"The Benefits of Digital Storytelling for Students with Disabilities" Research Paper
 Competency 1: Synthesize Knowledge
  • Demonstrates ability to read and understand educational literature related to Educational Technology

  • Demonstrates ability to describe fundamental theories of human learning

  • Applies knowledge of human learning, diversity, and effective pedagogy to solution of problems

To demonstrate my competency in synthesizing knowledge, I ‘d like to share a research paper that I wrote for my course EDCI513 Foundations of Learning Design and Technology.  My research examined 21st Century classrooms and the effectiveness and versatility of using digital storytelling as “both an evaluative method or an instructional method [that] allows students to think and learn in familiar digital environments” (Donnoli, 2016.) However, the paper provided a deeper investigation and synthesis of the topic by discussing the benefits digital storytelling had to offer for students with disabilities, who often face difficulties developing concrete thoughts through more traditional learning and literacy methods.  

My conclusions were derived from the comprehension and analysis of educational journals and research related to Educational Technology.  I chose literature that focused on the benefits of Web 2.0 tools, connecting educational theories to modern day contexts, inquiry-oriented approaches versus textbook-based approaches, and, of course, effective use of digital storytelling in the classroom.  The outcome was a paper that “[surveyed] the many facets of digital storytelling, provide[d] an insight as to how students with learning disabilities could benefit from such a method,and suggest[ed] potential scenarios for future research” (Donnoli, 2016.). 

Through my investigations, I was able to relate these 21st Century methods of instruction to fundamental theories of human learning.  I suggested ways in which students with disabilities could better focus by using more constructivist approaches in the classroom.  Like most students, students with disabilities already have very well-developed schemas surrounding technology, social networks, and handheld devices. Incorporating learning content into these familiar technology-centered schemas would allow students to be more attune to learning new content that they feel they had control over and are more connected to through comfortable methods of thought expression.  

Digital storytelling as both an instructional method and form of creative thought expression builds upon more traditional methods of human learning and expression, appeals to a more diverse student population and proves to be an effective pedagogical solution to engage students in a narrative that they are more familiar with as digital natives.  As a video professional, digital native, and future educator, it’s great to know that digital literacy and communication is becoming more commonplace in the educational system.  Knowing that the divide between students in the classroom is closing by allowing all students to absorb and present information in unique ways is encouraging for me as a media professional because I’ll be able to share my existing knowledge-base with others to give them a new voice.


Donnoli, N. 2016. The benefits of digital storytelling for students with disabilities. Purdue University.