digital storytelling - tilburg university 2012 & 2013

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MA course, offered in the framework of the MA in Communication and Information Sciences, Tilburg University, academic year 2012/2013 and 2013/2014

Digital technologies have revolutionized the way we imagine, plan, and tell stories. Citizens, advocates, activists, teachers, marketing specialists and journalists increasingly adopt a array of digital tools that allow people with limited expertise to combine on the same platform audio and video files with texts. Journalists, in particular, are expected to engage with a variety of digital platforms and devices in developing a story able to involve their audiences.

Digital storytelling describes the processes through which ordinary people and non-experts use digital tools in order to engage in creative self-expression and the creation of narratives for a variety of purposes.

The course will address a number of questions, such as: How is journalistic storytelling changing in the digital age? How can we promote an engaging narrative of social change? How can we help our audience to take active part in the story we intend to tell? We will address the connection between digital storytelling and the fields of journalism, teaching and learning, policymaking and citizen participation, marketing, and advocacy and activism.

Course objectives and learning outcomes

A digital story is a narrative that takes advantage of digital tools and platforms such as blogging and social networking sites. Digital storytelling indicates the shaping of the story as well as the sharing of it with others.

In this course students will be introduced to the emerging narrative genre of digital storytelling. They will familiarize themselves with a wide array of digital tools and techniques specific to the web environment in order to learn to plan and carry out engaging narratives on the web. The course is both an exploration of the ever-changing new media environment and the related digital cultures, and a critical interrogation of the digital mediascape we inhabit. Students are expected to actively engage with the tools and techniques learnt in class, and practice skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression.

Students will familiarize themselves with the nature, methods, and practices of digital storytelling. They learn how to plan, research, carry out, and share a digital storytelling project for a variety of purposes, including digital journalism, advocacy and campaigning, creating writing, self-representation, and marketing. By the end of the course, students will

  • Familiarize with the most up-to-date academic thinking about digital storytelling across a variety of disciplinary fields including media studies, political theory, and the study of digital cultures.
  • Interpret the process of digital storytelling, and distinguish the seven phases of a digital story.
  • Evaluate the role of the audience in a digital storytelling project, and plan the story accordingly.
  • Carry out a political economy analysis of digital storytelling platforms and dynamics, focusing on Internet governance, terms of service, issues of copyright, privacy, and ownership.
  • Familiarize with the strategies of digital narration, including culture jamming, remixing, data visualization and infographics, and mashups.
  • Plan, research, carry out, and share a digital storytelling project.
  • Deploy digital storytelling techniques for a variety of purposes, including digital journalism, advocacy and campaigning, creating writing, self-representation, and marketing.
  • Distinguish, locate, and use “natively digital object” such as hyperlinks, tags, tweets.
  • Engage in creative writing.

This is achieved via:

  • hands-on in-class exercises and case studies (ungraded),
  • hands-on assignments, to be completed individually at home (graded),
  • final digital storytelling project plan where students, in groups of three, have the opportunity to apply their digital storytelling skills in planning for a digital story (graded).

Students will benefit most from the course if they have some familiarity with social media platforms and software for online publishing, audio and video editing, and data visualization, and are willing to engage with interdisciplinary literature and approaches.