Digital storytelling for projects – background and examples

At Netskills we’re developing our approach to helping project teams to use digital storytelling as a way of demonstrating their impacts. Part of this includes developing our own skills but we’re also putting together guidance for project teams working in JISC funded programmes.

The first stages of developing this guidance is setting out the stall for what this sort of digital storytelling might look like but also what the benefits of it could be.

This is a snippet of audio I recorded as a basic introduction prior to a workshop that is happening in October for one of the JISC programmes.

The big problem has been finding examples of digital stories about the impacts of change and innovation on stakeholders. Most storytelling out there tends to be education-related or personal reflection which is great for demonstrating the form but not so much how it might relate to the projects context. It seems that most project storytelling is kept within institutions which is a shame as this misses out on the opportunity for getting attention from wider audiences.

We’ve been using a story I did for another Netskills project that partners Northumberland National Park but although it’s about project work it’s still mostly personal reflection.

Thankfully Cherly Diermyer, one of the DS Working Group on Facebook sent me 2 very interesting links which I think we’ll be using to get the earlier workshops started. (Hopefully, we’ll have some JISCy examples to use for later ones).

They’re from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and you can check them out at these links:

  • WiSCO Story – the strongest example – showing a narrative description of an unsatisfactory status quo, an intervention with support from outside and the qualitative evidence of change.
  • Brad Postle’s story – Think of this more as describing Brad’s personal journey. There’s not as much here about the students’ stories but it still follows a basic narrative arc.

In fact, there’s a whole bunch of other examples on their gallery site.

The music is a little intrusive but they’re good examples. The use of video talking heads and text animation means that a lot of specialist production work has gone into them. Equally compelling stories could be told using a simpler approach of recorded voiceover, still images and so on, like the embedded story above.

There’s obviously a lot more detail behind these stories but we’re trying to encourage projects to see storytelling as providing a route in to this more objective, quantitative data. It also helps to add the engaging human perspective on what might be formal reporting that is difficult to relate to outside of the project team.

Storytelling is about helping project teams keep an outward focus when it comes to communicating their impacts.

I hope to have lots more to say about this sort of storytelling over the coming months. If it’s something that interests you I’d love to here from you.

One thought on “Digital storytelling for projects – background and examples”

  1. HI Tasha, cheers for replying. The whole individual/organisational one is a tricky thing for us. We’re trying to help the projects we work with to see things in a more personal light but it’s a big leap for some and opens up lots of perceived risks. I guess we’re trying to humanise the process of communicating the impacts of a project, "softening the edges" so to speak.Your examples are really useful (and I always enjoy watching this kind of thing too) and I’d be really interested in your program impact stories. Hopefully, once we’ve done a bit more I should be able to repay the favour. :)C

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