Digital Storytelling: Making Research Compelling

The purpose of this activity is to think deeply about how the affordances of technology may be used to make your research interests compelling to others. Inspired by the “This I Believe” series with a few twists – instead of telling others what you believe, you tell others what you want to know more about, instead of using audio, you will use the full range of digital media.

Specifically, your assignment is to combine the art of storytelling with the affordances of multimedia technologies in order to make your research interests compelling to others. What do we mean by ‘compelling’? Your goal is to communicate your research interests in a way that affects others cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. You want your story to excite others and, perhaps, even inspire.


The links below provide a few examples of compelling digital stories. Please note these examples are not about research interests per se, and in some cases they represent work completed by small groups of students rather than individuals. Given these caveats, we think you will agree that the projects do an excellent job illustrating the power of the digital storytelling medium.

Content Requirements

  • Explain (a) what your research interests, (b) why they interest you, and (c) why they’re important.
  • At a minimum, your project should include images and sound.
  • Make a title slide and a credit slide. All references for images and/or sound should be cited on the credit slide.
  • Your project should be “well produced” – e.g., if music is added, it should be added for effect, tone, or mood and thereby add to the experience rather than distract the listener.
  • Your story should be between 3-5 minutes in length. Under no circumstances whatsoever will we keep watching past 5 minutes!

Turning in your Work

Turn in your work here.


The rubric for this assignment is available here.

Timing and Deadlines

Days of the week refer to the week the project is assigned (see schedule):

  • By Wed night: Review background information about digital storytelling and choose your technologies (e.g., photography, video, iMovie, Moviemaker, Audacity, etc. At the very least, your story should include images and sound.
  • By Saturday night: Storyboard your project and plan how you will go about gathering and editing the multimedia and other information for your story.
  • By Wed night of the next week: Complete your first draft of your digital story. Your story should be no more that 3-5 minutes in length.
  • By Saturday night of next week: Finish editing your digital story and post the final, “produced” project to your website, including a brief (125 – 250 word) summary describing your experience, what you learned, etc. In your description, be sure consider the role of technology. What was technology good for? How did it influence your experience? How might your experience have been different if, say, you completed a written report of your interview instead?

The Art of Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling combines the art of storytelling with the power of multimedia technologies to create powerful – and for our purposes, educative – experiences. For more information you may want to review:

Storyboard Technology

One way to plan your project is to create a storyboard using one of the many available storyboard programs (Google search “Storyboard software”). One that we have used in the past was Celtx, with a lot of success. However, it’s changed so much since we’ve used it last, we frankly don’t know enough to tell you how to use it anymore!

Regardless, the idea is these type of tools allow you to load images into a storyboard, add text to the images to plan a scene, and then you print your storyboard. Please note that you can certainly complete this activity without fancy tools (e.g., using paper and pencil) but the program’s ability to order and annotate your images does make it much easier!