21st-Century Digital Storytelling: The New Media, Technology and Frames of Reality

Helsinki Summer School 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kindly note that Helsinki Summer School 2021 will not be arranged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


International students at doctoral or Master’s level from the educational sciences, the social sciences, the media and communication studies who are interested to integrate multiple modalities and the affordances of representation into their studies and work.


As information keeps over-flooding our screens and daily lives, the need to read and write the Web with a critical eye and responsibility has become more essential than ever before. The ways in which the new (social) media frame reality and communication need, therefore, to be unpacked. Toward this end, the course comes to explore Web-based authorship and readership and offer ways to measure the credibility of media texts, using metaphors and narratives as tools and methods of analysis.


Lectures, workshops and seminars are delivered by national and international experts.


The participants will be able to:

  • Develop a critical insight into contemporary Web-based and social media narratives
  • Identify and discuss metaphors emerging from discourses online
  • Integrate a theoretically-based, contextualised use of digital storytelling in teaching and research
  • Use the narrative approach to synthesise a digital story
  • Apply the metaphorical thinking in their own work


The course consists of lectures, workshops and seminars led by national and international experts. In addition, the students participate in extensive and intensive group work in small groups where they analyse and interpret data using research methods introduced in the class sessions. The students will also take part in visits to arts&media-based spaces in the Helsinki Metropolitan Region for live-action data gathering for digital storytelling. Also, they will apply audiovisual, written & oral modes, digital methods, tools & software to tell their own stories on a major theme (such as environmental sustainability, arts-based education, relationships at the workplace/school, 21st-century school, curricula and pedagogy and possibly others).


For successful course completion, participants are required to attend class sessions, contribute to group work and discussions, present their work in seminars and submit a final assignment with two parts, a manuscript & a digital story.



City Centre Campus

Preliminary Course Syllabus
Focus areas (where lectures are framed and built on):
a. Digital storytelling as a 21st century metaphor
From metaphors in language to metaphors in thought & in communication

  • What is a metaphor? Why is it important to understand metaphors in education?
  • Basic metaphors in education: organization, purpose, time & action
  • The metaphor of digitalization in education: perspectives and consequences
  • 21st century metaphors & teaching with digital technologies: design & visibility & voice
  • The case of digital storytelling: as documentation, testimony & deliberation
  • The case of digital storytelling: as participatory research

b. The narrative element in telling digital stories
Qualitative interpretive methods & multimodal approaches to research

  • Framing & metaphors in social media practices
  • Multimodal social semiotics as method to (de)construct meaning
  • Interviewing as technique for recursive research practices

c. The socio-technical agents in digital storytelling
Social media tools, functions & genres: dealing with dis-information

  • Networked, do-it-yourself news production & sharing (‘networked journalism’)
  • Tools, affordances & modalities
    • ‘Reading’ the web critically
    • ‘Writing’ the web responsibly

d. Social media literacies in the 21st century: teaching & learning in the post-truth world
The teacher / professional, the (classroom) media event & the convergence of modalities
Structuring & problematizing the process

  • Collaborative work using digital technologies

Student/participant engagement: initiative of participation & sharing

  • Sustaining the dialogue with peers and material resources
  • Social networking and the use of digital technology in the identity building process

e. Digital storytelling for empowerment: innovation, voice & ethics
Wrapping up the course

These sessions are more practical and link with the theoretical parts introduced in the lectures

Participants present their own work

Teaching part
Lectures in the course aim for an interdisciplinary approach and discuss the different ways that the use of technology and metaphors on the Web and the new (social) media frame reality.

Guest speakers, lectures and themes TBA.


Course readings include journal articles from international peer-reviewed journals that will be distributed on Moodle along with other material (presentation slides, newspaper & blog articles, etc.). Further readings will be accessed on the basis of the participants' specific research/work interests and the needs of course work.