Digital Storytelling - A Labor of Love

During the past 3 weeks, I have been guiding faculty participation the VCU CTE Digital Storytelling Program. This has been a labor of love. Interest in the program is high and the participants are fully engaged, with a second contingency tentatively scheduled in a few weeks. Little did I know that I would be inspired to transform my own reflections on our sessions into a serial production of digital stories, but the feeling has been so strong, that I had to create these stories. I hope that my response and actions might serve as a model for the participants and others who are interested in exploring the creation and use of digital storytelling in education.

Thanks to Terry Carter for providing initial feedback to the program and stories on her blog, Comming About: Learning About Digital Storytelling.

Guiding You is the title of the first story, which is my reflection on week 1, and that is exactly what I hope I am doing. Guiding is the act of leading, sharing information and learning with others as we correct our own course and make new discoveries.

Guiding You (week 1)

Story Circle (week 2)

Storyboard (week 3)


  1. Bud, these are wonderful examples of reflective practice and modeling behavior. Thanks for sharing them.

    Just curious--how long did it take you to do one of these and did you feel like the process added to your learning about what you were doing, as compared to just writing your reflections?

  2. Michele,

    I'm definitely learning and refining my practice as I go. I'm showing warts and all as an attempt to share my experience with the faculty. Each story has taken about 10 hours to write and produce. The later one took less time, as it dealt with images from the session. The first 2 required about 4-5 hours of image research, which I find to be the most time consuming part of the process.


  3. Hello, Bud and Michelle,

    As Bud knows, I'm one of the participants in this digital storytelling workshop currently underway. It has been a most interesting process, albeit a great deal more time consuming than I realized. I'm finding your exchange of comments about time to be interesting.

    My guess is that I've already put at least 25 hours into the project, what with search time on flickr, jamendo, and other sites looking for music and photos. Another good chunk of time went into constructing my story, which I've massaged over time, and then there is the 2 hours each week for what will ultimately be five weeks for the digital storytelling workshop.

    I'm doing this not only because I was interested in digital storytelling, but because I want to engage my graduate student learners in this form of reflective practice. I am thinking about a digital story in lieu of a final end-of-program reflective essay. I realize that I will need to be mindful of the time requirement, as this is on top of other semester work, so I will be looking for ways to scale back the process. I'm open to any ideas you might have on this, Bud.


  4. Terry,

    Right you are; this can be time consuming. Having said that, you must consider why you are telling (or requesting someone else to tell) a story. Is the outcome to have a polished video to rival Ken Burns or Steven Spielberg, or is it to engage your students in the reflection required to create a project which shares their personal experience, understanding of a subject or reflects their own learning? Once you answer that question, you can determine the approach, attention to detail, editing choices, etc. Sometimes it's a balance between what you would like to see and what is "JGE", i.e., Just Good Enough! I love this work and I tend to strive for something with aesthetic beauty. It is a creative outlet for me. But, I might not expect the same from students who may have no experience in the media and are not familiar with working in the "language" of images.

    The time you've invested (which I greatly appreciate) is typical, especially at the beginning. This is all new to you and it represents a learning curve. For example, my current productions are taking about 10 hours. In preparation for our DST Program, I produced something in the MS Photo Story editor in order to be prepared to guide participants. That took me about 40-50 hours. See

    However, that production represented getting familiar with subtle things, anticipating questions from participants, working in an emulated PC environmnet on my MacBook Pro, wrestling with audio problems as a result of this dual platform operation, etc. There were other production issues in stripping sound off video, etc.

    To get back to our program, my goal is to introduce faculty to simple, freely available tools which should enable them and their students to begin exploring the power of digital stories for educational purposes. I'm promoting the use of free resources under Creative Commons license, etc.

    So, have fun. KISS (keep it simple s...) and enjoy the process and the results.

    Today, I'll be guiding participants in the DST Program in simple production first and then exploring how to gain control over the editor and do more subtle things. I hope this will provide a clear picture that one can choose the level of production and complexity they desire.