FAQs - Digital Story Workshops

What is a digital story?


Digital Storytelling is a creative tool which uses digital technology to incorporate a repertoire of artistry and innovation, to convey a personal narrative.

Using images, photographs, drawings, sculpture, collage – anything really that can be scanned or photographed into a computer – these are combined with a script and assembled into a story. The script is usually narrated by the storytellers themselves making each story a unique and personal autobiography. Sometimes music, dance and short ‘acting’ passages can also be added to give more impact to a story. A digital story traditionally is only 2-3 minutes long, roughly the same time as a TV advertisement.


Where do the stories come from?


When someone looks back on their life they do so by means of a kind of mental scrapbook.This mental scrapbook holds a lifetime of memories and contains the myriad of experiences and emotions which have moulded and shaped them as individuals. Digital stories are pages from the scrapbook of a person’s life which can be shared in a very unique way.

Unlike traditional storytelling, digital stories reflect very personal experiences because they are written by the person telling the story and in most cases are narrated by them as well. When personal photographs and memorabilia are included the effect is indeed very powerful. But Digital stories are not age specific; they transcend generational boundaries because the process is very flexible and offers an equal platform for everyone to participate.


What kind of stories are they?


Stories are deeply personal and reflect personal views, cultural influences and historical experience. Sometimes funny, sad or quirky they are a mirror of life today and also a reflection of the past. Stories reflect the things we care about, what is important to us. Digital Stories reflect events which moulded and changed our lives - challenges and decisions which may have led to us choosing different paths than those we would normally have chosen, and have impacted not only on ourselves but on our families and friends.

The most important thing to remember is that through the whole process the storyteller is in complete control – they are in the driving seat and make all the decisions. My job as a facilitator is to help draw out the stories in the first place and advise and help along the way so that participants end up with a story they will be proud of.These are not meant to be documentaries and their appeal lies in the fact that they are real stories about real people told in their own words.


How does Digital Storytelling promote community cohesion?


Digital Stories have the potential to move other people, to challenge the way in which people see each other and, can be used as a valuable tool to bring better understanding within the community, particularly between different generations. Digital storytelling provides individuals with a platform not only for personal recollection and reflection, but also as a means to share information. Stories also help us to communicate and understand each other and share knowledge and customs.

In education personal stories from older people help children to understand events of the past in a way which brings history alive for them. Whilst the childrens' stories reflect on what life is like for them and the difficulties they face in the 21st century. The process itself helps to break down barriers, promotes community cohesion and breaks down stereotypical misunderstandings.




On a personal level, the digital storytelling process helps participants to develop relationships, increases verbal interaction and provides the time to talk and to listen to others.It also helps to build confidence, participants have something to share and this gives a feeling of self esteem and self worth. Workshops can help surmount disability, language, literacy, social and economic difficulties and provide camaraderie, focus and a sense of pride.

Digital Storytelling also increases participation in the arts and new technology, and provides participants with the vital skills which are important in today’s technologically driven society. These skills could lead to future employment opportunities.


How it works


Each project is different and can be tailored towards your specific needs.

  • Workshops can be designed around a particular theme or as part of a wider initiative so that you can focus on a particular need or aims.
  • Workshops can be intensive on a one to one basis, group projects covering a 5/6 day period, or they can be staggered over a number of weeks or months.

They can take place practically anywhere - the Bryngwyn Primary School project took place at the school over a 12 week period whilst the Charter Housing involved children and adults meeting at a sheltered housing complex over a 10 week period.


The Process


Except for one to one projects, we normally start with a story circle. This is a very important part of the process and is the 'birthing place' where stories are 'teased out' and scripts developed. Once the script is finalised the participants go on to record their stories and the recordings are then transfered to the laptops. Participants who already have images can scan these in, enhance, crop and restore them if necessary or artwork can be developed ready to be added to the story. Special effects can be applied, the images and narration are synchronised and the story is complete.




I use PC laptops running software which either comes free with Microsoft Windows or is freely available from Microsoft, and the laptops all have wide 17 inch screens to aid vision. The laptops enable me to go into a variety of venues to carry out projects but I also like to make use of clients own computer equipment whenever this is possible so that they become confident to use the equipment again.

I use PCs rather than Apple MACs, which is the industry standard, because I am passionate about encouraging people who participate in the workshops to go on and make stories by themselves after the workshops are completed. This provides them not only with a platform for personal reflection but also as a means to share information, to communicate and understand one another.



Skills Learned


Technically, participants learn how to use input devices like scanners and cameras and image enhancing software to produce photographic effects. They will quickly see the possibilties to restore and manipulate precious family photographs; and by combining art and new media in a relaxed and fun atmosphere anyone with a fear of new media will begin to see the potential for their use in their everyday lives.


A Final Note


Digital storytelling can be used as a very powerful aid in enhancing community cohesion and regeneration - particularly between generations. It is a method of giving people a voice, tackling social and cultural issues, retaining cultural and historical identity, breaking down stereotypical barriers, lobbying and to as an aid to building relationships between organisations and the people who use their services. But it is also a creative tool which will appeal to the artist within all of us, the writer, the poet, the photographer, the musician, the dancer..... the list is endless.