Course Syllabus

Digital Storytelling

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Complete Syllabus

Most of the text we consume today comes to us through a screen, and since anyone with an internet connection can share their stories, digital technology has made storytelling more accessible and more global than ever before. Through digital storytelling, you can invite readers to interact and experiment with your stories, rearrange or find your own path through the fragments of an essay, even “play” your first-person experiences.

This beginner’s course is designed to help you discover ways to use digital communication technologies to enhance the inherent connective power of creative nonfiction—and will explore what changes and what stays the same, when you move stories from pure text to an interactive, multimedia environment, incorporating still images, sound, and/or video (and even video games).

Learn how to create digital narratives through a combination of reading, viewing, and playing. This course provides plenty of opportunity for hands-on practice capturing and editing your own image, audio, and video stories, and using digital communication technologies to enhance (rather than distract from) the inherent connective power of creative nonfiction.

How it works:

Each week provides:

  • writing prompts and/or assignments
  • discussions of readings and other general topics with peers and the instructor
  • lectures and instruction

Some weeks also include:

  • opportunities to submit writing, image, sound, and video mini-stories for instructor and peer critique

To create a better classroom experience for all, you are required to participate weekly to receive instructor feedback on your work.

Technical requirements: You will need access to a digital camera and basic image-editing software, an audio recorder and sound editor, and a digital video recorder and video editor. Any smartphone or tablet will do the trick, as will any computer outfitted with a camera and microphone. Resources for apps to use and tech tutorials will be made available on the course site.

Week 1: Storytelling in a Digital Age

This week, you will explore the fundamentals of good storytelling, alongside the ways in which digital communication technologies are changing the nature of narrative. You’ll discuss how to make best use of digital media to make your stories even more engaging, interactive, and to invite greater reader participation and collaboration.

Week 2: Every Picture Tells a Story

In our case, the old cliche holds true: you will spend this week discussing how to tell stories using primarily images, including photographs, comics, graphics, and more. You will be given several prompts and image adaptations to choose from, and will hand in a short image story for peer and instructor response.

Week 3: Scripting Your Story

Even digital stories must still have a strong narrative at their center. This week will be devoted to writing the script for your digital story, including strategies for how to write brief, compelling essays; and adapting excerpts of existing pieces for digital world. You’ll be given several exercises and will hand in an audio recording of your nonfiction script for peer and instructor response.

Week 4: Listen Carefully

This week, you will take up the challenge of using sounds to capture your listeners’ imaginations. You’ll study the various effects of dialogue, sound effects, ambient noise, and music as supplements to your voiceover narration. You will be given several prompts to help refine your choices, and will hand in a layered audio story for peer and instructor response.

Week 5: The Silver Screen

Now that you’ve explored images and sound in isolation, you’ll combine those media to create video stories. You will discuss framing and sequencing individual shots, and movement within and between frames to bring your video stories to life. You will have until the end of the class to complete a fully-edited video story that builds from your previous weeks’ exercises for instructor response.