Digital Storytelling Tools

Digital storytelling refers to a short form of digital film-making. In the classroom, it is a powerful tool to encourage students to "explain what they know" about a subject. The possibilities are endless: a demonstration of a math theorem, a strategic analysis of World War II tactics, a personal narrative about growing up in Jefferson County, Tennessee, etc.

Educators might consider using digital storytelling in the classroom for a project, an exam, or a quiz. If implemented well, digital storytelling encourages higher level critical thinking skills as students must use all aspects of Bloom's Taxonomy to master the project.

Check out this in-depth description from the University of Houston's College of Education to learn more about its applicability in the classroom. Also, be sure to check out examples of student work to inspire your own projects.

If you wish to work exclusively with iPads, a site called Digital Storytelling with the iPad is a great site full of apps and app tutorials.

A common question associated with digital storytelling is: "how do I grade this?" "Teacher-preneur" Kathy Schrock has a webpage full of rubrics to help. Additionally, RubiStar features many pre-made rubrics submitted by fellow educators.

Last, we selected some of our favorite digital storytelling tools to include on this page. Most of the resources are free to use; some, however, require a paid subscription. We have tried to point out the sites which require a subscription in the descriptions.

Have a look for yourself:

100 Digital Storytelling Tools for Your Digital Selves + Natives (Part 1) is an outstanding blog post linking to several potential digital storytelling tools. It is an older post (from 2009), and some links may not lead to the tool.

Animoto - A slideshow maker that allows users of all ages to generate movie-like slideshows with eye-popping animation and music. It’s customizable and very easy to learn. Simply upload your photographs, add some text boxes, and pick a song from the Animoto catalog (or upload one of your own).

Comic Creator - From Read-Write-Think. Students can use this site to create comic strips to tell stories. A need alternative to writing short essays or simply to allow students to show what they know about a subject.

Cube Creator - From Read-Write-Think. This is a great electronic resource to allow students to organize ideas about what they have read in a novel, short story, or non-fiction selection before they begin a writing project.

Flixtime - A video-making web app that will take your pictures and effectively creates a “flix in a flash”, as its motto says. A lot like Animoto, Flixtime creates digital storytelling videos from images and music.

Haiku Deck (iTunes)- Registration is free; buy the app on iTunes to use it on an iPad. A bit like Animoto, this resource creates beautiful, image-heavy presentations in a snap. Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides to make the images more pronounced.

I Tell a Story (iTunes) is an excellent, cheap app for digital storytelling. A user can upload a photo and then record their voice narrating a story.

JellyCam - A free program for creating stop motion movies. - Turn your links into magazines, tweets, widgets and RSS feeds.

Prezi - A cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. Say goodbye to PowerPoint and Keynote presentations and hello to Prezi. - A social media tool that allows students to "curate" or assemble content on certain topics and create a magazine-style presentation.

Scratch - MIT’s Scratch allows you to create and share your own interactive stories, games, music, and art.

ToonDoo Spaces - A pay site with a 15-day free trial. Part of the very popular cartoon-making site, ToonDoo Spaces allows teachers to set up private accounts for their classroom in which students can generate cartoons to explain concepts.

Vocaroo - Record and send messages online. A fairly simplistic site, but it could easily be used with assignments that require verbalized reflections or explanations.

VoiceThread - Now a pay site (after being free for several years), the site’s creators say it best: “A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice with a microphone or telephone, text, audio file, or video via a webcam.” Create group conversations, then share them.

WeVideo- A pay site with a free trial. This is an online platform for collaborative video production in the cloud. We connect your web editing and your mobile device camera - and we enable you to tell your stories together with your friends. Any browser works - don’t worry about installation, software downloads and updates - all your files and edits are safely stored and accessible online.

Zoho Show - An online tool for creating, editing and sharing presentations. You can use photographs, clip art, text, audio/video, and much more to make powerful presentations for the classroom.

Please report broken or dead links to cmitchell1(at)