Digital Storytelling Offers a Powerful Tool for Reflection

In January, twenty faculty and staff from around UCF attended a three-day workshop on digital storytelling. Organized by Lisa C. Peterson, Associate Instructor in the School of Visual Arts and Design, the workshop brought internationally recognized experts in digital storytelling from StoryCenter to train participants to create their own digital stories: short videos about a significant event or memory. Workshop participants will now be able to teach digital storytelling as a powerful tool for reflection to their own students.

As Peterson explains, “Better skills in writing and research, visual literacy, critical thinking, collaboration, and self-knowledge are just a few of the benefits of using digital storytelling in the classroom.” The process of constructing an artifact like a digital story enables the creator not only to reflect deeply on their experiences, and understand how and why those experiences matter to them, but to learn to connect to and communicate effectively with others—skills that are invaluable in all sorts of situations, from job interviews and grad school applications to first dates.

Digital storytelling can also transform the classroom experience. Peterson describes how she used her own digital story, The Quilt, as a model for her students:  “The student-professor relationship is often just one way. It’s always the student who is creating and making him or herself vulnerable to criticism. When I show my film in class, they see that I am willing to share of myself as an individual and not just as the prof.  Students learn that I am committed to providing a safe place for them to share their ideas and thoughts. They are willing to be vulnerable. They feel more courageous in creating their own digital stories.”