Digital Storytelling

Bruner (1991) and Ricoeur (1991) suggest that our lives are governed by the stories we tell to others. Our stories are also encompassed within the wider social and cultural groups that we belong to (ibid.).

This led me to consider how digital storytelling might be facilitated within the classroom so that learners engage in meaningful learning activities that extend beyond traditional classroom practice such as the prescribed academic curriculum and the act of measuring learner progress.

Presently I am using iPads to support teaching and learning, and recently I have discovered the iMovie app that I am now using as a learning tool.

The first time I used iMovie in the classroom, learners had an iPad each, and remained in their seats whilst they typed their narratives into a preset template to create an iMovie trailer. Learners were engaged and moved onto a little filming although upon reflection, it appears that there was not much scope for creativity within this lesson.

However as a result of incorporating the iMovie app in a different way, it now appears that when learners have one iPad between them, through their social interactions, their creativity flows as they are geared towards creating something meaningful and purposeful, specifically holding value for the learners themselves. What strikes me is the imaginative dialogue that occurs as the learners have fun and create, then review and reflect upon what they have filmed.

Consequently an array of fascinating iMovie trailers have so far been created and this has led to some learners filming using the ‘create full movie’ feature within the app. Learners have created their own story lines with minimum teacher intervention, and in one such lesson, learners have remained in character for over an hour, reporting for “[The School Name] News”. The next day, a colleague of mine (who also has an iPad) was approached by the same learners who were very excited and enthusiastic, wanting to film the second part of their story.

To see the learners in action and taking control of their own learning is such a wonderful experience and reminds me why learners are also teachers, and the creators of their own knowledge and the creators of shared knowledge.

For me, this is what learning is about, learning is not always following a prescribed curriculum because learners should have the opportunity to take a participatory role in deciding what and how they learn. After all, we all naturally learn throughout our daily life experiences and interactions, therefore school-based learning should be as authentic as possible. As John Dewey (1916) once said, the school should exist as though it is not a school.


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

Bruner, J. (2004) Life as Narrative, Social Research, 71 (3), 691-710.

Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, New York: The MacMillan Company.

Ricoeur, P. (1991) Narrative Identity, Philosophy Today, 35 (1), 73-81.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Sonia Miller and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

Sonia Miller is a Computing/ICT Teacher, MSc Technology Enhanced Learning Student, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator.

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