Assessment 4 Part A Digital Storytelling Project Context

purple lilies Port Villa

H.A. Steele, 2015

Contexts and applications

Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds.
(Doris Lessing

Stories have provided a vehicle not only for the delivery and sharing of a societies’ history, value and knowledge, but also as a tool for teaching, instruction, and rich meaning-making (Bruner, 1991), with the capabilities of reaching diverse learners (Hall, Hull & Donohue, 2009; Kingsley, 2007). Further, digital storytelling as a social movement has been positioned to ‘…amplify the ordinary voice’ (Burgess, 2006, p.207). When we read or hear stories, we search for answers which connect with our own lives (Lambert, 2010, p.10). As instructional tools, stories also draw from various genres including, myth, fables and real-life personal accounts to deliver powerful learning and shared experiences (Andrews, Hull & Donahue, p.6).

The affordances of new technologies and the ubiquitous presence of Web 2.0 platforms and tools have provided new, innovative, delivery opportunities for sharing and collaboration, problem-based learning and interaction. Emerging technologies also extend the potential to design and deliver learning and instruction (Hall, 2012, p.97; Jonassen & Hernandez-Serrano, 2002). Specifically, new media technologies elevate the potentiality of digital narratives from the realm of entertainment to instruction and opportunities to share meaning. (Andrews, Hull & Donahue, 2009; Schank, 2010).

Intended purpose

According to James Spradley: ‘Ethnography offers us the chance to step outside of our narrow cultural backgrounds, to set aside our socially inherited ethnocentrism, if only for a brief period, and to apprehend the world from the viewpoint of other human beings who live by different meaning systems.” (preface, 1979).

The digital story Vanuatu Stories is intended to provide an example of the potential of digital narratives on a web-based platform to deliver immersive, agentic and transformative experiences (Murray, 1997; 2012) using multimedia sensitively to avoid disrupting the narrative experience. This digital story has intentionally not used audio or music in order to convey a sense of reflection and mindfulness. By presenting an ethnographic case study using photographs in a journalistic style context, the intention is to provide an example of the capabilities of a digital narrative as an instructional tool to support meaning-making and reflection.

The main characters in the story are the people, the landscape and the writer. It is through a connection with people and place that the writer also completes an inner journey and derives a richer understanding of self.


Web 2.0 has changed the way we interact on the internet and impacted also the design of training and learning experiences. As consumers of information and learning online, our practice has shifted from passive, information consumption to ‘active user engagement’ (Conole, 2013, p.5). As a consequence, teaching and assessment practices are also in transition away from the linear model of content delivery to a model that is sensitive to the need to provide tools and pathways that use technologies to design narrative-based learning activities that are non-linear and allow the reader to engage with the text and story independently of the writer.

This digital narrative is intended as an exemplar of an online story on a web-based platform for Learning Designers at Queensland University of Technology. As our division continues to build and deliver courses both award and non-award on various online platforms, this digital narrative provides an opportunity to not only engage with a specific type of instructional media, but also to evaluate the potentiality of a website, distinct form the traditional learning management system (LMS) as a delivery platform.

This digital story would be a useful artefact for Learning Designers and teachers in the subject areas of cultural studies, grief studies and mindfulness as an example of the use of digital storytelling as a vehicle to support cultural participation of the ordinary voice in the expression of grief and reconciliation. It is also an example of a personal character story as defined by Lambert (2010, p.5) which finds ‘…meaning in our relationships.’



Andrews, D. H., Hull, T. D., & Donahue, J. A. (2009). Storytelling as an Instructional Method: Definitions and Research Questions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 3(2). Available at:

Burgess, J. (2006). Hearing Ordinary Voices: Cultural Studies, Vernacular Creativity and Digital Storytelling. Continuum, 20(2), 201-214. doi:10.1080/10304310600641737.

Bruner, J. (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical Inquiry, 18(1), 1-21.

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for Learning in an Open World. New York: Springer.

Hall, T. (2012). Digital Renaissance: The Creative Potential of Narrative Technology in Education. Creative Education, 3(1), 96-100 doi:10.4236/ce3.2012.31016

Jonassen, D., Hernandez-Serrano, J. (2002). Case-based Reasoning and Instructional Design: Using Stories to Support Problem Solving. ETR&D, 50 (2), 65-77.

Kingsley, K.V. (2007). Empower Diverse learners with Educational technology and Digital Media. Intervention in School & Clinic, 43(1), 52-56.

Lambert, J. 92010). Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkley, CA: Center for Digital Storytelling

Malinoski, B. (1922). Argonauts of the Western Pacific an Account of Native Enterprise, and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Retrieved

Murray J.H. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyperspace. New York: Free Press.

Murray, J.H. (2012). Inventing the medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, Mass: MIT press.

Schank, R. (2010). Learning through storytelling, Not Documents: Knowledge management Meets AI. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved

Spradley, J.P. (1979). The Ethnographic interview. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.





Skip to toolbar