Scholarly digital storytelling brings together my dedication to telling scholarly stories in new ways and to new audiences with my goal of promoting authentic, inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education.

“There’s a life after this class,” wrote a graduate student at the end of my 2016 scholarly digital storytelling course. “We are creating content that is useable, valuable, shareable.” Another student wrote that creating a scholarly digital story allowed her “to look at research in a different way.” A doctoral student commented, “At some point I’ll write a dissertation and no one will read it. Digital storytelling can create an entry point . . . into the more in-depth research and content.”

Digital storytelling can be many things: narrative . . . interactive . . . linear . . . nonlinear . . . immersive . . . ethnographic. . . artistic. It can also be scholarly. In higher education, it can provide a compelling medium for reimagining academic research, intended audiences, and scholarly communication. It can provide opportunities to examine evidence and arguments in new ways, reframe academic research, and learn practical digital skills.

I first taught digital storytelling in 2010. It was a rewarding teaching experience for me, but more importantly, a meaningful, authentic learning experience for an interdisciplinary group of graduate students who left the class with digital skills and with the ability to communicate their academic research beyond the class and the institution. I experienced the power of scholarly digital storytelling to open minds, shape conversations, and engage broad audiences in concepts grounded in academic research. Students, for example, shared their stories with fellow students and faculty, within and across colleges, and with their colleagues, families, and communities. They published their digital storytelling work and have presented that work at conferences locally, nationally, and internationally.


Kelly Schrum is Associate Professor in the Higher Education Program at George Mason University. She is affiliated with the departments of History and Cultural Studies.

A historian by training, Schrum’s work focuses on teaching and learning in the digital age, including online learning, digital storytelling, and history education. Schrum has directed more than two dozen digital projects with funding from federal agencies and foundations as well as through partnerships with national and local organizations and school districts.

She has published widely, including recent articles on teaching historical thinking in hybrid and asynchronous courses and scholarly digital storytelling, and presents both nationally and internationally. Schrum received her B.A. in history and anthropology from U.C. Berkeley and her Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University.