The SOLIS project at the e-methodology conference in Poland
On behalf of our 8 European project partners, Dr Antonia Liguori gave a presentation on “Digital Storytelling as a tool for peer learning. Reflecting on the European project SOLIS as a case study within formal and non-formal Education”.
Digital Storytelling is a well-known workshop-based approach that, over the past 25 years, has been successfully applied in formal and non-formal Education to build trust and share knowledge and experiences (Cianca et al 2014). It is usually based on a series of steps, including story-circle, script writing, storyboarding audio and video editing, and screening, which are generally designed and facilitated by an ‘expert’ in the methodology.
Process and output are equally important to help develop ‘holistic thinking’ (Meadows, 2009) in both the teller and the listener, and to enhance active listening and collective empathy.
As part of the EU funded project SOLIS, digital storytelling has been applied as a way to:
- Discover hidden stories
- Amplify silent voices
- Combine traditional forms of communication and learning processes with new technologies
- Support collaboration
- Improve wellbeing
Despite some very successful applications of this methodology, the SOLIS project also made the project team more aware about some of its limitations, starting from the need for an expert facilitator to deliver the workshops. This particular limitation emerged from discussion within the team about the long-term impact of the project and was also confirmed by the feedback received from the young people involved in the workshops. In fact, some of them highlighted that they would have preferred to have direct conversations with their peers rather than participating to activities mediated by adults. To respond to this emerging need, the project team started a new collaboration with Mental Health Foundation, in the UK, to pioneer the use of the SOLIS methodology for peer learning among young people. Using insights gained during a series of six storytelling workshops with students ages 13-16, a Digital Storytelling Toolkit (https://digitalstorytellingtoolkit.uk/) was developed to help young people talk about mental health and wellbeing in smaller groups. Discussing the provided materials and prompts in groups has helped young people improve their sense of connection and belonging, as well as their self-awareness.
The co-creation of this Toolkit expanded the conventional ways of thinking of digital storytelling as an ‘expert-led’ activity and challenged the classical model in a way that is disruptive of the practice, but also in line with its original ethos.