Open Thinking Wiki

Various Resources compiled by Dr. Alec Couros

Digital Storytelling


  • "... refers to using new digital tools to help ordinary people to tell their own real-life stories." (Wikipedia)
  • “Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen.” (Leslie Rule, Digital Storytelling Association)

Why (Digital) Storytelling?

  • Storytelling is the expression of common cultural artefacts shared by individuals & societies with roots extending to the emergence of prehistoric humans.
  • Stories help us make sense of ourselves, our cultures and societies, in rich and meaningful ways.
  • Storytelling may give voice to individuals and groups who have been oppressed by a culture of literary dominance.
  • Stories will help us leave a rich legacy of expression for future generations.
  • Storytelling helps us reclaim our narratives from corporate and commercial interests.
  • Stories and the process of storytelling can be used as a rich means of assessment.
  • Storytelling proves to be an engaging alternative for many learners.

Is Digital Different?

  • Digital stories are inherently easy to replicate and share.
  • Digital stories are not constrained to text, but can make use of imagery, audio, video, and social affordances available in the medium.
  • Digital storytelling can foster innovation and creativity as there are unlimited genres & forms available for expression.

Important Resources:


Media Resources:

  • Creative Commons: An important site licensing your work under copyleft licenses, and finding other copyleft licensed work.
  • Flickr Creative Commons: Flickr is the largest photo-sharing site on the Internet. Many of the photos are shared via copyleft licenses, and this link will take you directly to this space.
  • morguefile: The site contains high-resolution stock photography images free for either corporate or private use
  • compfight: An excellent Flickr search tool.
  • Excellent place to find classic, public domain audio files and video footage.
  • ccMixter: A community music site with files that you can sample, remix, or mash-up.
  • JamStudio: "The online music factory".
  • SoundSnap: High quality sound effects, some free per month, but you need an account for unlimited downloads. There are educator's accounts.
  • WGBH Sandbox: A collection of high quality clips that are available under a Creative Commons license.
  • The Open Video Project: A shared digital video collection.
  • Finding Media for Your Story: A comprehensive list of media resources compiled by Alan Levine.

Examples of Digital Stories:

Digital stories take a number of forms, and I am very liberal with the interpretation of what is considered a digital story. I believe that inspiration can be found from a number of digital story types and formats. Here are a few to consider below.

Commercials & Commentaries:


Stop Motion & Other Innovative Techniques:

  • Neighbours: This is a classic in the genre, a film from 1952 from Norman McLaren. The stop-motion technique used here is known as Pixilation. More about the film here.
  • Tony vs. Paul: Excellent example of a stop motion video. Long, but gives many good ideas.
  • Sorry I'm Late: Innovative film which includes a 'making of' section for ideas and processes.
  • Bathtub IV: This is a wonderful music video featuring tilt/shift photography. In other words, these are real scenes videoed in a way that make them look as if the objects are fake miniatures.
  • Last Day Dream: This is a powerful short video that signifies an individual's life in 42 seconds. (Language/content warning)
  • Her Morning Elegance: This is a brilliant stop motion video. It is soft, smooth, and romantic, and accompanies the soundtrack beautifully.
  • The PEN Story: This a beautiful, nostalgic stop motion video celebrating the Olympus PEN series of cameras. Two things strike me here. First, we are beginning to see an increase by advertisers as they push the boundaries of marketing through the creation of emotional, artistic productions. Second, the video reminds me of how much influence the camera has on our society, and how it ultimately frames our messages and our memories.
  • The Time Machine: An Interactive Adventure: A story created using annotation linking in Youtube, similar to choose-your-own-adventure books.
  • Alison: A very personal photo essay of one's daughter.
  • Days with My Father: Haunting photo-essay about a photographer's relationship to his elderly father.
  • Mankind is No Island: A story filmed entirely with a cellphone camera.
  • Parisian Love: Story told through Google searches.

Public Service Announcements:

  • Top Chef: Ontario’s Workplace Safety Insurance Board released a number of gruesome safety ads that really pushed the boundaries of the PSA. This ad was one of the more popular (and gruesome) of the series.
  • U.N. Landmine Commercial: This startling commercial brings home the reality of landmines. It calls out for action from those with privilege with the message “If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere?”
  • Belt Up In the Back: A surprising and horrendous seat belt safety commercial from the UK.
  • Doubt: This eerie video was produced by the Israeli AIDS Task Force.
  • Children See, Children Do: This is an effective Australian PSA regarding the imitation of behaviors by children of their parents.
  • Clean House: Meth: This is an interesting (and strangely catchy) meth prevention PSA, typical of those provided by A Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Student Created Stories:

Other Resources & Stories: