Using digital story telling in workplace learning October 19, 2016 January 25, 2017 Gill Brabner



There has been a significant amount of research into digital storytelling over the past 20 years. Recent research includes using digital storytelling with marginalised young people (Alrutz 2013), as a counselling tool used with children (Sawyer et al 2011), for student engagement and developing 21st Century skills (Niemi et al 2015), to facilitate organisational learning (Militello et al 2013), to support reflective learning in medical students (Sanders 2011), and student self-efficacy in writing skills.  There are many others.

But what is digital story telling? 

Personal storytelling is a critical element when seeking to define digital storytelling.  For example: “Digital stories are hyper short, personally narrated multimedia fragments.” (Alexandra 2008), whilst for Alrutz (2013) “digital storytelling encompasses a wide range of self-produced media such as blogs and podcasts that employ story and digital technologies for personal expression.”

 Let’s think about that in the context of workplace learning…..

  1.  Personally narrated – so delegates can tell their own stories about work
  2. Hyper short – so a 1-2 minute video or audio is ideal, or a short blog post
  3. Fragments – they don’t need to be complete or finished BUT they do need to be authentic

4 Ideas for using digital story telling in your courses……with delegates using their own smart phones

  1. Ask delegates to introduce themselves to the group via a hyper-short vid or audio
  2. Ask delegates to talk about someone who has inspired them
  3. Ask delegates to interview each other, asking one question critical to the course.  If running a F2F (face to face) the background chatter creates a lively ambience for the vid or audio (and works well when capturing hyper short stories at conferences).  If your programme is entirely online put delegtes into pairs and ask them to arrange skype calls and record their interviews using audacity or audio notes
  4. Ask delegates to record sounds from their workplace, and what they mean to them. There are lots of disruptors at work and this activity can capture them perfectly, from the ping of an email or text to the sound of a kettle, to laughter from colleagues


Alexandra D., (2008) Digital storytelling as transformative practice: Critical analysis and creative expression in the representation of migration in Ireland, Journal of Media Practice, 9:2, 101-112

Alrutz M., (2013) Sites of possibility: applied theatre and digital storytelling with youth, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 18:1, 44-57, DOI: 10.1080/13569783.2012.756169

Militello M., Guajardo F., (2013) VIRTUALLY SPEAKING: HOW DIGITAL STORYTELLING CAN FACILITATE ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING Journal of Community Positive Practices, XIII(2) 2013, 80-91

Niemi H., &  Multisilta J.,  (2015): Digital storytelling promoting twenty first century skills and student engagement, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, DOI:10.1080/1475939X.2015.1074610

Sanders J., Murray C., Digital storytelling to facilitate reflective learning in medical students, MEDICAL EDUCATION 2011; 45: 648–649

Sawyer C., & Willis J., (2011) Introducing Digital Storytelling to Influence the Behavior of Children and Adolescents, Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 6:4, 274-283, DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2011.630308