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GWRTC 103: Fall 2011
Cynthia Martin

Cycle #3: Digital Storytelling


Digital storytelling refers to the blending of traditional storytelling (an oral practice) with visual texts that are created using computers.  Digital stories, then, are modern, multimedia texts that are comprised of narrated slide presentations or videos on specific topics that range from personal tales to historical events to social causes. 

All digital stories begin as original written texts on a topic; the texts eventually become the narration of the digital story.  These texts, the written narrations, contain a narrowed focus and are often researched.  The narration for digital stories follow many of the same rules of good, sound essay writing.  You need an introduction that introduces your topic and provides background information.  You need transition between ideas, and you need a conclusion that leaves your audience with a final, lasting impression.  That said, thesis statements in digital stories are often implied or delayed until the end of the piece instead of being stated explicitly at the beginning. 

The narration is accompanied by visual images that relate (either concretely or abstractly) to the topic and focus of the digital story.  Generally, still images are imported into movie-making software programs, but  video clips can also used, as you will see from the example linked here

Digital stories also have soundtracks.  The music clips are used to support the focus and to create pathos.


For this class project, you are to create a 5-6 minute digital story on a focused topic of your choice.  Your topic can be autobiographical or biographical; it can be historical or it can be socio-political.  Some of you wrote on topics previously that would very easily lend themselves to the digital story genre.  If you do research (even if that research consists merely of interviews with family members), you must include a works cited at the end of your digital story.  Within your narration, you should use signal phrases so the audience knows which ideas are yours and which are examples from other sources. 

We have access to Windows Movie Maker in the classroom, and I will be showing you how to use it during class.  Beyond Movie Maker, iMovie for the Mac and Microsoft PhotoStory for PCs are also great tools if you have access to them.

Due Dates

Conferences will take place the week before Thanksgiving, November 14-16.  At the very least, you need to have a transcript of your written narration ready for peer review.  This should be submitted to Google Docs and shared with your peer group members and me by 8 pm Sunday, Nov. 13.  If you are ready, you can bring to conference your digital story in whatever state it is.  We will watch it and give you feedback.

This project will be due Monday, November 28.  You will upload your digital story to our class JMUtube account.


In evaluating your project, I will be looking for a digital story that is tightly focused, that is relatable to an audience beyond the creator, that makes effective use of visual and audio elements, and that meets requirements for time.    


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