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Ohio University Libraries

Digital Storytelling Sampler

Peruse a sampling of digital storytelling tools, discussed and reviewed by Libraries staff

What is digital storytelling?

Digital storytelling is a lot like what it sounds like! It's telling narratives using digital means--whether it's textual, image-based, or multimedia. Despite that simple explanation, though, actually embarking on a digital storytelling project isn't always so straightforward. In addition to learning how to be a deft storyteller (in the medium of your choice), the digital brings with it tools to learn and to weigh against each other, copyright issues to consider, research skills to build to support your project, and a sense of awareness and empathy to tell your story inclusively (especially when working with primary sources). 

Each page in this guide with offer you a perspective on one popular digital storytelling tool. While many of these tools have robust how-to guides and comprehensive literature online to get you started, the goal of this guide is to provide more of a qualitative overview that breaks down what these tools are, what they offer (and don't), and what makes them different from other tools that might appear to serve a similar purpose. That being said, we will also provide as many links to those brass-tacks guides and manuals so that you can go from brainstorming to executing.

A note on terms

For each tool, we'll be discussing four primary components to consider when selecting and brainstorming around a tool. These are:

  • Words: As any word processor user knows, there's a difference between a basic notepad application and a tool that allows for sophisticated formatting, editing, and so on. When we talk about words, we're assessing what these tools do with words. What those words are, of course, is up to you.
  • Media: While a traditional paper allows for a static image and caption, one of the perks of digital storytelling is that media (images, sound, and multimedia) can come to the fore. In discussing media, we consider how customizable and central media is to the tool's output.
  • Data: Again, digital storytelling allows you to create dynamic projects--however, the data and literacy that goes into unleashing that potential can be daunting. In considering data, what level of proficiency is needed? Can it be scaled up or down? How does the tool handle data and metadata and how important is it?
  • Structure: Particularly for semantic web applications, to what extent and how can you shape the structure and metadata of your project? Are you bound to a single page, or can you create a suite of content with complex relationships?

More tools to explore

Timeline JS

A web-based tool that generates interactive timelines from data provided in a Google spreadsheet. Timelines can display a variety of media. Results are shared via a URL link or embed code.

TimeMapper

Similar to the aforementioned Timeline JS tool, TimeMapper uses data provided in spreadsheets to generate timelines, maps, or a combination of the two.

Exhibit

Create a guided tour of images accompanied by text in an interactive viewer that supports panning and zooming. Images must be provided via IIIF, a standard adopted by many institutions with digital collections, including Ohio University’s Digital Archives.

Omeka

Digital collection and exhibit publishing platform with a range of hosting and feature options depending on your project needs. Omeka.net offers a free trial (no expiration) with limited plug-ins and storage.

CollectionBuilder

Digital collection and exhibit publishing platform with metadata-based visualizations such as maps, timelines, and word clouds. A well-documented GitHub Pages template provides detailed instruction for creating a free, hosted instance.

Reclaim Hosting

A low-cost hosting service that caters to the education sector.

Anchor

Free podcast creation platform with beginner-friendly tools for recording, editing, and publishing.