Digital storytelling is the creation of short (2-5 minutes), multimedia video using first person narrative (voice-over) paired with visuals (pictures, photos, drawings, and others) where people share aspects of their life story or something that has been significant in their lives. DSTs were originally applied for community development, artistic and therapeutic purposes, but have been adapted as an arts-based qualitative research method. Empatika facilitated DSTs are typically conducted in groups of around 8 people, led by 2-3 trained Empatika facilitators.
This visual approach is especially appropriate for use with marginalized groups, for sensitive issues and to gain deeper insights. In addition, it can help to personify insights that emerge during research. DST videos are not just communication products but are more importantly a creative process that enable a storyteller to open up and share deep, personal insights and important key moments in their life. The process of producing DSTs is done through an intensive workshop facilitated over 4-5 days. These stories provide powerful insights into people’s reality, their personal experiences of change and can provide useful windows on processes from the perspectives of beneficiaries, particularly as the DSTs are narrated in the first person and are the result of people’s own ideas.
At the end of workshops as part of the consent process, participants also choose how they want their videos to be shared (e.g. public; anonymous; in closed forums only), including the option to not have their video shared with others at all.
Empatika has conducted DST workshops both as primary research and as complementary pieces to other research. This has included looking to better understand some of the main challenges that students, parents, and teachers face; people’s experiences with assistance post-disaster; migrants’ experiences of the resettlement process; mother’s experiences raising their children in Papua and Aceh; children and adolescents’ experiences related to nutrition and physical activity; and parents and children’s experiences of air pollution from forest fires.