Digital Storytelling for 21st-Century Skills in Virtual Learning Environments


This article finds that the new virtual learning environments comprise more spaces and practices in which digital resources, tools, and applications are used. The article introduces how digital storytelling can create virtual learning environments when it is used for learning 21st-century skills and competencies needed in students’ future working life. The study describes how students (n = 319) in three countries and their teachers (n = 28) value digital storytelling and what they think students have learned. Their experiences are analyzed using a theoretical conceptualization of the global sharing pedagogy that sets categories of processes or tools as mediators: 1) learner-driven knowledge and skills creation, 2) collaboration, 3) networking, and 4) digital literacy. Analyses have been quantitative and qualitative. The article describes students’ experiences when they created their digital stories and how they engaged in learning. The major findings are that students enjoyed creating their stories, and they were very engaged in their work. They learned many 21st-century skills when creating their digital stories.

Share and Cite:

Niemi, H. , Harju, V. , Vivitsou, M. , Viitanen, K. , Multisilta, J. and Kuokkanen, A. (2014) Digital Storytelling for 21st-Century Skills in Virtual Learning Environments. Creative Education, 5, 657-671. doi: 10.4236/ce.2014.59078.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Bellanca, J., & Brandt, R. (2010). 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
[2] Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Herman, J., Raizen, S., Ripley, M., Miller-Ricci, M., & Rumble, M. (2012). Defining Twenty-First Century Skills. In P. Griffin, B. McGaw, & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. (pp. 17-66). Dordrecht: Springer.
[3] Cole, M., & Cigagas, X. E. (2010). Culture and Cognition. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of Cultural Developmental Science (pp. 127-142). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
[4] Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis. D. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Palo Alto, CA: Institute for the Future for University of Phoenix Research Institute.
[5] Derry, S. J., Pea, R. D., Barron, B., Engle, R. A., Erickson, F., Goldman, R. et al. (2010). Conducting Video Research in the Learning Sciences: Guidance on Selection, Analysis, Technology, and Ethics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19, 3-53.
[6] European Union (2006). Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. 2006/962/EC. Official Journal of the European Union. 30.12.2006.
[7] Griffin, P. (2013). The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATCS21STM). Presentation at TERA & PROMS Conference, Taiwan.
[8] Griffin, P., McGaw, B., & Care, E. (2012). The Changing Role of Education and Schools. In P. Griffin, B. McGaw, & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (pp. 1-16). Dordrecht, Germany: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
[9] Griffin, P., McGaw, B., & Care, E. (2013). Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. Dordrecht, Germany: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
[10] Hakkarainen, K., Paavola, S., Kangas, K., & Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, P. (2013). Sociocultural Perspectives on Collaborative Learning: Towards Collaborative Knowledge Creation. In C. E. Hmelo-Silver, A. M. O’Donnell, C. Chan, & C. A. Chinn (Eds.), The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning (pp. 57-73). New York, Routledge.
[11] Hull, L., Zacher, J., & Hibbert, L. (2009). Youth, Risk, and Equity in a Global World. Review of Research in Education, 33, 117-159.
[12] Hull, G., & Katz, M. L. (2006). Crafting an Agentive Self: Case Studies in Digital Storytelling. Research in the Teaching of English, 41, 43-81.
[13] Jenkins, H., et al. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. An Occasional Paper on Digital Media and Learning.
[14] Kearney, M. (2009). Towards a Learning Design for Student-Generated Digital Storytelling. Article Presented in Conference: The Future of Learning Design Conference. New South Wales, Australia: University of Wollongong.
[15] Lewis, S., Pea, R., & Rosen, J. (2010). Beyond Participation to Co-Creating of Meaning: Mobile Social Media in Generative Learning Communities. Social Science Information, 49, 351-369.
[16] Multisilta, J. (2012). Designing Learning Ecosystems for Mobile Social Media. In A. D. Olofsson, & J. O. Lindberg (Eds.), Informed Design of Educational Technologies in Higher Education (pp. 270-291). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
[17] Multisilta, J., & Maenpaa, M. (2008). Mobile Video Stories. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts (DIMEA ‘08) (pp. 401-406). New York: ACM.
[18] Multisilta, J., & Pea, R. (2012). Workshop on Social Mobile Video and Panoramic Video.
[19] Multisilta, J., Perttula, A., Suominen, M., & Koivisto, A. (2010). Mobile Video Sharing: Documentation Tools for Working Communities. In Proceedings of the 8th International Interactive Conference on Interactive TV & Video (pp. 31-38). New York: ACM.
[20] Multisilta J., & Suominen, M. (2009). MoViE: Mobile Video Experience. In A. Lugmayr, H. Franssila, O. Sotamaa, & J. Vanhala (Eds.), Proceedings of 13th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Everyday Life in the Ubiquitous Era (pp. 157-161). Tampere: Academic MindTrek.
[21] Multisilta, J., Suominen, M., & Ostman, S. (2012). A Platform for Mobile Social Media and Video Sharing. International Journal of Arts and Technology, 5, 53-72.
[22] Nevgi, A., Virtanen, P., & Niemi, H. (2006). Supporting Students to Develop Collaborative Learning Skills in TechnologyBased Environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37, 937-947.
[23] Niemi, H. (2002). Active Learning—A Cultural Change Needed in Teacher Education and Schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 763-780.
[24] Niemi, H., & Multisilta, J. (2014a). Digital Storytelling Promoting 21st Century Skills and Students’ Engagement. Technology, Pedagogy and Education.
[25] Niemi, H., & Multisilta, J. (2014b). Towards Global Sharing Pedagogy. In H. Niemi, J. Multisilta, & E. Lofstrom (Eds.), Crossing Boundaries for Learning—Through Technology and Human Efforts. Helsinki: Cicero Learning, University of Helsinki.
[26] Pea, R. D. (2004). The Social and Technological Dimensions of Scaffolding and Related Theoretical Concepts for Learning, Education, and Human Activity. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13, 423-451.
[27] Pea, R., & Lindgren, R. (2008). Video Collaboratories for Research and Education: An Analysis of Collaboration Design Patterns. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 1, 235-247.
[28] Pintrich, P. R., & McKeachie, W. J. (2000). A Framework for Conceptualizing Student Motivation and Self-Regulated Learning in the College Classroom. In P. R. Pintrich, & P. Ruohotie (Eds.), Conative Constructions and Self-Regulated Learning (pp. 31-50). Hameenlinna: RCVE.
[29] Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom. Theory into Practice, 47, 220-228.
[30] Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive Development in Social Context. New York: Oxford University Press.
[31] Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective Cognitive Responsibility for the Advancement of Knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.), Liberal Education in a Knowledge Society (pp. 67-98). Chicago, IL: Open Court.
[32] Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2003). Knowledge Building. In J. W. Guthrie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Education (2nd ed.) (pp. 1370-1373). New York: Macmillan Reference.
[33] Schleicher, A. (2012). Preparing Teachers and School Leaders for the 21st Century—Ministers and Union Leaders Meet on How to Turn Visions into Reality.
[34] Starke-Meyerring, D., Duin, A. H., & Palvetzian, T. (2007). Global Partnerships: Positioning Technical Communication Programs in the Context of Globalization. Technical Communication Quarterly, 16, 139-174.
[35] Starke-Meyerring, D., & Wilson, M. (2008). Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments: Visionary Partnerships, Policies, and Pedagogies. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
[36] Saljo, R. (2012). Schooling and Spaces for Learning: Cultural Dynamics and Student Participation and Agency. In E. Hjorne, G. van der Aalsvoort, & G. Abreu (Eds.), Learning, Social Interaction and Diversity: Exploring School Practices (pp. 9-14). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
[37] Taylor, L. & Parsons, J. (2011). Improving Student Engagement. Current Issues in Education, 14, Published Online.
[38] Tuomi, P., & Multisilta, J. (2010). MoViE: Experiences and Attitudes—Learning with a Mobile Social Video Application. Digital Culture & Education, 2, 165-189. 1024_tuomi_2010.pdf
[39] Tuomi, P., & Multisilta, J. (2012) Comparative Study on Use of Mobile Videos in Elementary and Middle School. International Journal of Computer Information Systems and Industrial Management Applications, 4, 255-266.
[40] Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society. (M. Cole, & V. John-Steiner, Eds.), Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
[41] Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic Inquiry: Towards a Socio-Cultural Practice and Theory of Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[42] Yang, Y. T. C., & Wu, W. C. I. (2012). Digital Storytelling for Enhancing Student Academic Achievement, Critical Thinking, and Learning Motivation: A Year-Long Experimental Study. Computers & Education, 59, 339-352.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.