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  • Writer's pictureNoni Harrison

The Value of Digital Storytelling

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

The work of educational professionals in digital environments has changed with advancements in technology. Over the course of this unit I have found, in its most basic form, digital storytelling is a way to present information in a multimodal style, which supports diverse and contemporary learning needs. Digital stories can be embedded in teaching practice through a number of approaches; including, anticipatory sets, inquiry, collaboration, creation, and assessment (Simmons, 2006, as cited in Mansbach, 2016). Prior to this unit, I had used some digital resources; however, this unit has expanded my repertoire and enhanced my understanding of best use.

Digital environments have the potential to change teaching practice more than any other factor. We are all very aware of the Sage-on-the-Stage, Guide-on-the-Side, Meddler-in-the-Middle but a new focus is now on co-learning in the Social Age (Stodd, 2014). Gerstein refers to this as Education 3.0, which “is characterized [sic] by educational opportunities where the learners themselves play a key role as creators of knowledge artifacts that are shared, and where social networking and social benefits play a strong role in learning” (p. 90, 2014). As Tobler stated, a significant challenge for some teachers is to release control and put themselves in vulnerable learning situations with their students; however, with professional development and support from Teacher Librarians, teachers can overcome this (2017). New forms of storytelling; including, interactive journalism and apps benefit teachers, as they can support a range of pedagogical approaches (Malita & Martin, 2010). I have come to realise these stories are powerful tools, due to their inherent social connectedness (Stodd, 2014). They transcend the classroom, serve as collaborative platforms and integrate skills in meaningful ways (Harrison, 2017a; Simmons, 2006, as cited in Mansbach). According to the Digital Education Advisory Group, “for learners, this [approach] offers the best opportunity to achieve high quality outcomes” (p. 9, 2012). Thus, it is integral teachers embed these tools across the curriculum to create authentic learning experiences (Mills & Levido, 2011).

Research highlights the importance of good literacy skills as the backbone of quality digital stories (New, 2005; Ohler, 2008). Initially, my main concern about digital storytelling aligned with Jabr (2013), in that poor use can interfere with students’ literacy experiences. Miletich also highlighted this, particularly the impact that poor digital affordance has on comprehension (2017). This stems from the vast availability of digital texts due to the ease of digital publishing – sometimes to the detriment of quality (Dobler, 2013). There continues to be some debate over elements that enhance rather than detract from the literacy experience; therefore, evaluative criteria, such as those developed by Nokelainen (2006), is needed when selecting appropriate resources (Kingsley, 2007).

Current and future developments in social-networked literature

Embedding social-networks into teaching provides opportunities to address issues of digital citizenship (Purcell, 2014). This is something very new for some teachers who were once encouraged not to use social-networks due to the risk of inappropriate use. As I previously posted, there are now effective ways to incorporate social-networks into learning experiences; including, engaging with Good Reads (Harrison, 2017b). An article from the Huffington Post states “through utilizing [sic] teaching techniques that incorporate social media, teachers are able to increase students’ engagement in their education, increase technological proficiency, contribute to a greater sense of collaboration in the classroom, and build better communication skills” (Social networking in schools: Educators debate the merits of technology in classrooms, 2011). To benefit from this, students could use a school-based, closed-group social-network. Ultimately, to ensure appropriate use, education professionals should teach students good digital citizenship practices and consult on and follow the policies outlined by their organisation.

Issues of copyright

The internet has profoundly altered the way we access material and has presented new challenges and opportunities (National Library of Australia, 2012). Consequently, the work of Teacher Librarians must address issues of digital copyright. My initial understanding of copyright centered around appropriate referencing and some knowledge of Creative Commons but I wasn’t overly successful, as I found it very difficult to locate relevant, quality sources. I am now more familiar with sites such as Flickr and Trove, which offer Creative Commons material that can be easily attributed. I have also discovered that copyright law in Australia supports transformative use of material, which can facilitate the development of transmedia digital texts for education (National Library of Australia, p. 39, 2012). Previous copyright laws in Australia impeded the use of many published works; however, the Australian Digital Alliance and Australian Libraries Copyright Committee proposed more flexible copyright legislation be considered in their 2012 report (National Library of Australia, 2012). Some recommendations were recently passed, which makes it “easier for students and educators to use copyright material in the digital education environment” (Hare, 2017). These changes assist teachers and students in appropriately creating a range of digital literature artefacts. In current and future digital environments, it is most appropriate that teachers and students use Creative Commons material were available, so as not to infringe any potential issues of copyright.


Digital Education Advisory Group. (2012). Beyond the classroom: A new digital education for young Australians in the 21st century. Retrieved from

Dobler, E. (2013). Looking Beyond the Screen: Evaluating the Quality of Digital Books. Reading Today, 30(5), 20-21. Retrieved from

Gerstein, J. (2014). Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0. Retrieved from

Hare, J. (2017, March 23). Copyright changes get tick of approval. The Australian. Retrieved from

Harrison, N. (2017a, September 23). Digital tools [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Harrison, N. (2017b, August 17). Exploring digital forms: Incorporating tools into practice [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Jabr, F. (2013) The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American, April 11. Retrieved from:

Kingsley, K. V. (2007). Empower Diverse Learners With Educational Technology and Digital Media. Intervention In School & Clinic, 43(1), 52-56. Retrieved from

Malita, L., & Martin, C. (2010). Digital Storytelling as web passport to success in the 21st Century. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 3060-3064. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.465

Mansbach, J. (2016). Digital storytelling: Another tool to add to your pedagogy toolbox. Retrieved from

Miletich, M. (2017, August 4). The conflicting views on the benefits of digital literature [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Mills, K. A., & Levido, A. (2011). iPed: Pedagogy for digital text production. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 80-91. doi:10.1598/RT.65.1.11

National Library of Australia. (2012). Copyright and the digital economy: Submission by the Australian Digital Alliance and Australian Libraries Copyright Committee to the Australian Law Reform Commission. Retrieved from

New, J. (2005). How to use digital storytelling in your classroom. Retrieved from

Nokelainen, P. (2006). An empirical assessment of pedagogical usability criteria for digital learning material with elementary school students. Educational Technology & Society, 9(2), 178-197. Retrieved from

Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Retrieved from

Purcell, M. A. (2014). Tech tools for learning: Networked library: A guide for the educational use of social networking sites. Retrieved from

Social networking in schools: Educators debate the merits of technology in classrooms. (2011, May 27). Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Stodd, J. (2014). Exploring the Social Age and the New Culture of Learning. Lifewide Magazine, 11, 4-7. Retrieved from

Tobler, R. (2017, August 2). Digital environment [Online forum post]. Retrieved from


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