Digital Storytelling


Silver stories

Silver Stories (2013-2015) brought digital storytelling to community groups and elderly people.

Silver Stories was an action research partnership spanning nine organisations across six countries. Its programme used digital storytelling as a means to:-

  • enhance the education and training of health and social care professionals,
  • collect and evaluate stories told by marginalized people across Europe, and
  • develop the understanding of digital storytelling as a form of oral history and identity in the age of multimedia.

Silver Stories set out to train professionals working in health, social care and related support services in the use of digital storytelling as a means to integrate ICT into everyday working practice. Our object was to train 180 professionals working with older people and community groups and to run 40 training workshops. During the two operational years the partners ran 69 workshops with 30 taking place work for older citizens and 39 taking place in community settings, a total of 675 people participating in workshops.

Silver Stories created new learning material for the training of professional working with Digital Storytelling in hard to reach settings. This included a bespoke Guide to Digital Storytelling, new course materials and specific modules for health and social care professionals working with older people. Research papers have been presented at conferences across and papers have been published. An exhibition of stories made by the partners has been shown in Brighton and Portugal; it will tour to other partner countries in 2016.

Primary team:

Mark Dunford, Principal Investigator  |  Sarah Macnee, Project Manager |  Isobel Creed, Research Officer

About the Silver Stories digital storytelling project

Silver Stories flowed from an earlier Action Research project called EXTENDING CREATIVE PRACTICE (2010-2012) which demonstrated the efficacy of digital storytelling as means to engage older people and marginalised groups in the use of ICT. SILVER STORIES extended this research into new areas by working with professionals and providing a greater emphasis on the stories told.

Our research activity aimed to:

  • Adapt and transfer learning methods from EXTENDING CREATIVE PRACTICE across the whole partnership and extend it to two new countries and, provide Vocational Education and Training (VET) for a new target professional group – i.e. trainers and employees working in the caring professions across the whole partnership.
  • Establish a means for Digital Storytelling to be incorporated into the on-going training of health and care professionals in all the partner countries.
  • Research the use of digital storytelling by older people to gain a clearer understanding of why people tell specific stories
  • Investigate the scope for developing a systematic approach to the collection of Digital Stories

The partnership included organisations with expertise in Digital Storytelling (Digitales, Digital Story Lab, Mitra, Trapezio, University of Brighton), provision of vocational training for targeted professionals (University of Brighton, Leiria, Laurea and the Progress Foundation), evaluation (CUCR) and research (University of Brighton, DigiTales). It combined the skills, experience and knowledge needed to develop the vocational use of Digital Storytelling in the caring professions. This was supplemented by long standing working relationships and a successful track record in the delivery of pan European research projects. The project’s legacy can be seen in the range of activity happening across – and beyond – the partner countries.


Tools of digital storytelling, a storyboard of squares and a mobile device and writing or drawing materials

Silver Stories connected practice and professional training to research through a series of interventions. The foundation of the research was a Needs Analysis. This provides a background to digital storytelling work that has taken place in higher education settings, with a particular focus on working with older people.  The report draws upon interviews with partners and goes further afield to illustrate digital storytelling interventions both in Higher Education settings and in community settings, in which the method has been used with older people, or with students who are training to work with older people in health or social work settings.

Each partner had a specific area of expertise that contributed precisely to the programme and enabled them to benefit from skills, knowledge and experience of others in Silver Stories. In this way, the combined impact of a collaborative partnership like Silver Stories is significantly greater than the sum of the individual parts and Silver Stories leaves an immediate legacy by:

  • Integrating Digital Storytelling into the training of professionals working with Stage 3 (active) and Stage 4 (frail) older people through training and the development of quality assured modules. These modules have been extensively tested during the two-year programme and can be downloaded from this site. Module 1.    Module 2
  • Developing sustainable professional expertise in the provision of Digital Storytelling Workshops for a range of beneficiaries in each of the participating countries.  The partners have completed a Guide for those who are working in or entering the caring professions, such as health, social care or community settings, who wish to use Digital Storytelling as part of their professional toolkit.  It is designed to support Digital Storytelling facilitators, or prospective facilitators when they have completed a Digital Storytelling Facilitators’ Workshop that has been delivered by experienced and recognised Digital Storytelling practitioners.  It is not a ‘do-it-yourself’ guide for aspirant digital storytellers, as we believe that it is fundamentally important for anyone who wishes to facilitate a Digital Storytelling workshop to have experienced the process first hand, for themselves. Digital Storytelling Workshops – A Guide for Facilitators

All partners are committed to developing a sustainable legacy for Silver Stories. Dissemination through a range of activities (conferences, publications, showcase events) and long-term partnership building are key elements of our programme and will be promoted and published through this website.  Silver Stories has been evaluated by the Centre for Urban and Community Research and a copy of the Silver Stories evaluation report is available here.

Panel of male and female speakers in front of a large display screen

The final partnership conference, held at IPL Leiria, Portugal during May 2015, attracted international delegates in response to an international call for papers. UoB, DigiTales and IPL worked closely together to programme the conference with a mix of material from inside and outside the partnership. The conference provided a platform for the project, placing it in an international context.

A significant number of research papers have been given at national and international conferences. These have included: Athens (DigiTales), Biennial Qualitative Research Conference (Progress Foundation), Azores and International week at IPL, MECCSA in the UK (Digitales), Media Education Summit in Prague (UoB and Digitales) George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling – Storytelling and Activism Conference,  keynote (UoB), RIDERS (UoB) and Troubling Narratives (UoB).

Exhibition booth with title Silver Stories on a wall, a monitor playing films and foamboards with information on project and participants in digital storytelling

The Fourth International Visual Methods Conference at UoB in September 2015 showcased Silver Stories and the biennial Digital Storytelling Conference in USA during the same month featured presentations from DigiTales and UoB. The Silver Stories exhibition was hosted by UoB in August 2015 and included an IT and Cake event designed to promote the work to older people across Brighton.

One visitor encapsulated the interest the project frequently provokes: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use this model for the local community of Brighton and Hove to enrich the old here.’

The exhibition toured across to Finland, Romania and Slovenia in 2016.


Silver Stories partner institutions

Led from the University of Brighton, the success of Silver Stories was dependent on its international partnerships, through which it gained a global understanding of how this work can be fostered and disseminated.

University of Brighton, UK

Logo for University of Brighton Based on the south coast of England, the University of Brighton is a thriving, multi-campus university with research and teaching that transforms lives and benefits communities worldwide. It promotes scholarly activity across its disciplines including community outreach in media and the arts; its research in practice disciplines has an international reputation, with innovative work in story-telling, media, digital and visual communications. It has evolved from the Brighton School of Art founded in 1859, and continues to develop its remit for the enhancement of lives through the arts and humanities, providing a framework for the support and reward of good practice in civic engagement and social responsibility.

‘One of the most in-demand universities in the UK …’
Sunday Times University Guide

Storylab, Denmark

Logo for Digital storylab”To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen.

This quote describe the whole foundation and vision of Digital Storylab, which Nikoline Lohmann started as a company in 2007 in Copenhagen after working in Berkeley and Oakland with digital storytelling.
Her passion for storytelling, new media and empowerment of people came after working for big web companies as an usability and web consultant.
In Denmark there is a need of people telling their own stories, so Digital Storylab was the first initiative to engage and spread the method of digital storytelling. She has been involved in digital storytelling projects in the nordic countries and around Europe.


Laurea, Finland

Logo for Laurea universityLaurea merges research and development activities into its educational task. Working together experts from Laurea, students and partners generate new knowledge.In practice Laurea R&D is conducted in partnership with the world of industry and commerce which means that genuine workplace development issues and problems are selected as subjects of learning and development.Laurea’s innovation services offer help for utilising new knowledge and competence commercially. Innovation embryos are refined into commercial products and services, for which suitable commercialisation procedures and business models are identified. TULI expert services are made use of during the various stages of the process. Spinno Enterprise Center delivers world class, award winning pre-incubation and incubation programs for technology and knowledge based start-ups aiming at rapid growth and international successLaurea publishes research studies, theses, reports and other products of its research and development work. These publications are made available online according to the open access principle. Some publications are also issued in print. Kehittäjä – Prime Mover has been published twice a year as a bilingual magazine with articles in both Finnish and English.

Trapezio, Portugal

Trapezio is a small Portuguese organisation with expertise in digital storytelling and social media in both the social and corporate contexts. We deliver workshops, at both standard and ‘train the trainer’ levels, which main foci are education and social causes. We are also working in educational projects, notably with COMENIUS and LEONARDO, as facilitators of digital storytelling workshops. We produced an E-Learning Course on Digital Storytelling, already being by teachers in Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway. In Portugal, Trapezio has been working with teachers’ associations, museums, social projects, corporations and entrepreneurs, among others, in the promotion of digital storytelling and social media through workshops and platform development. Internationally, we have a broad international network of organizations within the social and education sectors, who are experimenting with and using digital storytelling to effect social change, upskill disadvantaged people and contribute to the emerging global network of online digital stories. In Portugal, we see as one of our goals to strengthen the Portuguese position as providers of low-cost solutions in social media and digital storytelling training, and digital platform development in education and enterprise incubation.

Progress Foundation, Romania

Logo for Progress FoundationEstablished in 2002 in Bistrita, Progress Foundation is an experienced Romanian NGO that pilots local initiatives in the field of education/training, community development and volunteerism and then scales it up, at national level, as innovative and impactful best practices, using county and local libraries (as lifelong learning hubs and social innovation centres) to reach out to virtually any social group and/or citizen, especially to the most marginalised ones. Throughout its 10 years of activity, Progress Foundation has implemented projects which focused on local capacity building, digital literacy and social innovation, thereby enabling groups at risk (such as Roma, marginalized youngsters, elderly people etc) to develop new skills, reintegrate on the labor market and become active members in their communities. In time, Progress Foundation was acknowledged as the promoter of social inclusion of the Gypsy/Roma community, and the community development project of the Foundation from Bărbuleşti (Ialomiţa County) was declared “best practice” in Romania by UNICEFF. From 2002 till 2007, Progress Foundation was a privileged partner of the European programme of “The Prince’s Trust” organization (the largest youth charity from Great Britain) and has been awarded numerous grants from major donors: EU (PHARE, Grundtvig), DfID, USAID-World Learning, European Youth Foundation or private funding.
Progress Foundation’s vision is that “small is beautiful” meaning that small activities, small targeted interventions can produce great impact in people’ and communities’ life. That’s why the motto for our programs is: SMALL STEPS – GIANT LEAPS!


Mitra, Development of Audiovisual Culture and Intercultural Dialogue, is an organization that promotes social inclusion through media activism and practical use of digital democratization, empowering young and old alike in media participation. This is achieved through organizing international documentary workshops, concerts, culinary art, photo exhibitions and public documentary screenings.

Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths, University of the Arts, London

Logo for CUCR Centre for Urban Community Research with words 20 years 1994-2014The Centre for Urban and Community Research was established in 1994 as an interdisciplinary research centre within the Sociology Department of Goldsmiths (one of the two highest rated sociology departments in the country for research excellence), University of London. Today our research stretches from New Cross to New York, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Ljubljana. With core expertise ranging from visual sociology to digital geo-demography, the CUCR remains central to debates about community, ecology, governance, multiculture, citizenship, arts and media in contemporary cities.

Our research focuses on three key strands: Community, ecology and governance; Multiculture, migration and citizenship ; Arts, media and sport.

As well as its research projects and teaching, the Centre for Urban and Community Research is involved in a range of on-going activities and events. These activities connect us to a range of stakeholders and user communities in our locality and in wider civil society.

We work for a range of clients, including local authorities, community groups, charitable trusts, arts organisations and government departments. Commissions include small focused pieces of work, and longer-term large-scale projects. We have built a reputation for our participative, qualitative and formative approach and are seen to be engaged, practically focused and responsive to specific needs, including understanding the political, policy and economic contexts within which our partners operate. For example, one of our strengths is turning academic concepts into practical toolkits and resources.


DigiTales, Goldsmiths, University of the Arts, London

Logo for digitalesDigiTales is a not for profit research company hosted by the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. It uses digital storytelling as a means to: Enable the widest possible range of people to tell their personal stories through the use of digital media; Foster the inclusion of marginalised people by providing them with access to ICT and building the confidence and skills needed to create a short online film; Explore the potential of narrative and digital storytelling as a powerful source of information and experience that can help to influence or effect change. DigiTales is part of a growing network of over 400 digital storytelling projects, practitioners and organizations across the globe.

The Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Portugal

Logo for IPLThe Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Portugal (IPL) is a public institution of higher education, at the service of society, dedicated to the production and diffusion of knowledge, creation, transmission and diffusion of culture, science, technology and arts, applied research and experimental development.

IPL develops its activities in the aim of education and training, research, provision of services to the community and extending cooperation in educational, cultural and technical areas. IPL has about 890 teachers, more than 12.000 students and modern facilities and equipment. The institution comprises six teaching and research units, namely 5 Schools and the Institute for Research, Development and Advanced Studies (INDEA). INDEA is the unit responsible for promoting, supporting and coordinating R&D activities in IPL, and for promoting advanced training.

The Health Research Unit (UIS), created in 2010, one of the research units that compose the INDEA of IPL. UIS is deeply committed in developing interdisciplinary scientific research studies and activities on health sciences, in order to formulate strategies of promoting a better and improved health among the populations. The research studies carried out by UIS are divided in three main areas, namely in: a) Health education & formation; b) Intervention in health; c) Health policy and management.


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