Examining and expanding digital storytelling

The Helsinki Summer School “21st-century Digital Storytelling: New Media, Technology & Frames of Reality” was co-ordinated by CICERO Learning Network at the Faculty of Educational Sciences (FES). The School hosted 12 participants from overseas, with a background in the media, journalism and education.

The teaching plan spanned across three weeks and combined top-class lectures, workshops and on-site visits to the Playful Learning Center (FES) and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, to present participants with multimodal, arts&media-based experiences and live-action learning. This summer, the course welcomed friends and colleagues, scholars-researchers from the Faculty of Educational Sciences and the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, and the School of Science, Aalto University. Our guests shared their expertise and insights from empirical research along with epistemologies and methodologies that intersect with technology and narrative storytelling.

Opening up the School days early August, Prof. Hannele Niemi talked about the story of digital storytelling in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, its main objectives and findings through time from research at the national & international level. Dr Sara Sintonen, Senior University Lecturer (HY), presented  dynamic literacy and multimodal texts, and how they can enrich the learning environment by captivating students’ and teachers’ imagination and trigger storytelling action. Dr Ari Korhonen, Senior University Lecturer, School of Science (Aalto) presented empirical studies and findings from integrating narrative digital storytelling in Computer Science Education. Dr Antti Rajala, Post-doctoral Researcher (HY) tackled the area of visuality with a talk that focused on ethnographic methods aimed at understanding compassion in early childhood education. Dr Jonna Kangas, University Lecturer (HY), presented research findings on the study of playfulness, participation and ethics in storytelling dialogues, while later introduced the participants to the magic of playful storytelling, in the afternoon hours. Dr Sari Ylinen, Docent at HY brought into stage elements from brain research with a talk on digital and speech technology and how these relate with language learning. Finally, Post-doctoral Researchers (HY) Dr Laura Sibinescu & Dr Marianna Vivitsou co-organized a dynamic workshop aiming to deconstruct Web-based texts to lead to a deeper understanding of how AI/Human authorship works. As part of the interdisciplinary character of the School, the participants attended a one-day conference on Intercultural communication education, organised by Prof. Fred Dervin & the TENSION research group at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. CICERO Director, Dr Mari Tervaniemi visited the School, spent time and exchanged views with the participants, while CICERO sponsored both the Kiasma visit and the farewell lunch.

The participants enjoyed the multi-dimensional experience and appreciated the profound approach taken to storytelling grounded on the socially-based view of technology, metaphorical theory, narrative theory and discourse analysis. It was reported that “learning about how media is used to influence and educate the [public] has been the best …”, and that “exploring out of [a] comfort zone on certain ideas has been an enlightening experience”. Also, pacing and balance of activities interchanging lectures and group work worked well and helped to “broaden [my] perspective”, as one participant said. It was probably a blend of all these elements that led one participant to the conclusion that one most important aspect in the course was “Freedom!” and that the Summer School was a “True School”!

Principal organizers
Dr Hannele Niemi, Professor of Education
Dr Mari Tervaniemi, CICERO Learning Network Director
Dr Marianna Vivitsou, Post-doctoral researcher