Introduction to Digital Storytelling


The Center's Digital Story QuiltDigital storytelling originates in Berkeley, California at the Center for Digital Storytelling ( Influenced by popular education, third world cinema, and the community documentary movement, digital storytelling values the power of story as a tool for self-discovery and reflection, community building and education, organizing, and advocacy. These workshops guide participants through a process combining storytelling with modern-day technology and digital media. All participants create a three to four minute video through an intensive workshop format. Digital stories are based on participants’ own experiences and told through their own perspectives. Participants’ voices are recorded and integrated with photographs, letters, home videos, and other artifacts. These pieces can be viewed on DVD, VHS, CD, or uploaded to the web. [from Creative Narrations / massIMPACT Spreading the Stories curriculum].

Why Use Stories for Community Building and/or Organizing?

  • Stories can gather knowledge and coax out leadership
  • Stories connect individuals based on common experiences
  • Stories can create the conditions for change
  • Storytelling fosters participation, dialogue, and voice

Roxanne JohnsonCTC VISTAs have used digital storytelling in various ways in their work. Morgan Sully, developed an open source toolkit on CD to bring to sessions he did at The San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Community Center. Roxanne Johnson, at, built upon this toolkit to train her AmeriCorps volunteers and youth at the Twin Cities C-CAN/CTEP Project in MN. Former VISTA Dean Gransar and current VISTAs Kevin Palmer and AJ McGuire at HOME Inc are using digital storytelling to teach media literacy in schools. Danielle Martin (massIMPACT) and Jessica McCoy (CDS) are currently developing an online resource for community digital storytelling facilitators at

Here's an example of a story, made by a teen at the BGCB Cyber Summit in Spring 2006.


Vanessa (age 15) was a representative from the Roxbury Boys & Girls Club at the 2006 BGCB Cyber Summit in April. This is her digital story about misrepresentation of her neighborhood in the local media.