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Utilizing Digital Storytelling as a Nursing Education Tool

Created Apr 03 2019, 02:25 PM by LIPPINCOTT NURSING EDUCATION
  • Student Engagement
  • Digital Learning

By Lisa Shustack, EdD., RN
Assistant Professor, Director of Undergraduate Nursing

Misericordia University, Dallas, Pennsylvania

Are you a nurse educator looking for innovative teaching and learning tools to use in your classroom to engage students? Digital storytelling can be used in the classroom as an academic tool to engage digital age students in constructivist learning. Digital storytelling is first, storytelling and second, digital. Digital stories are simply a technology infused method for helping students explore and combine the power of story with critical thinking. For many nurse educators, creating a digital classroom may bring on a mixture of inspiration, intimidation, and confusion. Following a few key steps in creating a digital storytelling assignment may help to make your digital classroom more manageable, productive, and fun.

If you are feeling apprehensive but curious about using digital technology in your assignments, it should be noted that developing media-based assignments does not require the teacher to be media specialists. The Generation Z students are the most Web-savvy, app-friendly generation making a digital assignment the perfect complement to their natural tendency to use technology in every aspect of their daily lives. Creating a link between the technology students are already using and their academic course work in the form of a story can stimulate creativity and critical thinking.


So where to begin?

Consider all the assignments that require students to present PowerPoint presentations to their classmates in hopes of sharing content information. Within 10 minutes the audience interest and attention begins to fade along with all hope of information sharing. Now consider the same assignment with students sharing information in the form of an interesting digital story that captures the audience’s attention and stimulates learning. Following these key steps can help transform stagnant oral presentations into captivating stories which will engage students and energize learning.


Creating Digital Storytelling Assignments

1. Have Clear Assignment Learning Objectives

As with any assignment, beginning with clear learning objectives for the assignment provides the student with a clear understanding of what they should learn from the assignment. Encouraging the students to review and focus on the learning objectives while creating their digital story board will help them critically evaluate the story content. The learning outcomes should focus on the assignment objectives rather than on the technology component of the assignment. Reassuring students that their technology skill level will not impact their grade will help to prevent the technology from overshadowing the learning experience.

2. Begin Story Board Development

Once students have completed the learning assignment it is then time to put their learning experience into a story format. Developing a storyboard requires the student to critically think and reflect upon their learning. The digital story can be an overview of the assignment and the overall learning experience students want to share with each other. The students should be encouraged to consider the following elements of creating an engaging story:

  • A beginning, middle, and end. Students should map out their story to ensure it has appropriate flow. Identifying the most important events from the beginning, middle and end helps the student understand the process and organize the process.
  • Emotional engagement. Most of us are familiar with emotional engagement with media from the entertainment we choose to watch. However, in education, teachers need to determine how much emotional engagement is appropriate for the subject matter. With that said, when students are encouraged to self-reflect on their learning emotional engagement among the audience typically occurs.
  • Narrative. The spoken narrative will carry the story. Students should be encouraged to script out the narrative and practice with tone and pacing. Alternatively, the narrative of the story can occur in the form of digital text within the story highlighted with soundtrack music.
  • Sound and Imagery. The images, video and music students select to highlight their story should be carefully selected and appropriate to the context. Appropriate music and imagery can stimulate emotional engagement but can also overwhelm or draw attention away from the story content.
  • Story length. Keeping digital classroom stories to a limited time frame will be an important element in project design. Stories that are approximately 3 – 4 minutes in length can capture and keep the audience’s attention. Limiting the story length will also force the story creator to weed out what is not important and prioritize what it.

3. Select Media

After the students have assembled the critical elements of their story they can now begin the creative process of selecting the media to build their digital tale. This is where students can have autonomy to select a Web-based platform or internet application appropriate for movie production. There are dozens of free applications for both Android and IOS operating systems that will allow students to create digital movies directly on the smartphone. Once created, students will have the opportunity to share their movie on social media platforms or in the classroom. Encouraging creativity with the digital story will result in an excitement for learning and anticipating for sharing their final product with the class.

Nurse educators are challenged to find creative and innovative methods for engaging students while stimulating critical thinking. Digital storytelling assignments can be an effective methodology for conveying information and stimulating critical thought while making meaningful connections. Every student has a story to tell. Let them be heard!