Digital video storytelling: how can we take advantage of this technique to learn and teach?


The Short Celts already said it: “ Tell me a story and you will see how happy I am ”. The ancient human interest in telling and listening to stories has become a powerful and popular marketing tool (with the modern anglicism of storytelling ) in the business world, due to its ability to capture the public’s attention.

Surely we all remember an advertising campaign that tells the story of a family vacation, a trip to a paradisiacal destination or the adventure lived with a certain toy.

But storytelling is not only for commercial purposes, it can also become a transformative technique in other areas. In the field of teaching-learning, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness because, as with other methodologies such as gamification , it allows working in a fun, attractive and contextualized way.

Storytelling in the classroom

Telling stories means transforming the contents or ideas to be transmitted into a narrative –with an approach, middle and end– in which ideas, beliefs or personal experiences can be incorporated that will evoke emotions and feelings in the audience to which they are told.

It is about going beyond the traditional PowerPoint presentation , in which we provide information in slides, and trying to bring what we have to tell to our personal terrain, be it to classmates or another type of audience.

This technique can be applied at different educational levels, including higher education. It can be asked of the students or it can also be put into practice by the teachers themselves. It can also be used to transmit ideas or proposals in the work environment or in talks or presentations.

Narration in accounting

Let’s imagine that we are teachers in an English class for specific purposes and we want to work on the acquisition of terminology related to the field of forensic accounting, which evaluates the economic information of a company or institution to detect irregularities or criminal behavior.

To do this, we could distribute texts with the use of that terminology in real texts, show videos in which that vocabulary is used or even show newspaper clippings in which students can see how said terminology is used by professionals in the field of media. specialized communication.

In our English for Specific Purposes classes we have been able to verify that this video digital storytelling technique helps students apply subject-specific vocabulary in contexts that go beyond the classroom.

When having to create a story, framed within a theme such as finance in which they use the terminology that has been taught in the classroom, they must work on a script and develop their creativity to demonstrate that they have understood the concepts.

This technique has also allowed us to verify that students, over time, more easily remember the contents and vocabulary.

A detective movie

An example of this could be that the students become investigators who analyze the accounts of a company to find out if any crime of fraud has been committed. To do this, they can take as inspiration a series or movie that they like and dress up as their characters. For the dialogues, they will include the terminology that they must work on in the subject, but creating a story that motivates them and that captures the attention of the rest of their classmates.

It is about students thinking about how to include such terminology in an invented and narrated story. This video will help you learn more about a certain topic and surely understand what complex terms like “corporate crime” or “embezzlement” mean, since they have been included in a context that has captured your attention.

Not just retain information

Apart from favoring the retention of information by being presented in an attractive way, storytelling encourages:

  1. The development of research techniques to access different resources. We will have to select the resources that allow us to obtain specific information on the area in which we have to work.
  2. The improvement of communication skills, when needing to express different ideas with our own words and not follow the patterned discourse of a traditional presentation.
  3. The increase in motivation. Our stories will be unique, they will include personal interests and our own motivations.

The digital storyteller: tools

The numerous virtual tools that we have today for creating animations, video editing, subtitles, music, etc. have allowed storytelling or narration to evolve into its digital version.

In these videos, we can be the protagonists ourselves or develop animations.

Here are some of the most popular ones or the ones we think will help tell the best stories:

Canva : helps us create videos from templates and assemble stories thanks to the multitude of images, sounds, text and graphic elements that are included.

OBS Studio – A free and open source tool for recording and live streaming media, with many customization options.

CapCut : also offers a wide range of editing tools and functions (sound effects, adding music, visual effects and applying filters, among others). Its intuitive user interface and ability to export high-quality videos make it a perfect storytelling tool.

Flexclip – One of the easiest and most versatile. It allows any user, regardless of skill level, to edit video over the Internet. It also offers a wide range of templates and resources that will help us create high-quality videos in a very short time and with little effort.

Becoming a storyteller will allow us to apply what we have learned and create excellent stories that we can be proud of.

The final has come, this story has ended.

Author Bios: Elena Mayor Peñalver is a University Professor of English Philology at the University of Alcalá and Alexandra Santamaria Urbietais a Senior lecturer at UNIR – International University of La Rioja