Mobile Digital Storytelling

In this section of Maghrebi Voices, I document the creation of a mobile digital storytelling lab (and its vicissitudes).  As more scholars and activists turn to participatory media—helping various groups come together to tell their own stories—it seems important to share different approaches to this work, along with our challenges, successes, and failures.  After a brief summary of digital storytelling and the practitioners whose work informs mine, I’ll describe my goals for the mobile storytelling lab; the hardware and software I purchased; the ways I tried to structure the workshops; and the lessons learned over the course of the project.

Digital Storytelling
Digital storytelling as a community media movement emphasizes group process: stressing facilitation rather than teaching, tapping the wisdom of the group, empowering participants to help and teach one another, modeling deep and empathic listening, and using the constraints of the form to focus individual voices.  This group process makes digital storytelling a powerful tool for community building.  The stories produced often articulate deeply held values and individual triumph over adversity; they make vivid the lived experience of diverse storytellers.  Together, the stories and the process of producing them typically strengthen community and lead to deep reflective learning.

My understanding of digital storytelling as a tool for community building comes primarily from The Center for Digital Storytelling (  Over several decades, The Center for Digital Storytelling has developed a fabulous structure for facilitating both the production of individual digital stories and a supportive community among the storytellers.  This work is at the heart of my own efforts.

Ruben Puentadora’s presentation about “Digital Storytelling on the go” (available on his website at helped me think about apps that might facilitate this work; I’ve also drawn slides about visual composition directly from Dr. Puentadora’s presentation and used them in my own teaching.

The Mobile Digital Storytelling Lab: Goals and Values
This lab should be designed to emphasize process: that process should empower storytellers by building a supportive community, teaching reflective prose (or verbal composition), and respecting the rights of storytellers.

This lab should facilitate production of digital stories featuring visual images and voiceover working together.

This lab should be mobile and economical, allowing facilitators to bring its resources into underserved communities.

Sub-topics under this heading in the menu line (above) should take you to a more detailed account of each topic:

Hardware (and overall budget)
Software (apps)
Streamlined workshops: presentations (1 & 2) and commentary
Problems and troubleshooting