Campus librarian studies digital storytelling as a teaching tool

Tierney Lyons, reference librarian at Penn State Worthington Scranton, explores integrating digital storytelling with library instruction in the latest issue of the scholarly periodical, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries (

Her research examines how digital storytelling impacts nursing student engagement in an introductory research course.

"Storytelling is well-established as a teaching tool and bringing it to the Web offers a more interactive learning experience, Lyons explained. "An outlet for self-expression and interactivity, digital storytelling provides much appreciated human contact in online settings." 

"This collaborative outlet is used within the virtual learning environment to create a multimedia reflective narrative of video, audio and images on specific topics. Using computerized media for brief dialogs, each class member contributes to the discussion developing a collaborative 'documentary' via team-based content creation. Students explore together the learning objectives and complex social interactions."

Investigating digital storytelling for nursing research skills development, Lyons' study touches on a topic sparse in the academic library literature. This emerging teaching tool is compared to the established discussion boards and the outcomes offer insights on technology-integration and web-based learning challenges.

Her findings indiciate that web-based discussions increased students perceived engagement in course materials and their reflective thinking.

Lyons concludes that, "Faculty can promote these learning objectives by creating a digital dialog and including librarians in these online interactions."

Her research was also presented early this month at the Medical Library Association's Mid-Atlantic Chapter conference in Pittsburgh. The peer-reviewed presentation was entitled, "Digital Storytelling versus Discussion Boards: Comparing Nursing Instruction Learning Tools."

Ms. Lyons recently accepted an appointment as 2013-2014 Chair of Research & Assessment Committee of the Medical Library Association's Mid-Atlantic Chapter and serves as Chair of its national Scholarly Communication Committee.

The Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries is a refereed journal committed to the access, evaluation, and management of electronic resources in health sciences libraries.