Capstone in Digital Storytelling

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Capstone in Digital Storytelling

COMM 6997 - 701 3 credits

Spring 2013 Tuesday 5:30PM-8:10PM

Instructor: Carole Burns

Office: 122 Johnston Hall

Phone: 288-3449

Office Hours: Mondays/Wednesdays noon – 4:00PM



In lieu of a textbook, please purchase a 500GB USB powered external hard drive.
In addition to there will be electronic reading and video posted on the D2L site.


This course will dive deep into the craft of digital storytelling. It is assumed that students have basic knowledge of still photo, video and audio skills. Knowledge of multimedia editing software is also an expectation of students in the program. If at any time you feel the need for more instruction in these two areas, refer to .


Digital Storytelling can take many forms from the most informal personal story to documentary style production. Working with a chosen topic you will develop five different stories using the following six story styles.

  • Mobile- a quick short story from a ‘man on the street’ standpoint

  • Short Topic – 1-3 minute narrative piece – from a third person point of view

  • Silent – 1-3 minute, instrumental/visual, (no narrative) piece

  • Interview – 3-5 minute marketing piece – from a sales or second person point of view
  • Personal – 3 minute story that has an emotional impact – first person point of view

  • Documentary – 10-30 minute – Informative documentary style – produced on DVD, compressed for YouTube


  • Discover the power of a strong personal story

  • Provide you with an understanding of the steps and procedures needed to create, design, organize, and post a story for a specific client and for a targeted audience.

  • Provide tools to critically examine and critique visual stories.

  • Develop a website that incorporates several forms of digital media, including text, photographs, and video

  • Expand your understanding of the use of digital storytelling in advertising, journalism, history and personal formats.

  • Expand your understanding of storytelling as a form of communication from practical and theoretical perspectives.

  • Develop an understanding of the different types of video equipment and supporting components (lights, audio) required to complete a successful and professional product.

  • Develop an understanding of the postproduction process.


This course will consist of lectures, class discussions, online video instruction, lab assignments, critiques; in-class presentations, and a completed prototype of a client/journalistic website.
Class time will be devoted to presenting story ideas, discovering the proper use of equipment, instruction on professional quality lighting and audio, developing storyboards and shooting schedules to fit the identified story style.
D2L will be utilized to share ideas and analyze story goals, share information, critique, and video instruction components.

The story presentations will allow students the opportunity to offer input on the storytelling process and assist with refining the content. Hands on class time will be provided for completion of digital projects. Student feedback will be required – creating a teamwork atmosphere and enabling class members to focus their stories down to the ‘true story with-in’.

Client sites are not required, but a way to utilize all five styles into one portfolio piece. Discussion on possible clients/focus will take place during the first class session.
Two types of sites are possible:

  • Resume site - provide a venue to showcase your background and experience.

  • Client site - give you the opportunity to interact with content with a specific purpose.


Your grade in this course will be based on your performance in class, on your presentation, and on your five projects.
Your websites will receive a grade based on effectiveness, to what degree they meet the intent of the site, viewer interest, appropriate organization and structure, creativity, technical mastery, and evident ability to work effectively with a client.
Your grade will also be based on participation: regular attendance, helping other students, locating and offering information about story design, and offering constructive criticism during critiques. You are encouraged to submit your stories to the student film festival, and will get extra credit upon proof of entry.
10% participation 10% digital storytelling journal (online D2L site)

10% in-class presentation 30% client/portfolio project

40% digital presentations

Software/Hardware Requirements

While Final Cut Pro X has been taught in the program, it is not a requirement for completion of projects.

The best camera (and software for that matter) for the project is what you have in front of you – what I mean by that is simply, the tool is not what I am hoping to teach in the course, but the content and the reason behind telling the stories.

Cameras will be available for checkout from the Wakerly Technology Training Center. You are welcome to use your own personal camera, given that it will provide you with the best quality project you can produce.

Graduate/Undergraduate Notice

Both graduate and undergraduate students can enroll in this course; however, to receive graduate credit, students must be enrolled in a graduate program at Marquette and must register for the class using the 5000-level course number. Graduate students fulfill all requirements expected of undergraduate students, but they must also do extra course work that demonstrates thinking at a higher conceptual level, greater ability to analyze and synthesize information, and a more advanced level of critical thinking.
Specifically, this course requires graduate students to demonstrate complete knowledge of the use of digital storytelling.
Graduate students will prepare a final analysis of digital storytelling. This analysis will include information in respect to the perspective audience; explain reasoning for method of delivery and topic area focus. Furthermore the paper should create a case review of why the particular form of media was chosen as the vehicle for each type of story (mobile, short, interview, personal and documentary).
The paper must include at least three scholarly references for each story type listed above.
Useful text for entrepreneurs:

Digital Storytelling:
Capturing Lives, Creating Community
by Joe Lambert
3rd Edition, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-61623-849-0

Available from - $35.00


Field Guide to Filmmaking

By Still Motion

Available from – Free Download + Apps!

Detailed outline of course






Jan 15

Know your voice

Introduction of Mobile Devices

-Choosing a Story

-Multimedia Storytelling

-Alternate Story Forms

-Challenges of Mobile Journalism


Online Tutorial:

Know video part 1 – 1st hour

Man on the street interview – 1-3 minute (short story)

First rough copy of Personal Story – 250 words (Send via D2L to class during winter break)

Reflection Statement – Dropbox D2l - 3 Over 1 Rule

Jan 22

Audience and Medium

Online Discussion topic – Why do we tell stories?

Lecture: Web 2.0
The plan – the use of storyboards during pre and post edit.
View Apollo 13 Video

The Apollo 13 Project
Online Tutorial:

Know video pt 1 – 2nd hour

Mobile Video – Short Story

Reflection Statement – Know Video Part 1 – 1st hour

Jan 29

Story Development

Online Discussion topic – Who is the Audience?

Questions of Storytelling

Apollo 13 Video (Short Topic, 1-3 minute – 3rd person point of view)

Apollo 13 Storyboard

Reflection Statement – Know video Part 1 – 2nd hour

Feb 5


Online discussion – Know Video part 1 – 2nd hour

Lecture: Composition

Silent Plan

  • Storyboard

  • Shoot list

  • Topic Research

Know Video Part 2 – Lighting

Interview topic proposal

Apollo 13 Video

2nd draft of personal story

Feb 12

Light Basics

Online discussion - Critique of Apollo 13 Video

Jon Lamb, IMC, Guest Speaker

Light plan
Silent video

Written Silent Plan

Reflection Paper – Know Video Part 2 - Lighting

Interview Topic Proposal

Feb 19

Audio Basics

Jon Pray, IMC, Guest Speaker

Interview Video

Silent Video

Reflection Paper – Light Basics

Feb 26

Photo Journalism

Silent Video Critique

Bill Frakes, Guest Speaker

Personal Story – Final Revision

Interview Video

Reflection Paper – Audio Basics






Mar 5

DSLR Intro

Online Discussion – Interview Critique

Chris Whitman, Guest Speaker

Personal Story Storyboard

Watch 3-5 of the Silence Speaks digital stories

DSLR Reflection

Mar 12

Spring Break

No Class!

Mar 19

Tell me a story

Review the Digital Storytelling Cookbook

Be prepared to discuss other social services opportunities for digital storytelling

Final Documentary Proposal

Personal Story Storyboard

Reflection – Silence Speaks, the power of the digital story

March 22

Open Lab

Online Discussion – the strength of digital stories

Personal Story Video – Open Lab

Final Documentary Storyboard/Shoot Schedule

Final Documentary Proposal Due

April 2

Personal Story

Online Discussion - Critique of two peer video

Video review in class

12 Tips to Make a Documentary

Documentary Project

Website layout

Personal Story Video Due

Final Documentary Storyboard/Shoot Schedule

April 9

Open Lab

Documentary Project work – Carole available for consultation/questions

Documentary Draft

Website Layout

April 16

Open Lab

Open Lab

Documentary Draft

April 25

Open Lab

Open Lab
Documentary Final
Final Cut Pro X Certification Exam – Retake

Documentary Final

May 7

Movie Time

Review of Documentaries & Websites

Documentary Final

Final Reflection

May 14


Review of Documentaries & Websites

Grad Students – Reflection Paper Due

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