Digital Storytelling Community at Digifest

Jisc’s Digifest conference has wrapped for another year. It was as enjoyable, challenging and informative as it’s ever been.

The Community Hub area was a new feature this year; a space for the groups that Jisc supports to come together for some rare face to face time.

Having launched in January, it seemed a good opportunity to showcase what’s been happening in the New Digital Storytelling community, a group initiated by Richard Beggs at Ulster University and Dr Teti Dragas at Durham University.

Sadly Teti couldn’t be with us but Richard caught the “red-eye” from Belfast to lead things, with Zac and I helping out for Jisc.

To get the discussions going we shared resources which we’ve collectively developed to help learners overcome hurdles of inexperience, nerves or scepticism and start identifying and telling stories about their own personal experiences. I’ve found that to be one of the hardest parts of running digital storytelling projects, but one of the most fun.

Cards FOR Humanity

You can find the resources we used on the community Padlet. There’s no right or wrong way to use these card sets. The idea is just to prompt conversation in small groups.

Take a leaf out of Richard’s book and find a selection of Creative Commons (CC) images from the web and turn them into small flashcards. Sites like Openverse are handy for searching for CC images. Try searching using broad abstract keywords (people, nature, science, surprise, mystery, etc) and pick images that stand out to you, not just the prettiest. Remember to attribute if the license requires it.

Once you’ve printed out your pictures on small cards, give your participants the framing device of “This picture reminds me of a time when…” and ask them to choose one that speaks to them. Then share that story with one or more people. I like using this as a workshop opener, but it can be a much more profound exercise.

This other card set focuses on transformational moments. Stories are always about change in some way so using these text prompts as starters can be a good exploratory session.

Finally, this set of cards about story archetypes are useful if you are trying to help learners or colleagues think about a situation, event or project in story terms, to look at it from a different angle. I wrote up a facilitators guide for these in Jisc’s Vision and Strategy Toolkit (search the page for “narrative thinking”).

Got something to share?

One of the objectives of the Digital Storytelling Community is to help people to share resources and ideas they have created for their own storytelling work. If you have something that you’d like to share with the community, you can either upload it straight to the community padlet, or drop us an email at

Join the community Jiscmail list.

We look forward to being inspired by you!

By Chris Thomson

I'm a Subject Specialist at Jisc focusing on online learning and digital student experience.

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