NMS 509/WRD 530: Digital Storytelling in Organizations (WQ 2012)

Course Description

This course is about the production and use of digital stories, short videos that feature a story-driven autobiographical voiceover and personal photographs. In recent years, organizations worldwide have used digital storytelling initiatives to create powerful stories for outreach, advocacy, fundraising, and training.

To conceive of organizational digital storytelling initiatives, you should understand both how to produce a digital story and how to teach others the production process. Accordingly, our class will operate on a “train-the-trainer” model. In such a model, you will first learn the digital storytelling process—including relevant writing, audio recording, and audio, image, and video editing techniques—by creating your own digital story. Then, you will work to develop the skills of a digital storytelling workshop facilitator, by preparing to deliver and delivering an on-campus digital storytelling workshop for community partners. This quarter, we will partner with parents and teachers from the charter school network, Chicago International Charter School.

Throughout the term, we will also examine the question of how stories can be used for social action, by reading and writing about stories and social action, discussing existing storytelling initiatives, and exploring how our community partners might use the stories produced in our workshop.


Burgess, J. (2006) Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 20(2): 201-214.

Hull, G. A., & Katz, M.-L. (2006). Crafting an agentive self: Case studies of digital storytelling. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(1), 43-81.

Faber, B.D. (2002). Community action and organizational change: Image, narrative, identity. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP.

Lambert, J. (2009). Humanizing health care: A conversation with Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner, Pilgrim Projects/Patient Voices. In Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community (3rd ed.) (pp. 143-156). Berkeley, CA: Digital Diner Press.

Lambert, J. (2009). When silence speaks: A conversation with Amy Hill. In Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community (3rd ed.) (pp. 133-141). Berkeley, CA: Digital Diner Press.

Meadows, D. & Kidd, J. (2009). ‘Capture Wales’: The BBC digital storytelling project. In Story circle: Digital storytelling around the world (pp. 91-117), Eds. J. Hartley & K. McWilliam. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Polletta, F. (2006). Why stories matter. In It was like a fever: Storytelling in protest and politics (pp. 8-28). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Selber, S.A. (2004). Multiliteracies for a digital age. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP.


  1. Short paper that answers the question What is digital storytelling and what is it good for?
  2. Your own 2-4-minute digital story.
  3. Facilitator plan, theorizing your approach and the outcomes for your facilitator tasks in our community partner workshop.
  4. Final report: analysis of two stories produced in our community partner workshop and how these stories might be used to drive social action.