Using digital stories to communicate experiences of cross-cultural collaboration

Year: 2012

Author: Bartleet, Brydie-Leigh

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This OLT project brings together university students and Indigenous communities in collaborative learning partnerships. These partnerships are designed to develop students' intercultural competencies, transform their understandings of Indigenous culture, and also support Indigenous communities through actions that have a direct benefit to them. From this shared experience, powerful stories of cross-cultural understanding, transformative learning, and creative inspiration emerge. In order to vividly capture these experiences and communicate them in a culturally appropriate way, during our OLT project's pilot in Central Australia (2009-2011) we used digital storytelling as a means to share and reflect on these interactions and exchanges. Digital storytelling is a "grassroots" film practice that allows people to impart aspects of their life story through a combination of images, narration, video, text, animation, music and sound effects. Digital stories are increasingly being used in community cultural development to give voice to individuals and groups who have not customarily been heard. During our pilot project, the creation of these digital stories became an important means for the students to convey the transformative nature of their learning experiences to their peers, their Indigenous collaborators and the broader community. During each annual showcase of these digital stories, we observed how these narratives touched viewers and moved them to think about Indigenous culture in new ways. These stories also played an important role in encouraging a continuing commitment and investment in the project from the Indigenous artists involved, and became a useful advocacy tool for their work. At the same time, some critical tensions arose from this act of representing Indigenous culture through personal narratives. In this paper I will screen excerpts from the students' digital stories and touch on the benefits as well as the tensions that can arise when sharing cross-cultural stories in this way. 


Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government's Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this proposal do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.