WRD 377: Digital Storytelling in the Community

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of digital storytelling, a media arts practice in which trained facilitators help individuals to create first-person video stories. In recent years, communities and organizations worldwide have used digital storytelling initiatives to start important community discussions and create powerful media for outreach and advocacy.

You will first learn the core values of digital storytelling by reading foundational texts and creating your own digital story. Then, you will develop your capacity to envision and facilitate digital storytelling in community settings, through work with one of our class’ three nonprofit partner organizations. Your service work will involve both volunteering for your assigned organization—to better understand the organization’s mission and its stories—and teaching members of its staff how to make digital stories at an on-campus training workshop hosted by our class. This service will help you to better envision how the potential of digital storytelling might be realized in specific real-world communities.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Create a polished digital story, demonstrating intermediate-level knowledge about the following processes: narrative script writing and revision; story circle facilitation; digital audio recording and editing; image sourcing and editing; and video editing.
  • Articulate the core values of digital storytelling (e.g., personal and community outcomes, ethical principles) and apply these values to real-world digital media production projects.

WRD 377 satisfies the junior-year experiential learning (JYEL) requirement for the Liberal Studies Program. As such, you are expected to devote approximately 25 hours to work with your community partner organization. The JYEL learning outcomes that you should meet in this course are as follows:

  • Apply particular concepts from readings, lectures, etc. to an analysis of lived experiences in the settings provided by the course.
  • Use the experiences provided by the course to construct and articulate the impact of your experience on your understanding of course content.
  • Use your new understanding to make decisions and solve problems related to the course, whether at the setting provided by the course, or in other assignments.


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

Dush, L. (2013). The ethical complexity of sponsored digital storytelling. International Journal of Cultural Studies 16(6), 627-640.

Higgins, L.D. & Brush, L.D. (2006). Personal experience narrative and public debate: Writing the wrongs of welfare. College Composition and Communication 57(4), 694-729.

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.

Lambert, J. (2013). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community. 4th ed. NY: Routledge.

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.

Vivienne, S. & Burgess, J. (2012). The digital storyteller’s stage: Queer everyday activists negotiating privacy and publicness. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56(3), 362-377.


  1. Short Paper on Digital Storytelling: Approximately 1200-1500-word paper that engages with our early course readings to explore the question What is digital storytelling and what is it good for?
  2. Your Digital Story: 2-4-minute video that relates a story that is important to you, in digital story form.
  3. Report on Possibilities and Challenges for Digital Storytelling Use at Your Partner Organization: 2000-2500-word report that explores the possibilities for and challenges of digital storytelling in the community by applying concepts from readings (assigned and found via library research) to an analysis of your service experiences