Art Education Technology: Digital Storytelling

By Chung, Sheng Kuan | Art Education, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Art Education Technology: Digital Storytelling


Chung, Sheng Kuan, Art Education


Advances in computer technology dramatically transform modern society into an arena where digital devices are indispensable. Collectively, technologies create a new genre of contemporary art forms (Roland, 1994) that challenge art educators in search of meaningful practices. Teachers must know how to use computer technology to prepare students to function in this rapidly-changing world (Heise & Grandgenett, 1996).

Increasing concerns about promoting multilitcracy,1 aesthetic sensitivity, and a critical faculty in future citizens lead many art educators to a reconceptualization of art education as Visual Culture Art Education (Duncum, 2004; Freedman, 2003). The application of digital storytelling to art education offers tremendous potential for teaching contemporary visual culture to the digital generation. Digital storytelling is "the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling.... Digital stories derive their power through weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, and insights" (Digital Storytelling Association, 2002, para. 1-2). Digital storytelling not only addresses art education's current concerns with visual culture, computer technology, and interdisciplinary pedagogy, but also allows learners to cultivate and apply their multiple literacy, artistic, and critical skills to give voice to greater issues of importance to a worldwide audience. This article describes the implementation of an innovative course in art education technology at the University of Houston that teaches pre-and in-service art teachers how to apply digital storytelling to art education. The article proposes that digital storytelling is a powerful and relevant way to teach visual culture and art in the age of computer technology.

Digital Storytelling

A story is a narrative account of an incident, person, event, or position (Lambert, 2002). Stories vary in nature-they may be biographical, familial, ethnic, commercial, or instructional. A story is a restructured everyday experience through which we come to know, remember, and understand (Livo & Rietz., 1986). Through stories we explain, interpret, and assess situations, experiences, and ideologies, leading in turn to the creation of new meanings. As an intrinsic form of human communication, Storytelling is prevalent in all aspects of human interaction. It connects generations of the past with the present and future to form, pass on, or reformulate wisdom, values, and beliefs.

In this article, digital Storytelling refers to the practice of incorporating digital text, imagery, video, and audio into the presentation of a computer-mediated, multimedia story. Digital stories are presented in a variety of formats, for example, an all-text web page or a nonlinear interactive website (Paul & Fiebich, 2002). liana Atchley is often credited with initiating digital Storytelling over a decade ago (Lambert, 2002). He and his followers founded the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California, where workshops are held to produce digital stories. Meadows (2003b) considered digital stories to be "short, personal multimedia tales told from the heart." He maintained that "digital storytelling isn't just a tool; it's a revolution" (Meadows, 2003a, p. 192). With Internet technologies, digital storytelling makes it possible for individuals to produce their own meanings. It allows students to develop and present their own ideas to the real world.

Integrating Digital Storytelling with Art Education

In the summer of 2005, pre- and in-service art teachers at the University of Houston learned about art education technology through a graduate-level course, which focused on the application of digital storytelling to art education. This course explored the potential of digital storytelling for visual culture art education through the expansion of technology skills and knowledge for teaching art in a digital age.

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