Designing Digital Storytelling: Creative Technology for Reflection in Initial Teacher Education

Long, Bonnie (2014) Designing Digital Storytelling: Creative Technology for Reflection in Initial Teacher Education. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


A digital story is a short, 3-5 minute video, produced by someone who is not a media professional. The creation of a digital story includes incorporating multimedia components such as still images, music, video and a narration in the author's own voice. This paper discusses the results of a four year PhD study which examined the use of digital storytelling as a method of enhancing pre-service teachers' ability to reflect on their practice. Reflection represents a foundational, core developmental activity in teacher professional education. Reflection can, however, prove challenging, and even problematic, particularly for novice, pre-service teachers (Calderhead, 1989; Hatton & Smith, 1995; Korthagen, 2001; MacLeod & Cowieson, 2001; Moon, 1999). Narrative and technology potentially afford possibilities to render reflection more engaging and interactive (Barrett, 2005). Employing a design-based research (DBR) methodology, the research reported in this paper explored whether and how digital storytelling - as a potential synergy of narrative and technology - could be designed and deployed to enhance reflection in initial teacher education. Positioned in the context of similar developments and innovations internationally, this research is inspired by, and builds on the extant international research in the field of digital storytelling. Following a DBR process, the research utilised a theoretically-informed design framework: R-NEST, which arose from the identification of key issues, or themes, during the review of the literature. The R-NEST model further emerged in the context of iteratively developing and adapting the digital storytelling intervention, informed by key relevant theories in education, namely reflection, narrative, engagement, sociality and technology. This framework was utilised, in three major design cycles, on a longitudinal basis over a period of four years, to explore systematically the development of a digital storytelling intervention with 308 pre-service teachers. The intervention was evaluated using a range of products from the design process, including the pre-service teachers' completed digital stories, their 'working portfolios', online discussion boards, a post digital storytelling questionnaire and qualitative feedback. The data derived from these evaluations were the subject of critical analysis, informed by the R-NEST design model. The contribution of the research to the understanding of digital storytelling as a technology-enhanced reflective process for pre-service teachers is significant and threefold. • Firstly, the research establishes systematically the potential of digital storytelling as a technology-enhanced reflective process for supporting and augmenting reflection in initial teacher education. • Secondly, through the detailed articulation of a longitudinal and repeatable DBR process, the research demonstrates practically how a digital storytelling intervention was designed and developed to enhance reflection in an initial teacher education program. • Thirdly, the study contributes to advancing design research, producing a design model: R-NEST, which can be adapted and adopted by other design researchers, educators and education technologists, in designing digital storytelling to enhance pre-service teachers' professional practice learning. Although beyond the immediate scope of this study, this robust R-NEST design model could be adapted to support the design of technology to enhance professional learning in other disciplines.

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