Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) 620

Digital Storytelling (Revision 2)


MAIS 620: Digital Storytelling explores a variety of storytelling frameworks. Stories—and the ability to tell them—are assuming a new primacy in contemporary culture. As the data glut of the World Wide Web threatens to drown out personal stories, social media is responding by providing a powerful forum for digital storytelling. Blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, Pinterest, Facebook, and are symptomatic of the popularization of personal narratives in digital media. Even as the nature of contemporary stories morph in their articulation into new forms as diverse as computer games, narrative medicine, and organizational storytelling, they remain as essential as breathing.

This course will include:

  • visual storytelling and photography
  • oral storytelling and alternate reality games
  • comics and the conjunction of image and text;
  • time-based storytelling in digital video
  • collaborative storytelling
  • space-based or environmental storytelling in online works, games and locative media

Students will learn the practice and theory of digital media production, including working with images, audio, and video.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • identify the differences between storytelling frameworks, including the conjunction of image and text and comics, visual storytelling and photography, oral storytelling and alternate reality games, and time-based versus space-based storytelling
  • understand the basic components of a story, and how images can be used to tell stories on their own and in conjunction with words
  • transform audiences by motivating them and galvanizing them into action
  • understand the role that memory plays in storytelling and how it contributes to its organic structure
  • understand narration, and how narrative structure and visual framing affect how a story is told and experienced
  • learn the importance of location within digital culture
  • understand the complexity of the concept of authorship, as well as what role collaboration plays in the creative act
  • understand the difference between influence and appropriation in creative practice and be able to identify the three types of remix
  • understand how the creative process adapts and reimagines connections and builds on work from the past
  • understand the difference between time- and space-based narrative and be able to create them
  • understand the dialectic between technology and storytelling
  • learn about gaming and interactivity, and explore real world applications for digital storytelling
  • craft excellent stories in a digital medium (including slideshows, comics, storyboards, and digital video).


To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60%.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
Online Participation 15%
Assignment 1 - Mini Slide Show 10%
Assignment 2 - Podcast 10%
Assignment 3 - Visual Story 10%
Assignment 4 - Storyboard 15%
Assignment 5 - Final Project 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for MAIS 620 include the items listed below.


Borras, Laura et al. Electronic Literature Collection, Volume Two. Free Online:

Duarte, Nancy, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Pp. 1-53. (eBook in library; Chapters 1 & 2).

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. (New York: William Morrow, 1994).

McGonigal, Jane. Reality is Broken. (New York: Penguin, 2011).

Madden, Matt. 99 Ways to Tell a Story. (New York: Penguin, 2005).


Marker, Chris (Director/Writer). La Jetée. (1962). Online.

Naim, Omar (Director). Final Cut. 2005.

Embedded Video

Moyers, Bill. Maya Angelou Interview. Creativity. 1982.

Wang, Wayne (Director). Smoke. 1995.

Wenders, Wim (Director). Wings of Desire. 1987.

Other Resources

Students will need access to a digital camera or smartphone (Android/iPhone/iPod or iPad would work) that can shoot both stills and video. Minimum of 5 megapixel quality. Students can access the e-Lab portfolio to create a professional portfolio of their work.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, July 7, 2017.

View previous syllabus