Digital Storytelling Success in College Humanities Course

Benmayor, R. (2008) Digital storytelling as a signature pedagogy for the new humanities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. Vol. 7. No. 2 (pp. 108 – 204)

Rina Benmayor explores and researches the significant contribution of digital storytelling in the humanities and how it is an extremely beneficial pedagogical strategy for students. This study specifically explores how digital storytelling can greatly enhance college students’ abilities to think creatively and apply critical thinking skills in autobiographical digital storytelling. According to Benmayor, “As an assets-based social pedagogy, digital storytelling constructs a safe and empowering space for cross-cultural collaboration and learning.” (p. 188). Benmayor observed that digital storytelling created a voice for students who would not typically share deep and meaningful autobiographical discourse in a traditional classroom setting. However, digital storytelling is an engaging tool that allows students to dig deep and resulted in transformative writings and understandings of other students’ history, cultures and plights. Digital storytelling encouraged students to analyze other stories, which facilitated the knowledge of cross-cutting themes across various students’ lives. This resulted in higher level cognition, self-reflection and connections among the instructor and students. Benmayor summarizes the digital storytelling steps as follows, “Making a digital story involves the skills of conceptualizing, writing, performing, selecting, imaging, integrating, and signifying.” (p. 195.) She also encouraged students to incorporate music and make the digital stories aesthetically pleasing to increase motivation and engagement. Benmayor highlights digital storytelling as a best practice in pedagogy that can definitely have a great impact on humanities’ instruction.

Benmayor’s students have created over 200 digital stories, which were used as data for this research. Therefore, Benmayor was able to determine the instructional validity of digital storytelling across various types of students in different settings. She discovered consistency in the creative and analytical processes that were incorporated into digital storytelling, as well as the meaningful discourse that it created. Benmayor realized the potential for digital storytelling approximately twelve years before she conducted this research. Therefore, her enthusiasm for elaborating on this pedagogy led her to have an excellent instructional tool that promotes transformative and enlightening experiences for her students. This can lead to success in other domains of learning as well.

Digital storytelling is an excellent instructional strategy in the humanities. I also reflected on how it can be used to promote success of elementary students in the area of math problem solving. Math problem solving requires high level thinking and possibly abstract thinking for students to complete the process. Digital storytelling can be incorporated to increase student engagement, technology incorporation and cognition of mathematical concepts.