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ISSN : 2092-674X (Print)
ISSN : 2092-6758 (Online)
Asia-Pacific Collaborative education Journal Vol.9 No.2 pp.1-10

Bringing Technology into the Classroom through Digital Storytelling

Krismiyati received her MA from University of Leeds, United Kingdom. Currently ,she is a faculty member of Information Technology Faculty, Satya Wacana Christian University
Received Date: April, 30, 2013, Revision received Date: September, 25, 2013, Accepted Date: October , 20, 2013


Maximizing students’ ability and potential in theteaching learning process will likely be the goal of ateacher. This will give the chance for the students toemploy all the skills and knowledge they have obtainedthroughout the learning process. One-way for utilizingthis idea is by implementing a particular method calleddigital storytelling. This paper tries to investigate theimpact of integrating technology in students’ learningprocess - especially English - using existing technology.It also investigates what the students get from theimplementation of digital storytelling in their learning.This employs a survey method to gather the informationfrom students before the implementation of digitalstorytelling. It involves 15 students taking English forSpecific Purposes at the Faculty of InformationTechnology, Satya Wacana Christian UniversitySalatiga. It employs practical implementation of digitalstorytelling to answer the two objectives set previously.The students involved in the study reported that it was agood way of implementing all the skills they hadlearned during the class. They needed to employ theirreading, speaking, and writing skills to carry out theirproject. They mentioned that it improved theirproductive skills in English and gave themopportunities to explore and try new applications inproducing the intended video. This method is a simpleway of integrating technology into classroom activitythat can maximize students’ possible potential todevelop. This also gives them a sense of enjoyment andsatisfaction as they have their end product that they canrefer to at any time



 Technology has been used either as an aid or as the main means of teaching and learning ranging from the simplest device, such as using a CD for listening, to involving students in interacting with the World Wide Web with the help of the Internet. The ability to maximize the existing media in teaching and learning activity will be a great help for students and teachers. It starts at elementary level and moves on to higher education level.

 Nowadays, students use technology in almost every aspect of their life, starting from using gadgets, social media, and computers to make use all of those media in their study life. Normally, in their studies students use technology and media to support their study, either as resources for their work or just to explore the world and to keep them updated with the latest information.

 This study takes place at Satya Wacana Christian University, more specificly at the Faculty of Information and Technology. Students involved in this study were second year students taking English for Specific Purposes after their first course in English language. It is a required course offered to the Information Technology students regardless of their major in the faculty. They have different English learning backgrounds from their high school majors or their English. As it happens in Indonesia, students generally take English for several years before university, at least from junior high school level; some of them might have studied English since elementary school level. There were 15 students involved in this study. Their existing level was intermediate level. These students used English passively in their daily life. They normally read materials written in English to support their study, because some teachers might assign them to read research articles in English in their content course. They also like to listen to English songs or just browse the Internet for any information they want which is sometimes written in English. In addition, they might use English to play games either on their desktops or online. They often have these games with instructions in English; it means that directly or indirectly they use English passively while they are playing these games.

 Apart from that, as they are Information Technology students they are familiar with many forms of technology, either the software or hardware. They deal with technology almost everyday. This is the reason why these students were involved in this study. They will be able to see and experience the use of technology integrated in the teaching and learning process in a way that is different from how they normally use the technology in their daily life. This study tries to gauge the impact of integrating technology in the English language learning process using what they have mastered so far in terms of technology. This also investigates what students gain from the implementation of digital storytelling in their English language learning. These objectives will be achieved through the method applied in this study and will be discussed in the method section of this study.

Literature Review

 This section tries to describe the theory and literature related to digital storytelling, technology in the classroom and teaching-learning activities.

Integrating Technology into the Classroom

 Instructional software such as drill and practice, tutorials, and educational games have been commonly used in the classroom teaching and learning process since the 1970s (Morrison & Lowther, 2004). Instructional software is often viewed as a means for teachers or instructors to deliver instruction in their teaching and learning activities in the classroom. The technology used in the classroom activities does not only refer to software but sometimes it might refer to simple technology such as overhead projectors, television, and computers accompanied by LCD projectors. These two types of technology have the same objective in the teaching and learning process; that is to facilitate the instructional activities or deliver the instruction itself (Morrison & Lowther, 2004).

 Computers that have been used in the classroom so far have many advantages for supporting students learning process either directly or indirectly. They might help students to improve their thinking processes. They may also function as devices aiding students to be much smarter in their learning process (Norman, 1993). These facts reveal that computers can play an important role in students’ learning process. They help facilitate teaching learning activities and act as a tool that helps students do their assignments; for example, drawing maps, recording their drill practice, writing up their papers etc. In addition, it helps students view information stored or processed in the computer in a new and different way (Morrison & Lowther, 2004).

 By using computers in the classroom, teachers can implement a student-centered learning process because students are indirectly led to do a design activity that will maximize their role as students. They could be actively engaged in the learning process. A good example of this view is that students are assigned to search information on a particular topic; they can use a database or Internet browsing facility and then arrange and analyze the information they obtain into an informative essay. By so doing, students will be more interested and enthusiastic in carrying out the assignment, as their role in this activity is of an active participant. They are the subjects that have to be active in the process and that leads to a particular form of results.

 Integrating any kind of technology around the students’ life, either the simplest one or the most advanced one, might create a different atmosphere to the students learning activity. Those students who are normally exposed to a traditional way of the teaching and learning process could experience a new way of learning. The technology may serve as tool to facilitate the teaching and learning activities, or as a tool to facilitate them in doing their assignments. In addition, technology may function as a resource for the learning process itself such as accessing information stored in the computer database or Internet that is accessed through computer.

Productive Skills

 In an English classroom setting, the desires to get all students actively participate in all planned activities could be found in every teacher’s mind. Normally, the teacher will try their best to design and plan activities which could stimulate and activate students’ skills, either receptive or productive skills. In order to achieve this goal, a proper method should be employed. Harmer maintains that the key to successful productive skills tasks rely on the way the teachers organize their response to the students work (Harmer, 2007) It implies that the factors determining whether or not a given productive skill task will succeed depend on the role of the teacher. It could be achieved by setting a methodological model that gives clear instruction on what the students should do and how the teachers gives feedback in which the students will be able to know how well they have done in the given task (Harmer, 2007).

 The two productive skills are speaking and writing. In an English classroom, these productive skills are very important without neglecting the receptive skills. In productive skills, students are encouraged to express their views and opinions about particular topics (Harmer, 2007). Students will have to make the communication goal they set to reach the intended audience, either the reader or the listener.

 As good speakers, students need to be able to convey their communication goal, which is delivering the message, to their audience effectively. An effective writer applies the same principle. Writers, regardless of whatever they write, have to convey the message to the readers so that they can absorb well what is being delivered to them.

Digital Storytelling

 Leng (2010) defines a digital story as a kind of short film combining digital images, either photographic or video, with a piece of narrated personal writing which is usually accompanied by musical or spoken soundtracks. It is a different way of telling a story using technology involving the personal touch of the maker. Digital storytelling has been implemented in classroom activities at different school level, ranging from elementary school to the higher education level. Leng (2010) started using digital storytelling in her classroom, bearing in mind that higher education assessment focuses more on competencies development. She also thinks that by implementing this method, using digital storytelling, it could build relationships and integrate students emotionally into the situations that they might deal with in their daily life.

 Another implementation of digital storytelling has been used from elementary school to high school since 1999 (Chase, 2010). Digital storytelling has been used to help teachers to improve students’ writing skills in their preparation for state exams. It is quite clear that digital storytelling could be used as a tool to maximizing students’ skills in a new way that most students enjoy as most students nowadays cannot be separated from technology.

 The use of digital images in the classroom may enable students to be readers and writers as they would be able to envision, understand and communicate meaning. It gives the chance for students to engage with the visual and printed text (Kajder & Swenson, 2004). This reflects students’ skills in reading and writing and will be activated alongside the fact that they need to employ their pronunciation skill in narrating their story. The personal touch is a distinguishing feature in digital storytelling. Besides, digital storytelling enables students to create a story which often has a compelling and interesting narrative with relatively low and simple technical effort (Botturi, Bramani & Corbino, 2012). It shows that the digital storytelling technique is suitable either for students or children of a more mature age.

 According to Young & Kajder (2009) in an English classroom students will learn best when they use various kinds of literacy to read and write in a new way, in this case using digital video. Moreover they maintain integrating images, sound and written text, as what is engaged in digital video story telling will enhance and accelerate students’ comprehension. It reveals that the role of images and written text could convey more meaning to the audience compared to not using them. Digital storytelling also gives the opportunity to deepen students’ understanding of the content they are trying to create. Moreover it could increase students’ skills in the fields of visual, sound and oral language, creativity and thinking (Mader, 2009).

 In short, digital storytelling could be seen as a new method for exploiting and maximizing students’ potential in sharpening their receptive and productive skills. When it is used properly, it could serve as a tool to achieve the set goal in the classroom setting. In line with that, it could be considered to be a student-centered approach as it requires students to actively engage in their participation and to produce the intended digital video as their way of implementing their composition skills in a more interesting way.


 This section discusses the elements of the method of the study such as the objectives, instruments used for data collection and participants involved in the study. It also describes the ethical consideration of this study.

 The main objectives of this study are laid out as follows:

 1. What is the impact of integrating technology in students’ learning process, especially English, using the existing technology?

 2. What do the students get from the implementation of digital storytelling in their learning?

 In order to achieve the objectives set, this study used a survey of the participants of the study, practical implementation evaluation and informal interviews and discussion. As mentioned previously, there were 15 students involved in the study. Those participants were registered in an ESP course at the Faculty of Information and Technology. They had different English language backgrounds either from their high school major or their English level. The survey was done before digital storytelling was implemented and was followed by the practical implementation. At the end of the course there was an evaluation of the implementation through informal interviews and a discussion involving all the participants and teacher. The digital storytelling itself was done through five meetings over five weeks. Each meeting took 100 minutes. The participants have to do each stage of the digital storytelling in the allocated time.


 The survey was done to gauge the situation and condition of the students before the implementation of the digital storytelling program. The reason why a questionnaire was used in this study was because it was impersonal (Walliman, 2001). There was no difference in the questions given and it was the same for each participant. The questions are open-ended ones; therefore it is entirely up to the participants how they are going to answer. They can give elaborative answers or just what they think is adequate. Moreover, the responses were completely anonymous, so this reflects the ethical side of collecting data for by not exposing the identity of the participants.

 The questionnaire given to the participants are as follows:

 · Have you ever used technology to help your learning? How?

 · Do you think integrating technology in your learning process is helpful? Why? Why not?

 · How do you learn English all this time?

 Those questions are intended to obtain information about the students and about students’ learning situation all this time.

Practical Implementation

 The next step in this study was the implementation of the digital storytelling itself. Firstly, students were given an explanation and example of digital storytelling and the steps that they had to undertake. Secondly, they started to write their storyboard to make the video by determining the topic they were interested in initially. Having completed their storyboard, students started to record their story using software or applications of their choice. Finally they showed their video in class and got feedback from their peers and teacher.

 At this stage, student worked individually. The teacher served as facilitator when the students needed help such as consulting about topic, finding appropriate vocabulary and about language matters. The students were expected to work independently and explore their creativity.

 The last stage of this study was the undertaking of informal interviews and discussions. They were done in the class in a relaxed atmosphere; students tried to express what they had gained from the implementation of digital storytelling. They also gave suggestion for further improvements in the future.

Ethical Consideration

 In conducting this study, all participants were ensured that their responses would be anonymous for the sake of confidentiality and no harm was caused to the participants. Before the survey was distributed to the participants, it was explained that they were not forced to participate in answering the survey given to them. It was entirely up to students’ whether or not they would participate. In addition they were assured that confidentiality was strictly implemented during the data collection and analysis. In presenting the analysis and result, there were not any names mentioned. Besides, they had already signed an informed consent form to participate in this study.


 This section describes the results obtained in the study. It also provides the answer to the research questions stated in the previous section.

 After the survey was administered, which was intended to gauge the condition of students before the implementation of the digital storytelling program, the following results were revealed.

 Most of the students involved in this study had used technology in their study in an indirect way. Normally they use a computer with an Internet connection to browse the information they might need to support their study. Some students explained that they used technology by using the applications found on their computer to do their assignments such as using the word processing program, data base, spread sheet and any other applications to generate programs for their study like programming language. As all of the participants are Information Technology students, they usually use computers in their study either for simple or complicated use involving any application support.

 Moving to the next question, which tries to see gauge participants’ opinion on whether or not integrating technology in their learning is helpful; these were their responses. Firstly, students thought that it was very helpful. It gives them the opportunity to relate to what they always use in their daily life, computers, to support their learning process, and it is more interesting to them. One student said “I cannot be separated from the computer, so I need to use it in almost everything I do in my study. Having technology integrated to my learning process is really helpful as it is more interesting to me compared to not using any kind of technology at all “(Student 1, translated by the author).

 Secondly, using technology in their learning process is helpful in terms of deepen their skill either in the technology area itself or in the subject they are learning. A student expressed that “using technology in my learning process encourages me more to explore what is being taught or assigned by the teacher. Therefore, it is very useful if the teacher can integrate technology into the teaching and learning process” (Student 4, translated by the author).

 It is clear that integrating technology into students’ learning process is helpful for them as it is more interesting and they are already familiar with the technology itself. In addition, it will not cause them any trouble if technology is implemented in their learning process. In line with that, students are more motivated in their learning process as they have the desire to explore and maximize the use of technology they have already mastered.

 The last question investigated during the survey is how the students learn English all this time. Most students mentioned that they learn English passively, by reading something on the Internet, trying to understand vocabulary they find in the games they play and learning with the teacher in the class. Moreover, they said that they use English in very small portions, even in an English classroom. They feel that they are usually reluctant when they have to activate their productive skills, either speaking or writing. One student said, “It is about the culture. When one of us tries to speak in English, others will see it as a show off action. To avoid that, we tend to keep it to ourselves” (Student 10, translated by the author).

 In general, they think that the safest way to learn English is by reading or listening to material in English. For productive skills, most students mention that they rarely practice to sharpen these skills. Although they have learned English, at least since they were around 10 years old, they often use English passively in their daily life.


 After the survey was conducted, the digital storytelling was implemented. Firstly students were given the opportunity to choose the topic for their digital storytelling project. The topic was related to the development of technology and their personal experience with any particular technology they were dealing with. Having chosen the topic, they proceeded to the next stage, which was writing the storyboard. They found pictures supporting their topic and continued writing what they were going to say related to the pictures they had chosen. Figure 1 is an example of a storyboard students created.

Figure 1. An Example of Storyboard produced by the students

 In writing the storyboard, students are expected to express their ideas in sentences that will be checked by the teacher and corrected. At this stage, students will get an idea on how they should write sentences correctly and know where to improve.

 With the storyboard produced by the students, they then move to the next stage i.e. practicing their pronunciation individually with the help of the teacher. Students had to read their corrected storyboard version in front of the teacher and check whether or not they have pronounced the words correctly. When the teacher found any mispronunciation then the teacher provided feedback so that the students would be able to know the correct pronunciation. It is useful when they have to record themselves using the storyboard later on.

 After the pronunciation practice was completed, students proceeded to the next stage, which was recording or making the video based on their storyboard. Students were free to choose what kind of application they were going to use. Based on the informal interviews and discussion carried out after the digital storytelling implementation, students admitted that most of them had to learn and explore a new application that they had never used before. They tried to find out what was the most suitable method for their digital storytelling. They mentioned that they used video editing applications such as Windows moviemaker, cool edit pro, Ulead studio, etc. The first thing they did was explore how they could use those applications before they continued to the recording process. After they were sure how they were going to use the application, they started the recording process. They were expected to produce a 2-4 minutes digital story. It sounds like a very short video or movie, but it took them at least 3 hours to produce. Their difficulty in making the video was that they had to re-record when they made mistakes either in their pronunciation or intonation. They shared that most of the time, when they were about to finish their recording suddenly, they made small mistakes and they had to do the recording process from the beginning. In making their video, they had to put the subtitles or text that they were reading. It was another job they have to deal with. They had to explore another feature that enabled them to put running text or subtitles for their short video. It had to be synchronized with what they were reading, in terms of the time. The example of digital storytelling, which is captured, is in Figure 2. It is just a print screen of how the digital storytelling looks.

Figure 2. An Example of how digital storytelling looks

 The informal interview and discussion was done after the digital storytelling was shown in the classroom revealed the following findings. They are as follows:

 1. Students felt that they were more challenged with this project, it demanded that they explore their ability not only in terms of language skills but also the technology skills that they had.

 2. It gave more opportunity to practice their pronunciation. They set a high standard for themselves that they had to give their best because the end product – the videowould last forever for them and their friends involved in the study who were going to watch it. In this case, they voluntarily dedicate more time to deliver their storyboard orally to produce their intended video.

 3. They felt that doing the digital storytelling project was more effective for them to sharpen their productive skills and they spent more time to prepare and produce the video. An interesting comment that they made was that they admitted that they learned and prepared more in doing this project than preparing for a test when they have a test.

 4. Students felt that it was an interesting way of integrating technology into their language learning. They thought it is more effective compared to having a written test. With the digital storytelling project, they learned and explored a lot. In addition they prepared themselves two to three times as much compared to their test or exam preparation.


 To sum up, this study has tried to answer a set of study objectives. The first objective was to investigating the impact of integrating technology in students’ English learning process, using existing technology. The results were that it gave a kind of motivation that they would not get if they did not use technology in the English learning process. It was observed that students spent more time practicing their productive skills, especially pronunciation and oral competence, to produce a good video.

 Apart from that, students were motivated to learn and explore new application voluntarily. They tried to maximize the features they found in the application so that they could make good videos that they thought would last forever as they were going to keep them. The second objective was to see what students gained from the implementation of digital storytelling. Despite the fact that they practiced their productive skills more, students thought that digital storytelling was a more effective way of learning compared to having an examination or test. They mentioned that when they had an exam or a test, that they did not do as much preparation compared with the digital storytelling project. Students had to have thorough preparation either with technical or non -technical issues. Otherwise they would not be able to produce a good digital storytelling video. They felt that their peers’ assumptions or opinions on the videos mattered to them. Therefore, they tried their best to produce the video as best as they could. Integrating technology into language learning benefited them a lot.


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