverse applications. These fall into two broad categories: entertainment and education. Storytelling has always provided entertainment, and the digital variety has unlimited potential. Gaming is a popular way to portray dramatic stories in which players can interact with characters and other story elements.  Virtual and augmented reality, from sources as diverse as Pokémon GO to the New York Times are making stories come to life for curious and adventurous users. Video stories uploaded to hosting sites such as YouTube can be entertaining and informative. All of these applications are being used increasingly to educate kids from pre-K all the way through college and into the corporate and industrial realms. And digital storytelling has become an effective way for people of all ages to present their own ideas.

Becoming a Digital Storyteller

Kids are imaginative and most love technology in any form—this means that digital storytelling is a natural undertaking, and one that they can use in school. Galileo Summer Quest offers several options to expand campers’ digital storytelling capacity. Mobile Game Design and Mod Design with Minecraft® provide two options to tell one’s story through gaming. Each involves middle school kids in creating the characters, setting and actions around which their story revolves.

With the benefits of the latest hardware and software, expert mentors and enthusiastic peer reviewers, the week-long adventures provide opportunities to complete personal projects kids can be proud of. The Virtual Reality major enables campers to tell their story through elaborate immersive environments that create a realistic experience for their audience. Kids use VR headsets at camp, then leave with their own cardboard viewer. For an opportunity to create and post their own video stories, YouTube Producers helps kids develop video production and editing skills. After exploring and creating various video genres, GSQ campers will post their creations on their own YouTube channel. In addition to the technical skills learned, they are exercising critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Each of these storytelling modes becomes a powerful method for enhancing literacy and communication skills, thus giving kids useful and transferable learning tools.

Supports for 21st Century Learning  

Though traditional methods like the five-paragraph essay or multiple choice tests still have applications, educators are increasingly seeking alternative ways for students to demonstrate their learning. Since digital storytelling allows the creator to use a variety of elements, including photos, video, music, sound and special effects, it offers users a lot of versatility and the opportunity to personalize their story. 21st century kids easily embrace this method of communication that is growing in popularity.

By learning a few key skills and having the opportunities and support to practice them, kids can add digital storytelling to their communications toolbox. This provides a means for personal expression and creativity, but also gives them additional ways to demonstrate and showcase what they have learned. Digital storytelling creates a lasting record of kids’ creative expression that can entertain and inform even as it supports 21st-century learning standards.

To find a digital storytelling learning adventure in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, you can register for camp today.