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  • Writer's pictureTara O'Brien

Digital Story-Telling

Digital storytelling facilitates learning and formative assessment (of and for learning) based on a specific topic and perspective (Robin, 2016). Meaningful self-reflection, assessment, and feedback can be provided via usage of checklists and rubrics. The digital storytelling strategy allows students to utilize critical and creative thinking skills whilst developing transdisciplinary 21st learning skills.

Digital storytelling involves creating meaning, contributing, collaborating, sharing, connecting, and transformation (Tolisano, 2015). Digital stories typically fall into three categories: (1) personal narrative, (2) historical documentaries, (3) informational story (Robin, 2006).

Key to the process of digital storytelling is switching the perspective between students being “consumers” of media to the “creators” of media.


Digital Story-Telling as Assessment of and for Learning

Digital storytelling enables student-choice and creative expression. As digital stories use media and emotion to convey a message, story, and/or argument, teachers may struggle with maintaining subjectivity when assessing student work. Teachers may also struggle with ascertaining what students “know” when evaluating digital stories. Digital stories are well equipped to reveal the skills that students have acquired, but may be less equipped to demonstrate the content that a student has learned. Thus, objectively assessing digital stories can present a challenge without the use of rubrics and checklists.

Perhaps the greatest strength of digital stories as a formative and performative assessment of and for learning is the opportunity for student self-assessment. Digital stories reflect a student`s unique perspective and the creator of the content may be best positioned to evaluate progress. As an example, a student could develop and present a digital story, complete a self-assessment rubric, and then discuss this rubric with their teacher. The teacher could then provide meaningful, timely, and actionable feedback. Lastly, the student and teacher could co-design learning goals.

Digital storytelling facilitates learner-centered instruction. Shouldn’t digital story-telling as assessment fulfill the same pedagogical goal?


Digital Story-Telling Rubric Example

Here is an example rubric. Students can use this rubric to self-assess and reflect on learning.



Robin, B. (2006). The educational uses of digital storytelling. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2006 (pp. 709-716). Chesapeake, VA: AACE

Robin, B. R. (2016) The power of digital storytelling to support teaching and learning. Digital Education Review, 30. 17-29. The Power of Digital Storytelling to Support Teaching and Learning.pdf

Tolisano, S. R. (2015) Digital storytelling: What it is… and… what it is not. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from[1]what-it-is-not/

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