Digital Storytelling in the Midst of a Pandemic


Slide from Lydia telling Martin's story.

Slide from Jesse telling Patrick's story.

Slide from Zach telling Qui's story.

Slide from Hannah telling Sarah's story.

Level: ,
Duration: 1 month
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Project Brief

This Human Centered Design class was taught for the first time during the spring 2020 semester. The class was a mix of BFA art majors, several BS visual arts majors, and one lone English major. Originally the Digital Storytelling project was to be a collaborative project with an interactive design class. The Human Centered Design class would contribute the art and words and the interactive class would create simple 2-d animations of the stories. But when that class was canceled at the start of the semester I still wanted to try out the idea with a little less interactive design.

This project was given to the class on their return from an extended spring break because of Covid-19. This group in the first half of the semester had really bonded, more so than almost any other class I have ever taught. So when the semester started again, I knew they would need a project that would get them interested in what was going on around them and have an avenue to discuss the good and the bad of this pandemic with each other.

I wanted to get them talking and interviewing each other about the affect Covid-19 was having on them, their work, their social life, their family life, etc. The class of 20 was divided into five groups of four. Each person in the group was been given a number, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The group interviewed each other in this order. Person 1 interviews 2. Person 2 interviews 3. Person 3 interviews 4. Person 4 interviews 1. Within each group they decided how to get together online and interview each other. To get them started I suggested some starter questions. I am . . ., I worry . . ., I want . . . , I hope . . ., etc.

Learning Objectives

  • Talk and interview your assigned person about the affect Covid-19 is having on them, their work, their social life, their family life, etc.
  • After interview write up your notes and share with group for grammar, typos, thoughts and ideas.
  • Use storyboards to layout their story.
  • Use photos collected from your assigned person, interviewer illustrated slides or animation to tell the story.
  • Use PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides to create their story. The story is to be at least 15 slides. One must introduce the storyteller. One must introduce the interviewee.


Students made one slide show for their assigned persons story. They were shared with the class the last two days of the semester and then deposited in a D2L Dropbox.


  • Talked about interviewing styles and how to get someone to open up and answer your questions.
  • Reviewed storyboarding and emailed them a template they could use.
  • On occasion answered questions about PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides.


After the extended spring 2020 break the whole class was conducted on Zoom. The majority of the class liked using that meeting software. The Breakout Rooms were a hit. The whole class had access to PowerPoint through their Microsoft accounts at MTSU but some preferred Keynote or Google Slides.

Almost the entire class had been laid off from whatever job they had and in their discussions I heard about several students running low on food. If this had been an on campus class I may not have been aware of that need. I was able to find out that the Student Food Pantry on campus was still open for those in need and let them know where it was.

The hardest discussions were who had fears of their parents working in the health field, especially one whose mom is a nurse at a nursing home and her lack of PPE. One student’s aunt in Chicago contracted Covid-19 and died during this project.

For this time and place, this was an appropriate project for this class. It gave them an outlet for what was going on around them and a safe place to talk through a lot of issues and fears.

Next time I would like to do this project with an interactive class to see what can be created with that element thrown in.

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