Digital storytelling (DST) is a term that means different things in different contexts. At UMBC we primarily take our meaning from the pioneering work carried out by StoryCenter, formerly the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS). In the mid-nineties CDS developed a three-day workshop in which participants create 3-5 minute digital movies from photographs and personal artifacts. These stories typically take the form of personal narratives in which the author reflects on a life experience. The techniques of digital storytelling have become popular in classrooms as a means of self-expression and developing digital literacy skills. In addition, digital storytelling can foster relationships in communities and help to address issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice.
Beginning in 2006, UMBC’s New Media Studio (NMS) organized a series of StoryCenter and peer-to-peer on campus workshops, giving faculty members an opportunity to gain insight into DST as a pedagogical tool. Since that time, UMBC faculty have applied DST in their teaching and research in creative ways. In some cases, these projects go beyond the traditional personal narrative focus of digital storytelling to include documentaries and other forms of visual assignments.
Dresher Center Working Group:
DST and Civic Action in Higher Education
The Dresher Center’s DST working group currently supports the community of practice developed in the early NMS workshops. This working group provides opportunities for faculty, staff and graduate students to share experiences and ideas through presentations, gatherings, workshops and roundtables. This group explores research about and with DST, including discussions of digital literacies and competencies in the humanities and social sciences, narrative and storytelling research, community building and civic agency, and scholarship of teaching and learning across disciplines. The working group serves as a steering body for ongoing digital storytelling activities, serves as a networking space, and connects with other campus work that involves storytelling for civic agency and engagement.
This working group is active in connecting UMBC with an international community of digital storytelling practitioners though conferences and joint projects. Interacting with this broader community of practice has enabled us to introduce UMBC to innovative works and explore inter-institutional collaborations. In 2023 the working group worked with the University of Loughborough, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital access, and Montgomery County Community College in hosting the 11th International Digital Storytelling conference (DST2023).
In addition to this website, we have established a myUMBC group (https://my3.my.umbc.edu/groups/stories) to serve as a convenient means of communication with the UMBC campus community. We also maintain a listserv as a way of extending our community of practice beyond the campus.
– Bill Shewbridge (Media and Communication Studies)