Digital Storytelling (DST)

Digital Storytelling is a methodology that was developed in the mid-90s at the Centre for Digital Storytelling in San Francisco. It has been widely used since then by activists, researchers and artists.

A learning, creating and sharing experience supported by technology, allowing participants to share aspects of their life story through the creation of their own short digital media production.  ‘Media’ may include the digital equivalent of film, animation, photos, audio recordings or electronic files that individuals can use to tell a story or present an idea. It is a process that combines creative writing, oral history, art therapy, and participatory media production methods to assist people in telling stories as short digital videos.

The process involves intensive workshops during which participants develop a personal narrative, usually around three minutes long. They then record and illustrate this narrative with still images or photographs. The final product is a short film, which has been produced and edited by the narrator. A first person voice is used in the narration.

One example is the Sustainable Livilihood Foundation. The research was undertaken with seven participants from two townships in Cape Town that have high rates of TB, HIV and TB/HIV co-infection. Six out of the seven research participants were identified through a TB and HIV/AIDS prevention focus group (The Delft Community Help Campaign), comprising 20 members, that has been established through SLF as part of an ongoing community engagement initiative in the township of Delft supported by the USAID Tuberculosis Program South Africa. The objective of the research was to better understand the direct personal impact that TB and/or HIV have on the lives of people living in poverty in South Africa, using the participatory methodology of digital storytelling. Digital storytelling is a learning, creating and sharing experience supported by technology, allowing participants to produce their own short film containing voice, imagery and music. Community members have created a series of digital stories, vividly depicting how TB and HIV have deeply affected their lives.

PRG research initiatives that used digital storytelling

The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, Engaging South Africa Youth, and Women on the Theme of Tuberculosis and HIV using a Digital Storytelling Approach

Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development Uganda, Becoming Visible: Tackling the Urban Health Divide in Kawempe Slum in Uganda

Oneworld – Platform for South East Europe Foundation, LGBTIQA Activism in the Western Balkans

The Theatre for Development Centre, A Message to Democracy – Our Dreams