J. Richardson

City University London (UNITED KINGDOM)
Digital storytelling can be a powerful method of communication and a valuable pedagogic approach (McLellan, 2007). When using this method for teaching, the subject matter is framed within a story, whilst digital tools provide the medium for presenting the story in a visual and immersive way. This approach can provide contextualised learning and gives students access to engaging and authentic content. In addition, digital stories are multi-sensory and involve a range of cognitive processes, allowing deeper understanding of problems and situations (Sadik, 2008). Many studies of the effectiveness of the use of narrative in teaching are from disciplines such as humanities, with fewer examples found from the sciences (Scandola & Fiorini, 2013). Given the challenges of student retention in engineering subjects, and the benefits of presenting learning in the context of real-life examples (Patterson et al, 2011), incorporating narrative as a learning approach can be of significant value in this area of higher education. This paper will outline how established and emerging technologies are being used to develop digital storytelling approaches in engineering subjects at City University London, to add essential context and bring the external world into both the classroom and online learning environments. It will summarise the key steps for developing successful narrative structures and share examples of the digital techniques that have been most effectively utilised. Examples provided will include the use of 360 degree photography to allow students to explore landscapes and environments, the combination of narrated videos, 3D scans and photos to tell the stories behind mechanical objects and the use of web conferencing to enable industry experts to tell their stories of real-world problem-solving. Seeking out scenarios where narrative pedagogies can be usefully brought into engineering teaching can provide contextualised learning, enhance student engagement and encourage deeper learning and recall. As this paper will demonstrate, digital tools such as 3D scanning, 360 degree photography, video and web conferencing provide a wide range of methods for educators to develop visual, creative and inspiring content and tell the stories behind the subject.

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[2] Patterson, E. A., Campbell, P. B., Busch-Vishniac, I., & Guillaume, D. W. (2011). The effect of context on student engagement in engineering. European Journal of Engineering Education, 36(3), 211-224.
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[4] Scandola, M. & Florini, P. (2013). Digital storytelling in teaching robotics basics. Themes in Science and Technology Education, 6(1), 49-49.