TCC09: Digital Storytelling in a Web 2.0 World

The Storyteller Tree
The Storyteller Tree

Liveblogged notes from the TCC online conference. My comments in italics.


  • Chareen Snelson, Boise State University
  • Annie Sheffield, Boise State University


Digital storytelling has arisen as a form of narrative expression that is crafted into a media production. While there appears to be general agreement that digital storytelling integrates meaningful stories with media, and characteristics of digital stories have been described, the definition of and purpose for digital storytelling remains somewhat open to interpretation. Even more unclear is how the growing array of interactive Web 2.0 video-sharing technologies are being used to facilitate digital storytelling. This paper presents a pilot study conducted to begin learning how digital storytelling is manifesting on YouTube, which is currently the most widely used of all video-sharing services. A relevance sample of 100 digital stories was obtained from YouTube. The videos were analyzed to determine how closely they match published characteristics of digital stories and to what extent interactive features of YouTube were utilized. Results indicated variation among the stories in terms of adherence to the classic model and the media elements used. Interactive tools such as ratings, comments, and video responses were used, but not extensively.

The two presenters have never met in person–one in Idaho, one in Bern, Switzerland. Their first real-time conversation was last weekend preparing for this conference; they’ve done all their research collaboration asynchronously.

Chareen is an online educator–was wondering if she is missing some human element


  • Background on Digital Storytelling
    • Perspectives
    • Classic Digital Storytelling it’s old enough for there to be a classic form?
    • Types
    • Video sharing & storytelling
  • The Pilot Study

What is digital storytelling?

  • Hard to define
  • Narrative using digital tools

Various perspectives

  • Personal narrative
  • Tool for language arts
  • Personal portfolios (a portfolio is a story of a student’s learning) love this image of portfolios
  • Deep learning assessment

What about Web 2.0?

  • Will video sharing change digital storytelling?
  • Web 2.0 allows all the stories to collect–but is it happening yet

Overall Goal: Gain awareness of how digital storytelling is actually happening right now on interactive video sharing site (YouTube)

The way we’ve been doing it tends to be the way we keep doing it until something forces us to change. So true–in a lot more than storytelling

Classic Digital Story

  • Image with a first person narrative
  • Images are powerful for conveying emotion
  • Personal narrative–tell the story behind the image
  • Sometimes add music b/c it sets mood, gets emotional effect

Great examples of pictures that spark stories–thank you for using great CC photos; such a nice change from bullet points in other presentations

Center for Digital Storytelling

Example of a classic digital story: Momnotmom

Types of digital stories from the digital storytelling cookbook

  • Character story: about someone important to our lives
  • Memorial story: those we love and remember, mourn
  • Adventure story: first trip away from home, special school trip, adventure of a lifetime
  • Accomplishment story: first to graduate college, lifetime goals
  • A place in my life:  family outing
  • What I do: job that you love, building something yourself
  • Recovery story: overcoming life challenge, witnessing miracles
  • Love story: falling in love for the first time
  • Discovery story: learning or uncovering information, message in a bottle, learning life comes in many forms

Sharing Digital Stories

  • One problem before was addins–about half of the people in this session couldn’t see Momnotmom b/c it requires Quicktime
  • Youtube should make this easier
  • Web 2.0 lets you share locally and at a distance
  • YouTube is the biggest–center of video sharing
  • TeacherTube common for education

They studied YouTube not b/c it’s the only place, but b/c it’s the “mother ship”

Digital Stories on YouTube

  • Example: Karen’s Digital Story
  • Options for interacting with video
    • Ratings
    • Share
    • Video responses
    • Comments
  • Most recommend 3 minutes; almost always >10 min

Research looks at whether stories on YouTube share the characteristics of classic digital stories.

Content analysis with a coding system for characteristics

Categories for content analysis

  • Attributes (story type, perspective, topic)–each subdivided
  • Media (media elements, duration)
  • Interativity (comments, ratings, video responses, # of views)


  • Hard to get a truly random sample
  • Got a relevance sample instead
  • Used the exact phrase “digital story” and limited to English and education as search
  • Limited by search capabilities

Collecting and analyze data

  • Frequency count for each category
  • They added categories to what they originally planned from the digital storytelling cookbook

How closely did digital stories on YouTube align with the classic model?

  • 55% matched classic model for types
  • 45% were not classic types
  • Only 17 of 100 were a perfect match for those (image sequence, 1st person narrative)

How are interactive tools used?

  • Comments and ratings more common
  • No video responses to their sample, so that isn’t a highly used feature so there isn’t a great community of sharing and responding to stories


  • Classic attributes are there but not universal. Do we need a bigget taxonomy?
  • Lots of variations in story type and media
  • Many were class projects
  • Although it’s possible to have a community around stories with tools in YouTube, that isn’t happening now

Part of this seems to be that the definition of  digital stories is emerging. However we define it needs to be flexible enough to allow for different forms and tools.

Math with stories: Give a context and real world connection

Next steps? They are interested in using digital storytelling within eportfolios. This would be very cool research

They are also working on more research on self-disclosure on YouTube (specifically people posting themselves drunk)

Image: ‘The Storyteller Tree

3 thoughts on “TCC09: Digital Storytelling in a Web 2.0 World”

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