Authentic learning and digital storytelling: a case study in Industrial Design

This is the presentation Veronica Barnes and myself gave at the DDR conference, which took place here at CPUT from the 4th-5th of September 2012.

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Abstract: Plagiarism is one of the major challenges in undergraduate students’ written assignments. Against a background of general under preparedness of students entering higher education, poor academic literacy levels, limited knowledge about plagiarism and an increasing affinity among students towards visual learning resources, this paper reports on a research study that investigated the potential of digital storytelling as an alternative assessment method in a first year Industrial Design course, at a University of Technology, South Africa. In this course, Technology 1, digital storytelling was used for student assessment instead of a paper-based essay. Digital stories are usually short movie clips, created with off-the-shelf equipment and techniques, combining text, images, videos, music and narration. Drawing from the principles of authentic learning, the researchers investigated benefits and challenges of using digital stories as alternative assessment method. Qualitative methods of collecting data were used, which included focus group interviews with the students and in-depth interviews with lecturers. Findings of the study showed that digital storytelling promoted authentic learning, which led to high levels of student engagement with their studies and hence meaningful understanding of the subject matter. However, findings also revealed the importance of providing support to students in developing a high quality, polished end product.  More research is needed to explore the potential of transferring this highly independent, student-led project into other disciplines.

Keywords: digital storytelling, authentic learning, assessment methods, student engagement, industrial design

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