Storytelling has always been a significant part of history, but the means through which the stories have been told has evolved with each civilization. From the oral histories presented by bards in ancient courts, to the works of scribes during the Renaissance, to newspapers, CNN, and now the Internet, personal narrative has been used to communicate the events of the past. Digital media now combines tradition with technology and allows students to tell stories through voice, text, images, audio, and video.

Digital stories allow students to take a linear series of events and turn them into a multidimensional experience. It encourages them to communicate, collaborate, and research as well as to infuse media into the process. A plethora of tools and apps exists to create these projects, and all of them enable students to gain a deeper understanding of history as they explore the most effective way to retell it. Visit our digital storytelling apps page for recommendations for any device.

Digital Storytelling Examples

5th Grade Ellis Island Narratives

This VoiceThread project was designed to enable students to truly feel the immigrant experience. Students closely examine images looking for clues to foster understanding.

“Telling Their Stories” – Oral History Archive Project of the Urban School

Visit “Telling Their Stories” and read, watch, and listen to perhaps the best student-created oral history project in the country. High School students at the Urban School of San Franciso have produced three impressive oral history interviews featured at this site: Holocaust Survivors and Refugees, World War II Camp Liberators, and Japanese-American Internees. Urban school students conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, created hundreds of movie files associated with each transcript, and then posted the full-text, full-video interviews on this public website.

Youth Producing Change – Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

Adobe Youth Voices and Human Rights Watch present Youth Producing Change, an innovative program of youth-produced short films from across the globe.

Media Resources

Rich media is the key to a good digital story. The resources below will help students find what they need.

  • Wikimedia Commons – a wiki database of Creative Commons or Public Domain images.
  • Flickr – a photo and video sharing site where most works are licensed under Creative Commons. The Advanced Search allows students to search only for Creative Commons licensed media.
  • FlickrStorm – another way to search through Flickr that provides even more results. There is an option to search for only images that have been licensed for reuse.
  • Jamendo – a music sharing site of all legal to use songs.
  • Google Advanced Image Search – setting the usage rights shows images that are labeled with a Creative Commons license
  • Library of Congress – an online catalog of thousands of prints and photos currently archived at the LOC. Most of the resources can be published without having to seek permission, and they provide terrific digital artifacts for historical stories.
  • National Archives – billions of images, videos, and digital documents can be found and integrated into projects.

How to Integrate Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling can be integrated in any number of ways:

  • Create a virtual tour of a country or historical place.
  • Create a public service announcement on an important local or world issue.
  • Simulate an interview of a historical character.
  • Simulate a debate on an historical topic, such as the Bill of Rights.
  • Create a presentation based on images of local artifacts and architecture.