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Durham Digital Storytelling Projects


Digital Storytelling Project Concept

Once upon a time in Durham

The digital storytelling projects and workshops in Durham have been initiated by Dr Teti Dragas having seen the potential of this form within the HE context, and specifically at Durham where this had as yet not been employed. Teti has had 20 years’ experience and practice as an educator and researcher working in interdisciplinary fields – mainly in literature, creative writing, and teacher education – and had begun to explore ‘story’ in the context of pedagogic practice drawing from her research in storytelling and pedagogy. She had the opportunity to take a short Digital Storytelling course led by Jisc and then initiated and led the first project with Dr Alistair Brown in English Studies, focusing specifically on gearing this towards a specific disciplinary context.

Though DS finds it roots traditionally in performance art (Lambert 2013), it has been most commonly used within health practice, community and social justice work. Its application in education and in particular higher education has tended to be aimed at areas which relate to the above applications and has not had a wide reach. However, recent research and case studies that have employed it are testimony to the enormous power and potential this practice can have in supporting knowledge and understanding of both subject and the individual working within it (Jamissen et al 2017). Teti’s work with DS and the projects and collaborators she is working with in Durham have the primary aim of building on this research within the HE context. The work is important in two key ways:

  1. in its aim to explore the affordances DS may bring when geared specifically towards particular disciplines and academic cultures
  2. it is innovative in this focus and novel as a practice in Durham (and potentially beyond).


This primary aim of this work is to focus on ways in to better understand the pedagogic value of digital storytelling (DS) in the HE environment and specifically in how it might support discipline-specific learning objectives. Broadly, these can be divided into four key interrelated foci:

  • the potential of Ds to serve employability agenda for students – in both practical and personal ways: e.g. in terms of supporting skills development; discovering new avenues of interest through personal biography)
  • the nature, value and use of DS to promote digital skills development: e.g. applicable to careers (in particular to relevant careers related to disciplinary field i.e. English -in creative industries; Archaeology – in museums as conservators and curators) and more specifically to transferable skills linked to the discipline and beyond
  • the potential of DS as a reflective, experiential learning tool: e.g. enabling resilience-building, metacognitive awareness of learning, enhancing learning community by enabling reflection with peers, personal meaning-making and transformation
  • whether Ds could be an effective (summative/formative) assessment tool, especially for project-based work that is linked to disciplinary knowledge bases, understanding, identity and future careers

Following the pilot project in English Studies and with Dr Alistair Brown, Teti gained another key collaborator (Dr Emily Williams) and context (MA in Archaeological and Museum Artefacts) and put in for a £5k DCAD Collaborative Innovation Grant. The grant will fund an initial scholarship project work with these two different departments over 2020-2021– English Studies and Archaeology – and run three separate workshops that are specifically designed to support learning and teaching agendas tailored to the particular concerns of the discipline and participants.

More information on these and other contexts where DS has been employed in Durham can be found in the menu links above.