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Salem State University

Digital Storytelling Summer Institute, July 16-20, 8:30-4:30

Special Topics in Writing (Eng 833)

Meeting location: Meier Hall 101A


Course Description

Stories have bound people together throughout history.  Family, friends, students, community members - all have stories they want to tell. In this one-week institute, participants will learn how to create digital stories using a variety of free tools, how to share these stories with the world, and how to help others tell their stories as well. We will study the craft of the digital story by analyzing the texts others have produced and our own digital stories. This Summer Institute is a hands-on, minds-on workshop in designing, composing, editing, and publishing digital stories, suitable for teachers, community advocates, and anyone who wants to work with people and their stories.  Participants will produce a 5-10 minute digital story and a plan for helping others to tell their stories digitally.


Course Objectives:

  • Create a digital story integrating narrative elements, video, images, sound and text as appropriate for maximum effect on the reader/viewer (see below)
  • Demonstrate the ability to find, edit and incorporate audio, video and images in a digital story
  • Demonstrate competence in major software applications in creating digital stories
  • Explain how digital stories meet the needs of your organization such as community building, language arts standards, technology standards, etc.
  • Create clear guidelines for the assessment of digital stories in your class/organization
  • Define the narrative elements of a digital story pertinent for your field of inquiry
  • Describe the contribution of still images and video to the impact of the story through montage techniques of cinematography
  • Describe the contribution of audio, i.e. narration, music and background sound, to the emotional effect of digital stories
  • Explain the manner in which narrative elements, i.e. audio, images and video, combine to produce powerful, rich media stories
  • Explain the copyright guidelines that should be followed for nonprofit, educational use of non public domain media




  • Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning and creativity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Other short reading will be made available on our course web site



Typical Day

We will begin each day promptly at 8:30 AM in Meier Hall 101A: a Mac computer lab. SSU will provide refreshments around 10:30 and 3:00 each day.  Lunch will be on your own from 12:00-1:00.  I can provide suggestions.


The day will be divided into hands-on tutorials, group brainstorming sessions, and supported work time. Supported work time gives you a chance to work on your projects with immediate assistance available.  Some reading and small assignments will be given each night to prepare for the next day.  Assignments will depend on how much we cover during the day.  I will try to keep homework light to give you a break. See website for detailed outline of each day


Communication, Advice, Assistance

I will be available before and after class for assistance and strongly suggest that you start work on your final projects immediately after the institute while you are still excited and your newfound skills are still fresh in your mind.  Contact me after the institute at the times and numbers listed below. 


Rick Branscomb
Professor of English

Video office hours via Skype (rickbransc) as arranged


Course  Requirements


Digital storytelling is both hands-on and community based.  You will find that we cover a lot of the theory and implementation discussions while involved in tutorials and brainstorming sessions.  You will also find that each session builds on previous sessions.  In short it is not only to your benefit, but it is required that you attend all sessions Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30.  Please see us ahead of time if an illness or unavoidable situation occurs that necessitates a brief absence.  Instructors may ask that you drop the course if extended absence causes disruption for other students.   



1)   Each participant will complete a 5-10 minute digital story incorporating images, audio, narration and possibly video according to the principles described in the institute.  The final project is due 11:59 PM August 18.  A description/rubric of the final project will be distributed during the institute.

2)   All participants will write a 3-5 page paper describing a lesson plan or project to incorporate digital storytelling in their classroom, institute or organization.  Papers should include the following elements:

  1. a.     Goals and objectives- what do you hope to accomplish by implementing digital stories and why will they be better than the current method they are replacing?
  2. b.     Steps for implementation
    1. Storytelling- How will you introduce/educate participants to create the type of story you desire?
    2. Technology- How will you introduce/educate participants to use the technology? How will technology be made available to them?
    3. Media- How will participants gather and edit the required media?
    4. Assistance- How will assistance be provided? 
  3. c.      Evaluation/assessment- How will you know if your project is successful?  How will you know if it had the impact that you had hoped for among your students or the community?  Provide a rubric/description of concrete measures.



  • Attendance and participation 40%
  • Project 30%
  • Paper 30%



Salem State College is committed to providing equal access to the educational experience for all students in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and to providing all reasonable academic accommodations, aids, and adjustments.  Any student who has a documented disability requiring an accommodation, aid, or adjustment should speak with the instructor immediately.  Students with Disabilities who have not previously done so should provide documentation to and schedule an appointment with the Office of Students with Disabilities and obtain appropriate services.



Don’t submit someone else’s work as your own.  If you copy anything from anywhere, you must cite the source!  If you use someone else’s idea, you must cite the source.  Only facts, figures and common knowledge need not be cited in an academic paper.  See the resources section of the course website for references on how to cite properly.  If I believe you have copied from a source without citing it, or you have turned in someone else’s work as your own, you will, in the very least, receive an F for that assignment.  Depending on the type and size of the infraction I reserve the right to flunk you for the course and report you to the office of Academic Affairs.   





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