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Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms - Feb 20 through March 11, 2020

Materials for Week 2, Feb 27-March 4 - Tools for Digital Storytelling


Digital Stories are ways that students can creatively express themselves in digital format using multimedia tools or a combination of many tools (or a single tool) to create a narrative for whatever purpose they are assigned or wish themselves to communicate. The tools involved in creating digital stories are of use to teachers wishing to set up blended and flipped learning classrooms. Here's a Wikipedia characterization, focused on uses in education: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_storytelling#Uses_in_education



Introducing Twitter


Twitter can be a reliable component to a Learning Management System. It was a successful part of the blended learning environments that I created for each place I visited in my workshops in Thailand this past January. In my workshops I introduced its use here:



The idea was to have each set of participants use a tag-of-the-day for their workshop and use that tag to aggregate any content they created online so that when the tag was searched on in a given tool, we could see at one link what had been produced by that group of participants.


Here are the twitter searches on the tags created during each of the workshops in Thailand


Latest tweets (all of them) from


How to submit links to your work on Twitter


To do the same thing for this workshop, all you have to do is tweet links to your work, and tag them #blended2020


They will then appear in this tag search 



This search gives you the LATEST tweets with the tag your are searching on. A default serch will give you only the TOP tags.

For our purposes, we want to see everyone's tweets (on our tag)


This is one of your missions during Week 2


  • You can tweet anything you like about the course, ask a question, make a suggestion or observation, or give a reflection or impression.
  • Whenever you tweet about the course in general, use the hash tag #blended2020
    • If you are notifying us of the link to your week 1 mission, your digital poster, use two hash tags: #blended2020 and #blended2020dp
    • If you are notifying us of the link to week 2 mission, your digital story, use two hash tags: #blended2020 and #blended2020ds


In this way ALL tweets about the course (containing the hash tag #blended2020 will appear under that tag

  • whereas if we are looking for links to your digital posters, we can find just those under #blended2020dp
  • and if we are looking for links to your digital stories, we can find just those under #blended2020ds


Try it, and if you are using Twitter with your students, or looking for a way to use Twitter with your students, then you will see how you might  encorporate this method into your own blended learning classrooms.


Rationale for Digital Storytelling


The focus of this course is not on digital storytelling in the classroom (with students) per se, but on employing digital storytelling tools as an option for mounting and managing components of a Blended Learning Classroom. Nevertheless it's useful to look at why students and their teachers might want to become familiar with such tools.


Smeda, N., Dakich, E. & Sharda, N. The effectiveness of digital storytelling in the classrooms: a comprehensive study. Smart Learn. Environ. 1, 6 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40561-014-0006-3. Available: https://slejournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40561-014-0006-3


There are more articles in the Digital Storytelling in the Classroom Guide, which you can download here: https://www.tech4learning.com/kits/digital-storytelling


Here are some more sites that came up when I googled Why use digital storytelling in my classroom




7 Elements of Digital Storytelling


This page explains "the" seven elements of digital storytelling, but teachers can probably get by with fewer than these



Here the seven elements are covered in a 4 minute video:



The seven elements are 

  1. Point of view - ask yourself three questions:
    1. "What is the point of the story?"
    2. "Who am I telling the story to?"
    3. "Why am telling the story now?"
  2. Dramatic question - "good stories grab and connect with you by employing a question that need to be answered"
  3. Emotional content - "We all connect to ... emotions like desire, revelation, humor, crisis, lessons learned, and redemption"
  4. voice - "Your voice is a great gift and we appreciate it when you share it"
  5. soundtrack - "Your soundtrack should complement story and not distract from it;" some tips:
    1. "avoid using vocal songs"
    2. "ask a friend to create a song"
    3. "try using garageband"
    4. and my own: explore online repositories of royalty-free digital music 
  6. pacing - "We need time to absorb and process the information we've been presented; tips
    1. "use blank space for dramatic effect by fading to black,"
    2. or "change up the pace by how long images stay on the screen" 
  7. Economy - two to four minutes; as Shakespeare wrote (in Hamlet): "Brevity is the soul of wit"


You can google Digital Storytelling Ideas


Here are some hits  ...




Examples of Digital Storytelling


Iranian short film (just over 1 min) that won an award at the Luxor Film Festival



How can you use this in class? Get your students to

  • Articulate in writing or in speaking what happens in this story; write out the moral of this story
  • Create a cartoon that depicts this story, with speech bubbles showing what the characters are saying.
  • Re-write the story from the point of view of just ONE of the characters
  • Write out a similar story; make a digital story of that version
  • Anything else? (tell us)


An example from a student NNS of English


In the plenary I gave at ThaiTESOL, https://learning2gether.net/2020/01/30/vance-stevens-plenary-at-thaitesol-on-the-what-why-and-how-of-flipped-learning-harmonizing-diversity-by-developing-skills-in-podcasting-webcasting-and-digital-storytelling/

I presented two other examples.


One is a video obviously made by a student about her mother, where she prepared a script, delivered it admirably despite some minor NNS errors, illustrates her talk in expressive imagery, and puts it all together into a video presentation, https://youtu.be/7zq1n7HVkig



A pair of videos showing process and result


The second example, actually a pair of videos, was done by someone who explains how a digital storytelling project can be conceived and implemented on a video editing platform (though such tools are not absolutely necessary), https://youtu.be/LVKeO5IIR_A - and then shows a 2-minute video where her digital story describes her learning journey in coming to grips with playing the cajón, https://youtu.be/BGsySU9iQYs



Ths first one of this pair seems to be promoting a commercial product that will allow you to storyboard and then implement your creation by arranging and editing video in the tool provided, but results appropriate to language learning (or teaching on low budgets) could be achieved through other means. The resulting video, just a minute 16 seconds, conveys a narrative in an interesting way, and as you can see the process in the first video, instructively.


Numerous tools for Digital Storytelling


You can use PowerPoint


You don't need special tools. This video explains how to use PowerPoint animations to create digital stories



You can Google and find countless tools


Here are just 7 Tools


At https://www.bookwidgets.com/blog/2018/04/learning-by-telling-stories-7-amazing-storytelling-tools-for-teachers-and-students

the seven tools are


WeVideo has a catch (two of them, actually) - Free trial for only 30 days, K-12 educator email required to qualify for that!





Ten tools recommended by Richard Byrne


At https://practicaledtech.com/2019/08/26/ten-digital-storytelling-tools-for-students-of-all-ages/

Richard Byrne introduces ten tools and includes links to his own video demos of most of them.

He also includes virtual reality and podcasting tools


The ten tools are, In addtion to Adobe Spark, Bookcreator, and WeVideo

Plus Two VR Tools

And two for podcasting

Here are another ten tools


At https://hackastory.com/10-best-free-digital-storytelling-tools-for-journalists/ 

the ten tools are

In addtion to Stellar, 9 additionally

And three from Knightlab


18 tools listed here


At https://elearningindustry.com/18-free-digital-storytelling-tools-for-teachers-and-students

there is a further breakdown of websites and apps


11 websites for digital storytelling

In addtion to Storybird


7 apps for digital storytelling

in addtion to Sock Puppets and WeVideo


30 tools with annotions copy / pasted here 


And at https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/30-sites-and-apps-for-digital-storytelling I just copy/pasted here


  • 30hands Learning - A fantastic user-friendly iOS app for creating a story by adding a narration to photos. Also, 30hands has excellent video tutorials to help users create a story.
  • Animaker Class - An excellent site with an educational portal for students to create animated stories.
  • Book Creator - A great mobile (iOS/Chrome) app that educators everywhere are using to create stunning eBooks and digital stories.
  • BoomWriter - A fantastic safe site for students (teachers create accounts - student email not required) to create digital stories/books through a collaborative process. Once a story is completed, it gets published online and an actual book can then be ordered.
  • Buncee - The world's leading digital canvas for creating digital stories and more. Best of all, is the educational portal that allows educators to track and monitor student progress and assignments.
  • Comic Life - Probably the most popular digital comic iOS app for creating comics. This is a very fun and easy to use app for telling the story by creating a customized comic.
  • Digital Films - A nice site for creating a digital animated story and then embedded into a site/blog to share it with others.
  • Imagine Forest - An innovative site where a student can create a digital story or use a story starter for brainstorming that writing process.
  • Little Bird Tales - One of the most popular sites for digital storytelling that allows students to create their own art and record their voice. Also, there is a excellent iOS app available for mobile learning.
  • Make Beliefs Comix - A nice site for creating digital comics in a number of different languages as well of lots of educational resources.
  • Motion Comics - A cool site for creating animated comics that lets users embed into a site/blog.
  • My Story - A wonderful iPad app for creating a digital book/story. All a user has to do is draw or upload a picture, add some text, and then record audio to tell a story.
  • Nawmal - A popular site for creating stunning looking animated videos with educational portal.
  • Pixntell - A simple to use iOS app for organizing iPhotos into a story then recording audio.
  • Pixton for Schools - A nice site with educational portal for creating digital comics.
  • Plotagon - An innovative site that reminds me of the now defunct Xtranormal, where are user selects a character then types up a script and Plotagon takes care of the rest.
  • Speech Journal - A nice iPad app for pairing recorded audio with a digital picture from one's iPhoto library to create a story.
  • Sock Puppets - A very fun iOS app that allows users to lip sync audio to a sock puppet, one of my kids favorites.
  • Story Creator - One of my favorite iOS apps for creating a digital story by syncing audio and photos together. Also, an option allows for highlighting of text during narration to help a student with Reading.
  • Storybird - A great site with educational portal where students create art inspired stories and then embed into a site/blog.
  • StoryJumper - A fantastic site for creating a digital story by building a story from scratch or choosing one of the story starters. A student can add objects, text, and even upload their own art too.
  • StoryKit - A simple to use iOS app for telling a story by adding text, photos, and audio.
  • Storyboard That - A wonderful site with educational portal that teachers are using in a wide variety of ways including digital storytelling.
  • Strip Designer - A iOS app similar to Comic Life for creating a digital comic.
  • Tellagami - A nice way to tell a short story by creating an avatar and then recording audio, similar to Voki.
  • ToonDoo Spaces - A great site with educational portal for students to create digital comics.
  • UtellStory - A nice place to tell a story through audio, images, and video, as well as collaborating with others.
  • VoiceThread - One of the most popular educational sites/apps for creating a interactive digital storytelling by uploading multimedia content and recording an audio narration. A finished VoiceThread can then be embedded into a site/blog.
  • WriteComics - A simple to use site for creating a digital comic to tell a story.
  • Zimmer Twins - A fun site with educational portal for creating animated movies/stories.


Leave your reviews in our discussion at Schoology


Please have a look at one of more of these tools and leave your review(s) in a discussion of them at Schoology



Your main mission for week 2 - Create a digital story


Here's the mission in fine print


By the end of this week, and with guidance from the instructor and other participants,

craft and create a digital story using some of the tools and techniques identified in Weeks 1 and 2 at these URLs



If you have questions or need help




Three sample digital stories created by the English Language Specialist



Make one like the last example here: https://flipgrid.com/3ee9594a

(see next section) 


Create a digital story in 3 or 4 minutes on Flipgrid


At a loss? (or just don't have time)?

Record your digital story here (in 3 or 4 minutes)


Visit this link



psst ... the password is blended2020


  1. Log in with Google or Microsoft
  2. Allow the widget to use your mic and webcam


Detailed instructions on how to do this



That's how you start. Click on the video icon to record, monitor your timer to see how much longer you have,

and don't stop till you reach this point:



And when you've done it ...



If you can't work it out get your students to explain it to you, or just ask us :-)




Participant examples on Flipgrid



And you can click on our Twitter search on #blended2020 to find links to this and other content created by participants here




These materials were created by Vance Stevenshttps://learning2gether.net 

for presentation at  ELSpecialist workshops and ThaiTESOL in Thailand in January, 2020

You are free to share-alike and with attribution under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

The date of this update is March 4, 2020


Comments (8)

nour-eddie Laouni said

at 7:01 pm on Feb 26, 2020

Thank yo so much for this long list of digital story telling. I'm interested to know about their pedagogical uses in classes. Are there any documents to read or links to visit in this respect? If you could help with just some of the tools and their pedagogical applicability in classrooms, that would help so much.
Thank you so much for your help and support
My Regards
Nour-eddine laouni

Vance Stevens said

at 7:27 pm on Feb 26, 2020

Hi Nour-eddine, I googled 'Why use Digital Storytelling' and found this article
Smeda, N., Dakich, E. & Sharda, N. The effectiveness of digital storytelling in the classrooms: a comprehensive study. Smart Learn. Environ. 1, 6 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40561-014-0006-3
You can download a pdf here: https://slejournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40561-014-0006-3. I hope it helps, now it's your turn, what have you found that helps you to answer your question? Maybe next I'll try Googling research into DST - Thanks for posting here.

nour-eddie Laouni said

at 7:21 pm on Feb 27, 2020

Thank you professor Vance for your help and support.
In fact all the tools are very interesting , and it seems hard to choose. I'll do all my best to try them all this week and stop at some tools that I'll find practical , easy and performing well in students' learning. Thank you so so so much Professor.
Nour-eddine Loauni

nour-eddie Laouni said

at 7:33 pm on Feb 27, 2020

Dear Professor Vance,
I really would like to conduct a workshop for my trainees on digital story telling. The articles you shared with me are very inspiring . Any ideas or suggestions how to proceed? How would you visualize a successful workshop on digital story telling.
Thank you so much for your help and support.
Best Regards

Vance Stevens said

at 8:21 pm on Feb 27, 2020

Great Noureddine, glad you are finding this useful. We can support one another. You can report your findings either here or in Schoology (that's best for the other participants in the course) or in Yo!Teach as you have done already. Also if you would like for me to come on Zoom and speak to your students, that could be arranged. Just let me know what I can do for you. Once a webhead always a webhead :-) http://webheads.info

nour-eddie Laouni said

at 7:01 am on Feb 28, 2020

Thank you so much Professor Vance.
next week all my trainees will be in the second practicum. I'll be so much honored having you in an online session . I'll let you know when it is possible.
Thank you so much for all your efforts. You are doing a great job. I learnt a lot rom you
Best Regards

Vance Stevens said

at 4:47 pm on Feb 29, 2020

Hi Noureddine, I have sent you an email. Please check and reply in email. Hopefully we can arrange what you suggest.

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