ArticlesJuly 2014

Digital Stories in a Language Classroom: Engaging Students through a Meaningful Multimodal Task

Polina VinogradovaBy Polina Vinogradova, Ph.D, Director of the TESOL Program, Department of World Languages and Cultures, American University.




In spring 2005, I took a new media and culture class where one of the assignments was to complete a digital story. I was fascinated when watching digital stories published by the Center for Digital Storytelling . In particular, two stories greatly impacted me – Sacrificios by Ernesto Ayala and Now I Know by T. Xiang. The stories were sincere and powerful. On a personal level, I felt that with this genre, I could overcome my inability to express myself creatively as, sadly, I do not have musical or artistic talents, and my writing constantly reminds me of the limitations that come with being a non-native English speaker who is working and writing in English. With digital stories, artistic expression became possible. I could write a short story and pair it with visual images and music that carry particular meaning to me. I could also choose to reveal as many details about myself as I was comfortable with and could be less explicit verbally while letting the visual and musical components create additional layers of meaning and complete the message. Thus, the genre allowed me to be a little bit of a performer and an artist, while using artifacts produced by others. With this genre, I was able to focus on what I could do rather than on what was limiting me. I was inspired and continued thinking about digital stories as a language educator.

Source: Me and military, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Exploring aspects of identity negotiation and challenges that ESL learners face when coming to study in the US, I thought that a digital storytelling assignment could be an intriguing addition to the ESL curriculum.  It would bring students’ interests and backgrounds into the pedagogical process; give voice to ESL learners and give flexibility in finding forms of expression; engage the students in meaning-making that is relevant to them; and encourage them to use English language skills for meaningful communication. I also wanted to introduce multiliteracies and multimodal assignments to my teaching and I could see how through the process of digital story production, ESL learners could explore multimodal meaning-making. Reading the works of Gunther Kress and Leo Van Leuven (Kress 2003; Kress and van Leeuwen 2001; van Leeuwen and Jewitt 2001), Glynda Hull and Mark Nelson (Hull and Nelson 2005; Nelson 2006; Nelson and Hull 2008) and the scholars of the New London Group (1996, 2000), I envisioned the possibility of incorporating activities through which the students could critically analyze multimodal messages, explore the roles of their L1s and target language in their digital stories, and also engage more meaningfully with their classmates. I wanted to see what would happen in an ESL class when the students were in charge of the process, when they had the flexibility to make linguistic and content decisions, and when they became the main judges of their own work. With the help and support of my colleagues Beverly Bickel and Heather Linville, I developed a cross-cultural communication course for intermediate to advanced ESL students and conducted several digital storytelling projects that explored these themes (see Vinogradova 2011; Vinogradova, Linville, and Bickel 2011). The collaborative aspects of digital story production coupled with the opportunity to engage language learners in meaningful language practices, got me excited about using digital stories with ESL learners.


“Digital storytelling allows everyone to have a voice, especially for some who are more reluctant to speak in the classroom” – Quote from a teacher candidate (Robertson, Highes, and Smith 2012).

Pedagogical uses of digital stories refers to a multimodal genre of short (two- to five-minute) personal narratives that combine audio recorded verbal narration, visual images of various formats, and a musical background. This format, developed by the Center for Digital Storytelling, highlights engagement with the audience through the presence of seven elements: (1) the point of view of the authors; (2) a dramatic question which “set[s] up a tension” and captivates the audience throughout the story; (3) the emotional content; (4) the presence of the author’s voice which adds to the emotional content and allows the authors to emphasize different elements of their narratives; (5) the soundtrack or musical background which also conveys emotions and creates emphasis; (6) economy of words; and (7) pacing (Lambert 2006, 50).

Language educators have been in search of new technologies and pedagogical approaches that can assist us in bringing engaging student-centered practices into the language curriculum. Digital stories have the potential to meet this demand. In addition, language educators have been extensively discussing and advocating for the urgent need to introduce multiliteracies and multimodal materials to the process of learning second, foreign, and heritage languages. These discussions are triggered by the increasing sociocultural diversity of our language learners, our recognition of the value of multilingual and translingual practices, and deepened understanding of multimodal communication. As we strive to meet the needs of our students, we need to create an environment where all participants in the language learning process engage in meaningful language practices. In other words, as Suresh Canagarajah said in his recent discussion at the 2014 meetings of the American Association of Applied Linguistics, we need to be able to “do language” (Canagarajah 2014) inside and outside the classroom.

This challenge of contemporary language education requires us to look at technologies and pedagogical approaches that incorporate multimodal meaning making and bring our students’ diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences into the process of language acquisition. Digital stories as multimodal personal digital narratives can address the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse language learners as well as the needs of educators looking for innovative, transformative, and student-centered teaching. Recent research and projects that focus on the use of digital stories in second, foreign, and heritage language education and in teacher training highlight the potential of digital stories to (1) bring in project-based learning; (2) evolve this learning around students’ lives, experiences, and interests; (3) facilitate classroom practices through various forms of multimodal activities; (4) bring in the development of multiliteracies; (5) expose students to multimodal meaning making; and  (6) encourage students to engage in meaningful communication in and outside of classroom (see Castañeda 2013; Hur and Sah 2012; Oskoz and Elola 2014; Robertson, Highes, and Smith 2012; Santons Green 2013; Tatum Tobin 2012; Vinogradova, Linville, and Bickel 2011; Yang 2012).

For language education, it is the process of digital story production that is particularly valuable as it allows students and educators to engage in a multi-stage collaborative process through various in-class and out-of-class activities. In addition to ongoing meaningful written and oral communication, these activities involve multimodal composition, critical reflections, regular peer feedback, small and large group discussions, and constant conscious redesigning and redefining of language learning. In this process, the students’ roles change “from passive information receivers to active knowledge developers” (Hur and Sah 2012, 324). This seems to be the essence of digital storytelling and the main reason why language educators have been using this genre in their classes.

Here, I discuss five digital storytelling projects that were recently conducted by language educators in their second/foreign language and teacher-education classes. I selected these projects as they illustrate the flexibility of the digital storytelling genre and its pedagogical applications in K-12, higher education, and teacher training. In addition, I consulted with Martha Castañeda (Miami University), Heather Linville (American University), Ana Oskoz (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), and Yu-Feng (Diana) Young (National Sun Yat-Sen University) who reflect on their experiences of using digital stories in their classes and projects and make some practical suggestions for language educators.

Source: Mes parents, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


“One of the benefits of using digital stories as a project in a language class is that this is an assignment that students really believe in.” (Ana Oskoz, Spanish Faculty, University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

In digital storytelling projects, language educators generally follow these steps of digital story production: (1) brainstorming ideas for a digital story; (2) exchanging ideas with fellow participants in a story circle; (3) writing a script; (4) collecting visual images; (5) finding music to accompany the verbal and visual narrative elements; (6) storyboarding; (7) recording the audio; and (8) producing a digital story using video-editing software (Lambert 2009). At the same time, the process of digital story production is quite flexible and allows us to adjust the steps and incorporate additional ones depending on the goals for the assignment, the format of the classes, and overall course curriculum.

An Authentic Task in a Spanish High School Class

Martha Castañeda (2013) followed the eight steps of digital story production listed above when working with fourth year high school Spanish students. She also emphasized the importance of the elements of presentational writing that include “planning, drafting, obtaining feedback, and publishing” (48). In her project, students started with viewing existing digital stories produced in community and school settings and illustrated possible foci of digital stories such as personal accomplishments or memorial stories by authors of different ages. At the same time, it was important for Castañeda to connect the digital storytelling assignment to students’ lives and interests. She offered the following prompt to the students:

You are on the verge of graduating high school. Now is an ideal time to share a story from your high school experience. Think of a story that you want to share with your peers as well as with an audience. You will package this story and present it to an audience on the last day of the project. (Castañeda 2013, 50).

For Castañeda, it was interesting to explore how high school students would perceive completing a digital storytelling assignment in Spanish and what skills would be involved in the process of digital story production. At the same time, she was concerned about the possibility of the students’ negative reaction to a 250-word limit for their narratives in Spanish, the students’ doubts about the use of unfamiliar technology and software, and their ability to capture the essence of the task despite its novelty and technological requirements. She was surprised to see that the students responded positively to the word limitation and that they were proud of their ability to write a coherent 250-word narrative in Spanish, as it was an illustration of their language learning progress. Students were also able to understand the nuances of the task and embraced the opportunity to tell multimodal stories about significant events in their lives (Castañeda, 2013). She further explained the reasons for using digital stories in her teaching and research work to me:

The overarching purpose of my digital storytelling project is to engage students in an authentic task. The specific goals are threefold: a) authoring a polished narrative using the multiple draft approach; b) designing a cohesive product while simultaneously learning valuable technical skills; and c) engaging in the presentational mode of communication by presenting a quality product to an expanded audience that goes beyond the teacher.

A New Writing Task in a Spanish University Class

Oskoz and Elola (2014) also assigned a digital storytelling project in their university advanced-level Spanish writing class with a focus on culture. The goal of the assignment was to expose students to a form of writing that “might also challenge learners in new ways because this conception of the writing act shifts away from traditional pen-and-paper and word-processing methods into areas that initially might seem novel and daunting” (180). Oskoz and Elola stress that the development of digital stories focuses on the combination of images, music, and voice “in complex layers” (180) thus supporting the development of the students’ linguistic and writing skills. In our conversation, Ana Oskoz further clarified:

Sometimes you look at a narrative for a digital story on paper, and you see that it is not necessarily a perfect narrative: some linguistic elements might be missing; the elements might not be well connected. But then you see a complete digital story with this narrative, and it is powerful and compelling because the students carefully selected visual images and music, because they thought about implicit and explicit messages of the images they used. You realize that the power and the layers of meaning present are impossible to obtain just with a written narrative.

In addition to digital stories, their students completed a narrative essay, two argumentative essays, and two expository essays, all of which prepared the students for digital storytelling work. At the same time, they engaged in online discussions that covered political and cultural topics related to Latino voting, the Dream Act, immigration, and elections. These discussions helped the students develop their topics and also prepared them for the task of digital story production. As Oskoz described in our conversation, the students researched and developed their understanding of the content of their topics while working on their argumentative and expository essays. After that, they were asked to develop personally relevant narratives of their digital stories using the content they had already researched. She further added:

For example, one of the students whose digital story was based on the Dream Act – the topic of immigration – shared about her immigrant friend and had to go through the process of the Dream Act unsuccessfully. So the final piece – a digital story – was very personal. (Conversation with Ana Oskoz)

Although they followed the typical steps in the digital storytelling process, there was significant emphasis (a total of eight weeks of class) on narrative development and understanding of writing since the project was in an advanced writing class (For a detailed project schedule see Appendix 1A). While digital storytelling projects were individual assignments in this class, Oskoz and Elola (2014) highlight the fact that students worked collaboratively through discussions and in some instances even when writing their verbal narratives for digital stories.

Most of this collaboration for the digital storytelling project took place in class, and even when we ran out of time, the students stayed after class and continued working. They found this collaborative work very important, as they really wanted to know what their classmates thought about their digital stories; they really liked the idea of getting feedback. (Conversation with Ana Oskoz)

This involvement and constant collaboration that happens in the process of digital story production allows students to become engaged with their topics and to reflect on different phases of digital story production, thus making the task and the learning process more meaningful. As one of Castañeda’s students stated, “this [project] made me try Spanish in a different way, making myself sound good in Spanish rather than just saying what I have to say. I had to try even harder.”

Source: Contrast between the US and my country, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


A Collaborative Task in an ESL University Class

Working with ESL learners of advanced level language proficiency in content-based integrated skills classes, I followed the typical steps of digital story production. At the same time, I detailed the stages and added peer-review and additional opportunities for the students to get feedback from their peers and instructor in order to further explore how the process of digital story production can impact student language learning (steps outlined in Appendix 1B). Students received formal instructor feedback and suggestions on the following core assignments: drafting and editing their verbal narratives, storyboarding (i.e., developing explicit outlines of their digital stories), and producing their digital stories using the software. At other stages in the project, the students got extensive feedback from their peers and always had the option to request feedback from me. This flexibility allowed students to obtain meaningful feedback necessary for their progress and allowed me to scaffold them through the process. Most importantly, students became the judges of their own learning and progress. It was amazing to see that students were utilizing multiple opportunities for feedback and, while some were working extensively with their peers communicating meaningfully in English, others chose to request my feedback on a regular basis. In two classes, I observed student partnerships that were based on common themes of digital stories or common learning and work strategies rather than on shared linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Since all student interactions took place in English, they facilitated students’ linguistic growth in the target language. For example, in one class, a student from Cameroon and a student from South Korea were working on digital stories about their parents and families. Over a period of several classes and during the peer-review, they discussed the structure and power of their verbal narratives (including grammatical correctness of sentences) and the meanings of photographs they were using. In another class, a student from Switzerland and a student from Saudi Arabia worked as partners and helped each other to understand how someone from another culture could perceive the cultural messages of their photographic images.

The steps of digital story production I followed allowed the students to be independent learners and, at the same time, continuously share their digital storytelling experiences with their classmates and myself. They were also able to seek feedback from their classmates and instructor when they wanted input while making their own independent content decisions. From the instructor’s point of view, these steps allowed me to set deadlines, monitor students’ progress without being an overpowering authority in their creative process, and ensure that the students engaged in various communicative activities that addressed the development of integrated language skills through meaningful communication.

The classroom interactions in the target language and the students’ exploration of multimodal meaning making resulted in captivating and engaging digital stories. Language educators who use digital stories have highlighted these outcomes consistently. In our conversation, Martha Castañeda stressed that the most surprising take-away from the projects she had done with her students was the quality of work that students produced:

The finished product compiles exceptional writing with excellent technology skills. I am always impressed with students’ ownership of the project and the quality that self-authoring brings to the project. When you personalize a task, students appear to engage with the task and reach higher levels of critical thinking and writing (Conversation with Martha Castañeda).

From the discussion above, we see the value of digital storytelling projects and assignments in second and foreign language classes. Thus, it is important to introduce the genre to teacher candidates with the goal to explore the process of digital story production and its pedagogical implications and to prepare them to use digital stories effectively with their own students. It is also important for teacher candidates to engage in reflexive practices and, as Heather Linville suggested in our conversation, understand their future students’ experience creating digital stories.

Source: My big foot, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


A Reflexive Task for Teacher Candidates

This project helps put the pre-service teachers in the shoes of their future students, some of whom may have very limited experience with technology and who may find it difficult to tell a story. It also helps them recognize and challenge their own preconceived notions about each other and about their own abilities.” (Heather Linville, TESOL Faculty, American University)

Digital storytelling projects have been used with pre-service second/foreign language teachers to focus on reflexive practices in their own teaching and learning and to explore new pedagogical uses of technology and the role of multiliteracies in a language classroom. For example, Robertson, Hughes, and Smith (2012) conducted a digital storytelling project with pre-service teachers in a language arts course at a university in Canada and looked at “transformative elements” (78) of digital stories and pre-service teachers’ responses to the projects with the ultimate goal “to transform teaching and learning to meet the changing needs of their future student populations” (78).

Heather Linville and Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang have been using digital stories with future ESL and EFL teachers with similar objectives in their Technology for Language Teaching and Learning and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) classes, respectively. In addition to reflexive pedagogical practices, Yang wanted her undergraduate students at a university in Taiwan to experience writing English for digitally mediated communication contexts with the goal of learning to utilize multimodal materials to deliver messages (Yang 2012). In Yang’s case, the students were pre-service EFL teachers as well as EFL learners. Thus, they were engaged in the process of communication in their target language while exploring new methods of teaching this language. Overall, Yang was impressed by how creative some digital stories were and how effectively the students combined multimodal elements. At the same time, as she pointed out in our conversation, the students in her class were somewhat critical of the genre.

Many of the students believed that digital story projects are irrelevant for language learning as they felt that they spent more hours rearranging different multimodal materials and dealing with technical issues than “practicing” the language. It seems that the student didn’t recognize that they were actually involved in “practicing and learning a language,” as the activities they were engaged in were very different from how they usually learn or teach in other language classrooms. (Conversation with Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang).

I encountered a similar attitude towards digital story production in the ESL classes, especially at the beginning. In one class, a student wrote in a final essay that she had enjoyed all assignments, but still thought that a teacher should lecture and students should listen, take notes, and practice. Ironically, she was an English language teacher in her home country and was a student who worked very hard on perfecting her verbal narrative, re-recorded it several times before using the audio in her digital story, and produced one of the most personal and powerful digital stories I have ever seen. Similarly, Yang observed that while students in her CALL class were questioning the occurrence of language learning while working on their digital storytelling projects, they were in fact motivated to pay closer attention to language forms that they produced.

For example, to get their story right, they had to re-record it multiple times to ensure that their intonation, tones, pitches, and prosody fit their story precisely. To get their story to the audience and to engage their audience, they had to choose their words carefully so that their audience would be able to “feel” character emotions when watching their digital stories. (Conversation with Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang).

This is another illustration of how carefully students work on layering meaning in their digital stories. In this process, they are developing a deeper understanding of language practices as well as methodology of engaging their own students in this type of learning.

Working with teacher candidates in her Technology for Language Teaching and Learning class, Heather Linville requires students to figure out the details of the process and find video-editing software that works best for them in the process of completing the task/assignment. She works with the students on crucial steps of digital story production such as completing a story circle, developing storyboards, discussing the project progress, and going over possible ways to assess digital stories. At the same time, she takes a hands-off approach with technology, pushing the students to identify the skills and knowledge they lack and locate resources and others who can help them complete the task.

I believe this mimics the situation they will be in once they become teachers and will help give them confidence to take on new technological projects in the future. As an added bonus, the students have the opportunity to reflect on their own language teaching, learning, and/or cultural experiences in a way that they don’t in their other teacher education program classes. (Conversation with Heather Linville)

This shows that the digital storytelling genre, and the process and pedagogical approach that come with using it in language and teacher education classes, challenge our students’ preconceived notions of what language learning and teaching is. This challenge is particularly important for future language teachers, as it encourages them to reflect on their own experiences and teaching practices, and, as Linville points out, “helps pre-service or in-service teachers explore their own experiences in a less academic format. Digital stories also bring creativity into the teacher preparation program, and prepare teachers to bring creativity into their own classroom” (Conversation with Heather Linville).  In this creative process, future language teachers are also introduced to multimodal meaning making and to the notion of a pedagogy of multiliteracies (New London Group 1996, 2000) as they engage in situated practice by making personally significant digital stories, overt instruction as they scaffold the process through which they are the most important judges of their work,  and critical framing as they reflect on the process and their perceptions of language learning and teaching. This culminates in a transformed practice that teacher candidates will carry into their teaching along with a better understanding of their students and their students’ language learning needs.


Finding ways to assess digital storytelling projects has proven to be one of the most challenging aspects of using the genre in language education. Assigning a grade to a creative and personal project in which we want the students to engage with the topic and the process and be the main judges of their performance seems to go against the purpose of using digital stories in a class in the first place. And, as we want the students, whether language learners or future language teachers, to challenge their assumptions of what a language project or task can be, as Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang pointed out in our conversation, it does not make sense to evaluate our students’ work with the mindset of traditional definitions of language, literacy practices, and language learning. When talking to Marta Castañeda, she also stressed the difficulty in assessing “emotional stories created with passion and commitment.” Below are several approaches to digital story projects assessment that these educators have been sharing with me during our conversations.

Digital Storytelling Assessment

Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang assesses students’ performance based on the demonstration of their understanding of multimodal meaning making, as her class focuses on this outcome. Rather than evaluating the digital stories, she grades the students’ final presentations which include explanations of the production process, design choices, and the use of multimodal artifacts. Yang uses the following evaluation criteria to assess her students’ performance:

  • Content: Richness, thoroughness, and creativity – 40%
  • Delivery: Usefulness, appropriateness, and creativity in media uses – 40%
  • Professionalism: Effort and preparedness – 20%

Martha Castañeda and Ana Oskoz use rubrics to evaluate students’ digital stories based on the requirements outlined in their assignments and the elements of digital stories discussed in class. For example, Castañeda’s assessment items are:

  • task completion
  • level of discourse
  • language control
  • comprehensibility
  • presentation preparedness
  • sound, effects
  • awareness of audience.

In the assessment that Oskoz conducts, evaluation is directed at how the students created the meaning that they were trying to convey in the story. And since evaluation of the structure and development of the narrative are important for her writing class, she looks at the vocabulary and narrative components that are discussed in class, implicit and explicit images, the use of the transitions, dramatic question, pacing, economy of words, and the use of credits and citations.

In my work with ESL learners, I base assessment on completion of each stage of the digital story production process but do not assign a formal grade to the digital storytelling project. Students receive full credit for completing an element or a step of the project on time, a partial credit if they are late, and no credit if they choose to skip a step or an assignment.  This is another way to expose students to a different approach to language teaching and learning as well as to see whether this will affect the students’ involvement in the project. In my work, I have observed that it is not the grade that matters to the students, but rather the audience’s (i.e., their classmates and their families to whom they planned to send their digital stories) positive response. At the same time, I see value in using rubrics in assessing digital storytelling projects. They clearly outline evaluation criteria and guide students through the steps of digital story development and list the elements particularly relevant to the context of the class. (See Appendix 2A for a sample rubric.)

Working with future language teachers, Heather Linville wants to see her students take the lead in determining how their digital storytelling projects should be assessed. However, she finds it challenging. She usually gives the students a variety of digital story rubrics and then asks the students to create their own rubric as a class. “I have tried this as a whole-class discussion, as a small-group discussion, and in a collaborative wiki, but have yet to have a class really engage in the assessment issue” (Conversation with Heather Linville). In her assessment, she does not evaluate the students’ technological competence, as she does not teach the software programs they use to complete the story. Neither does she grade the story itself since she is not a creative writing teacher. Her assessment is based on the timely completion of each stage in the project. (See Appendix 2B for a sample rubric used by Linville.)

Linville suggests that for future language educators, a good long-term assessment of their engagement with the project and understanding of pedagogical implications would be a determination of how many of the students go on and use digital stories with their own students. And while she has not done this type of assessment formally, she knows that several of her students have used digital stories in their own teaching.


Digital stories are engaging multimodal projects that are used in second and foreign language classes to facilitate student engagement, explore multimodal meaning making, and expose language learners and future language teachers to new ways of learning and teaching. Through collaborative stages of the project, the students explore their experiences and talk about aspects of their lives that are meaningful to them in a less academic format. Thus, language learners engage in the same type of language practices they are very likely to do outside of the classroom, while future language teachers reflect on their own perceptions of what language learning and teaching entails. Digital stories also bring creativity and multimodal composition into the curriculum, facilitating the understanding and development of multiliteracies. This allows future language teachers to explore how pedagogical approaches can be redefined to prepare language learners to “do language”(Canagarajah, 2014) in and outside of the classroom.


Acknowledgement: I am grateful to my students for their hard work, interest in experimenting with digital stories, and for allowing me to use their work in my research. I thank the contributors to this article: Martha Castañeda, Heather Linville, Ana Oskoz, and Yu-Feng (Diana) Yang for taking their time to speak with me and share their experiences and digital storytelling work. I am also grateful to Heather Linville for her feedback on this article.


Polina Vinogradova

Polina Vinogradova (Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture) is director of the TESOL Program at American University. In her work, she focuses on pedagogical uses of digital storytelling, a pedagogy of multiliteracies in second and heritage language education, and multimodal identity negotiation.

Martha Castañeda

Martha Castañeda (Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Technology) is associate professor of Foreign Language Education at Miami University. Her academic work focuses on the social dimensions impacting language development in second and foreign language settings.

Heather A. LinvilleHeather A. Linville (Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture) is assistant professor and director of TESOL at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Before, she was a faculty member in the TESOL Program at American University and used digital stories in her work with pre-service language teachers. Her main research interests include language teacher education and advocacy for English language learners.  Ana OskozAna Oskoz (Ph.D. in Foreign Language and ESL Education) is associate professor of Spanish at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research focuses on language and technology, such as the use of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools for second language learning to enhance second language writing and foster intercultural competence development.

Yu-Feng YangYu-Feng (Diana) Yang (Ph. D. in Literacy Education) is associate professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Her research, often framed in post-modernist perspectives, explores English language learners’ participation in internet-mediated communication and their engagement in digital literacies practices. She has published in Language Learning and Technology and Computers and Composition.


These resources provide rich collections of digital stories produced as part of various digital storytelling projects including in second and foreign language classes. They offer information on the history of digital storytelling, steps of digital story production, ideas for introducing digital stories in classes and assessing student projects, and offer further resources useful to educators.

“Capture Wales.” BBC: Digital Storytelling project, 2001. Last modified 2014.

Center for Digital Storytelling(Berkeley, CA.).

Center for Digital Storytelling YouTube Channel:

Stephenson, Barrie. “Everyone Tells Stories.” Digistories: Digital Storytelling. (2002-2005).

“Digital Stories @ UMBC.” Digital Stories @ UMBC.

Digital Storytelling. (2004, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.)

Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. (The University of Houston, 2014).

Digital Underground Storytelling for Youth (DUSTY):

Outta Your Backpack (2014).

Silence Speaks (Founder Amy Hill: 1999).

Stories for Change:



Ayala, Ernesto. “A Digital Story by Ernesto Ayala.” Sacrificios (Berkeley, CA: Center for Digital Storytelling, 2000.) Retrieved April 16, 2008.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Implications of Globalization for New Directions in Language Teaching: What Role for Applied Linguistics?” Colloquia Discussion, Wilga Rivers Pedagogy Colloquium. Terrance G. Wiley and Meg Malone, organizers. American Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference. (2014).

Castañeda, Martha. “I am Proud that I did it and it’s a Piece of Me: Digital Storytelling in the Foreign Language Classroom.” CALICO Journal. (2013), 30(1): 44-62.

Hull, Glynda A., and Mark Evan Nelson. “Locating the Semiotic Power of Multimodality.” Written Communication. (2005), 22(2): 224-261.

Hur, Jung Won, and Suhyun Suh. “Making Learning Active with Interactive Whiteboards, Podcasts, and Digital Storytelling in ELL Classrooms.” Computers in the Schools. (2012), 29(4): 320-338.

Kress, Gunther. Literacy in the New Media Age. (New York, NY: Routledge, 2013).

Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc., 2001).

Lambert, Joe. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community (2nd ed.). (Berkley, CA: Digital Diner Press, 2006).

Lambert, Joe. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community (3rd ed.). (Berkley, CA: Digital Diner Press, 2009).

Matthews-DeNatale, Gail. Digital Storytelling Tips and Resources. (2008). Retrieved January 15, 2014.

Nelson, Mark Evan. “Mode, Meaning, and Synaesthesia in Multimedia L2 Writing. Language Learning & Technology. (2006), (2): 56-76.

Nelson, Mark Evan, and Glynda Hull. Self-presentation through Multimedia: A Bakhtinian Perspective on Digital Storytelling. Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-representations in New Media, edited by Knut Lundby. (New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2008), 123-141.

New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard Educational Review. (1996), 66(1): 60-91.

New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies Designing Social Futures.” Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, edited by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis. (New York, NY: Routledge, 2000). pp. 9-37.

Oskoz, Ana, and Idoia Elola. “Integrating Digital Stories in the Writing Class: Towards a 21st Century Literacy.” Digital Literacies in Foreign Language Education: Research, Perspectives, and Best Practices, edited by Janel Pettes Guikema and Lawrence Williams. (San Marcos: TX: CALICO, 2014). 179-200.

Robertson, Lorayne, Hughes, Janette, and Shirley Smith. “Thanks for the Assignment!”: Digital Stories as a Form of Reflective Practice.” Language and Literacy. (2012), (1): 78-90.

Santos Green, Lucy. “Language Learning through a Lens: The Case for Digital Storytelling in the Second Language Classroom.” School Libraries Worldwide. (2013), 19(2): 23-36.

Tatum Tobin, Maryann Tatum. “Digital storytelling: Reinventing literature circles.” Voices from the Middle. (2012), 20(2): 40-48.

Van Leeuwen, Theo, and Carey Jewitt, eds. Handbook of Visual Analysis. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2001).

Vinogradova, Polina. Digital Storytelling in ESL Instruction: Identity Negotiation through a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies. Doctoral Dissertation, 2011. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (AAT 3474260).

Vinogradova, Polina, Linville, Heather L., and Beverly Bickel. “Listen to my Story and you will Know me”: Digital Stories as Student-centered Collaborative Projects.” TESOL Journal. (2011), 2(2): 173-202.

Xiang, T., producer. Now I Know [Digital story], 2001. Retrieved February 15, 2006.

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