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Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling: A meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning

Sadik, A. (2008). Digital storytelling: A meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56(4), 487-506.

The main intention of this study is to help teachers develop the nature of teaching and learning through a particular application of digital technologies that may result in a shift in technology utilization. By providing a clear picture of what and how teachers and students use digital storytelling, much can be learned to facilitate meaningful integration of the technology into Egyptian schools. In addition, the investigation aims to give a clearer picture and a better understanding of the impact on student learning when teachers and students take advantage of digital storytelling for their teaching and learning tasks.

Examining teachers’ changes in skills and behaviors, as well as their perceptions of an innovation to learning, requires a methodology that allows for individual thought and expression to be recorded and analyzed. Therefore multiple methods of data collection and analysis were employed to enhance the validity and reliability of the study. A scaling rubric instrument is used to assess students' success and level of engagement in authentic learning using digital storytelling. In addition, observation and interview are used in this study to investigate factors that influenced teachers as they implemented and integrated digital storytelling in their curricula and provide a concrete and contextual knowledge of their concerns and perceptions of the integration process.

Two private Basic Education schools in Qena were chosen for their public recognition of their use of technology and four teachers were chosen from each school. Each of the eight teachers agreed to nominate one class (35-45 students) in the Second Stage Basic Education (13-15 years old) to integrate digital storytelling into the curriculum.

Three instruments were used to assess the quality of students' stories, student level of engagement in authentic learning tasks, teachers' concerns and views towards the use of digital storytelling. These instruments are: Student Digital Story Evaluation Rubric, Integration of the Technology Observation Instrument and Interview for the Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Digital Storytelling.

The findings from the analysis of students-produced stories suggest that students were encouraged to think more deeply about the meaning of the topic or story and personalize their experience and also clarify what they knew about the topic before and during the process of developing and communicating their stories. Students learned to think and write about people, places, events and problems that characterized their individual life experiences or others' experiences.

In addition, digital storytelling provided a real way to help students learn how to use technology effectively in their learning, particularly if provided with appropriate digital resources and usable editing tools to further motivate them into creating quality stories. Developing repositories for digital learning resources and freeware that demonstrate an understanding of the existing needs of Egyptian students can help them store, access, share and reuse quality stories.

Observations and interviews revealed many aspects of the classroom environment and activities that best facilitate digital storytelling integration and support engaged learning. The findings revealed that students enjoyed the use of digital cameras, searching Web resources, authoring by Photo Story and playing with other non-linear editing tools to create short stories about what they really think and later to watch them. Students demonstrated a pride in the digital stories they were accomplishing and dedicated more time to the tasks required to bring images, audio and text into a storyboard and how to sequence and link them according to their stories.

However, the findings suggest that there is a need to encourage teachers to provide students with more long-term and problem-solving opportunities to spend sufficient time working and thinking together and build their own learning communities to create and present their digital stories.