Digital Storytelling using Animaker for diversity and multiculturalism

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The power of storytelling as a pedagogical tool has been recognised since the beginning of humanity, and in more recent times, for e-Learning (Neal, 2001).

Digital storytelling is simply the application of technology to the “ancient” experience of sharing personal narratives (Armstrong, 2003).

According to research, digital storytelling is a powerful tool to integrate instructional messages with learning activities to create more engaging and exciting learning environments and provide better educational outcomes for the trainees (Smeda, Dakich & Sharda 2014).

We are proposing a digital storytelling experience to implement in multicultural learning contexts using Animaker (
Competences addressed
Digital storytelling may enhance the trainees’ up-skilling regarding:

  • writing,
  • design,
  • library and research,
  • technology and communication (Smeda, Dakich & Sharda 2014).
  • Offer digital literacy skills to trainees from diverse and multicultural backgrounds, and build capacity of those individuals to tell their stories
  • Build a community of many cultures within a class
  • Lift up the voices of trainees from diverse and multicultural backgrounds to be heard by the broader community
  • To use digital storytelling for integrating instructional messages with learning activities to create more engaging and exciting learning environments and provide more meaningful educational outcomes for the trainees.
The ideal number can vary from 20 to 25 trainees. The trainees can be divided in smaller groups of 5 (see process) to discuss specific questions or implement specific tasks, or it can be also completed individually.
The process may take from 9 to 18 sessions of at least 1 hour each.
Laptops, smartphones, internet access. The trainer needs to register and get familiarised with Animaker and invite the trainees. Computers or mobile phones with connection are necessary for all participants.
We propose a 6 step process to implement digital storytelling that can be adapted to different age groups and trainees backgrounds:

1. Brainstorming with trainees about the stories: Typical expected duration is 1 to 3 days. Trainers divide Trainees into groups and allocate topics for them to discuss between themselves, share their ideas with each other and brainstorm the story in different ways. The Trainees discuss ideas and write the initial narrative for the story for a particular topic the trainer had given them.

2. Storyboarding: The purpose of this is to create the storyboard. The estimated duration is 2 to 4 days. Trainers help their trainees in writing the storyboard to organise the story sequences. They also help trainees clarify the main ideas of the story. Trainees, on the other hand, create the storyboard and select the right element(s) for it. They may also start by writing a draft of their storyboard. This assists in planning the visual materials in the right order, and thinking about how to match images or videos with the voiceover and music.

3. Searching the material: collecting the material required to create the digital story over a period of 2 to 4 days. Trainers demonstrate to their trainees how to look for images from different sources such as books, magazines, and the internet. They also explain copyright and digital rights issues related to the materials used. Furthermore, trainers show the trainees how to use the digital camera or smartphone. It is the trainees’ responsibility to choose elements which match their digital story such as photos, videos, and music.

4. Creating the digital story: The objective is to use Animaker software ( for creating a digital story. You can use these videos to learn how to use it: Animaker allows creating animations, inphographics, presentations or posters. Trainers may manage the trainees’ accounts from a single dashboard, organize and retrieve the trainees’ files in one place, team up trainees into multiple workgroups (for exampler in smaller groups of up to 5) and share projects and get instant feedback. Trainers help the trainees who want to develop their story using Animaker. They can review and help the trainee to make the story more attractive, adjusting the length of each visual element to make sure it matches the narration, and this is done over the entire digital story.

5. Editing and feedback: after the trainee has created its first version. The duration of this is 1 to 3 days. In this lesson trainers provide some feedback to incorporate further improvements before the final draft of the digital story. Trainees revise and edit the drafts based on trainers’ comments and feedback. Then they discuss the final drafts with the trainer and other trainees. The final form of the story is prepared based on these comments and feedback.

6. Presentation and evaluation: The final step of digital story creation is about presenting and evaluating the finalised digital stories over 1 or 2 days. Trainers attend the trainee presentation and evaluate them based on story elements, story creation and presentation. The sole responsibility of the trainees in this lesson is to present the digital story to trainers, classmates, and parents.

Note: Digital storytelling can be implemented different software. Here we propose Animaker but there are other free software and apps available that trainers may decide to use.

It is important that the trainer see him/herself as a facilitator: this supports story sharing and this to become a very powerful experience.

Cultural sharing can be an option to enrich digital storytelling: as example in step 1 you can have students share objects that represent their culture or community. This can set the tone of the experience making als emphasis on cultural exchange.

Try to set a space for culture and story sharing and for feedback within the group.

Make sure timing is adapted to the needs of the class.

Please note that as exercise 1 we have included a “one on one” approach including a volunteer trainee as facilitator and another trainee who is telling his/her story.
  • Exercise 1

    Digital storytelling is:
    1. Learning how to tell stories about success with new technologies (for example. The story of Steve Jobs)
    2. The application of technology to the “ancient” experience of sharing personal narratives (Armstrong, 2003)
    3. Tool to learn how to use digital tools in the classroom

    (The right answer is b)
  • Exercise 2
  • Exercise to implement digital storytelling using a “one on one” approach

    When we meet an individual (let’s call her “Maria”) who has a compelling story we believe needs to be told, we assign a volunteer trainee to work with Maria to produce a digital story.

    We first meet with Maria and explain the digital storytelling process.
    If she is interested, we set up a time for an interview, and we spend time listening to the Maria’s story. We take notes as we listen and then reflect back what we have heard, highlighting what sound like the most important parts for Maria. We ask additional questions, including “What do you want a broader EU audience to know about you or your story?” Then, we either write up what we have heard into a narrative and let Maria look over it and edit it, or if she feels comfortable, Maria herself will write up the narrative. Once Maria is satisfied with her narrative, we help her record it in her own voice (for example, using Audacity).

    We have done this whole process in as little as 2 hours, or it could also be done over a period of time.

    However, someone who has limited time may not be able to easily return to record their story; that’s why we try to get it all done at once. Once her narrative is recorded, the volunteer trainee works to edit the audio, develop a storyboard, find photos (with Maria’s help and suggestions), and edit the full story together. Ideally, there is constant back and forth consulting so that the final product reflects the Maria’s vision, but this also depends on how much time and access to phone and internet Maria has.
  • Interactive exercise

  • Digital storytelling is

Armstrong S. (2003). The power of storytelling in education. In Snapshots Edited by: Armstrong S. 2003, 11–20.
Neal L. (2001). Storytelling at a distance. eLearn Mag 2001, 5: 4. 10.1145/566970.566979
Smeda, N., Dakich, E. & Sharda, N. (2014). The effectiveness of digital storytelling in the classrooms: a comprehensive study. Smart Learn. Environ. 1, 6 (2014).

Tool authored by M. Begoña Arenas for the DIVINT Project.