The Art of Digital Storytelling

by Mark Sharron

Richard Wagner, a German operatist and composer, aimed to transform musical drama to a “gesamtkunstwerk,” which means “total work of art”, more than a century ago. He felt that theater was the superior artform and therefore music should be in subordination to it. The flawed concept of the “total work of art” has had a huge impact on the practice of storytelling, while Wagner’s radical ideas did much to trouble many of his musical contemporaries.

Nowadays, tools of digital storytelling could become “gesamtkunstwerk” for this generation. This is true because today’s audiences have the ability to access huge amounts of highly interactive and specific content online. So you can afford to start dreaming if you’ve got a story to tell. With multimedia storytelling tools there has never been a more appropriate time to discover ways in which to improve your work.

The Concept of Digital Storytelling

Telling stories using digital media is basically the concept of digital storytelling. For instance, a high school student might want to make a digital story using simple video editing software and a video camera to discuss a major event in their own family history or even in their life. With the help of digital tools we are able to bring a vibrant and new dimension to our stories and the different ways in which audiences go through them.

Sometimes, of course, it can be difficult to know where to begin, with so many tools available. Digital storytelling can convey a mastery of a couple of creative tools on behalf of the author/creator and sense of innovation, in addition to effectively relaying your story to a wider audience.

Primary and Secondary Education’s Digital Storytelling

In educational storytelling, an excellent resource for using digital media is provided by University of Houston. The main goal of the site is to explain to teachers and students how to use digital storytelling as a tool to increase the number of educational activities. Several digital storytelling projects are being showcased by Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, such as The Reality of Television, which explores the influence of television on society and life using digital video in addition to tools and other relevant pieces of information.

Currently, The Pearson Foundation and The National Writing Project are working together to find out how digital storytelling can aid students in bettering their writing skills and literacy. The two organizations have been hosting professional development programs and workshops together in order to help communicate the digital storytelling’s educational benefits throughout the country.

Higher Education’s Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling has also been presented to have great advantages for college students in addition to its many uses for educating primary and secondary school students. With that being said a number of major universities like the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Maryland, offer extensive resources and programs for digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling promises to provide students with a richer palette for exressing their ideas, while traditional writing and reading will continue to be a major component of higher learning. Moreover, when it comes to teaching through the use of social media and video lessons, the shareability of visual content is opening up new possibilities. The Digital Storytelling Multimedia Archive is hosted by the Georgetown University’s Center for New Design and Learning Scholarship at and it offers great examples and tools to help educators and students understand the importance of digital storytelling at the college level.

Digital Storytelling for Creative Professionals and Business

Creative professionals and business are also finding ways to incorporate interactive media and data visualization into their work. Websites like Tableau Public and Prezi have appeared in response to an increased demand for user-friendly “storytelling tech” tools in order to help non-techies with necessary tools they need to exhibit data-heavy or complex ideas digitally. Websites such as these are the perfect places to start experimenting with the medium for an individual with a desire in finding out more about producing digital stories.

Authors have been turning to digital storytelling, for quite some time now, as a way to present their writing to a more tech-savvy audience. In Japan visual novels, which continue to be very popular, have proven to be a perfect way for writers to present their stories via digital mediums. As a matter of fact, in 2006 visual novels accounted for nearly 70% of Japanese PC game sales, and since then the medium’s influence internationally has been growing. Only the future can tell what sorts of new technologies this increasing demand for digitally upgraded literature will bring about.

The New Generation’s Storytelling

Without a doubt, the medium is a vital aspect of how we interpret and experience a story, and without it, a story would squander into oblivion. With that being said, the prompt evolution of digital storytelling tools and multimedia shouldn’t worry us. The same purpose is still served by today’s stories that stories always have–to inform, arouse or entertain their audiences.

Alongside technology, it’s fascinating to trace the ways in which storytelling tastes of mankind have evolved, from woodblock printing to Wagner’s “gesamtkunstwerk.” Who is to say that in the next couple of years or event hours, won’t come along a more effective storytelling medium?

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