Creating an open source storytelling module

Credit: Angela Bond, Innovation Unit, New York

Credit: Angela Bond, Innovation Unit, New York

For young people who are affected by conflicts, the act of storytelling can be used as a healing tool because it provides a way for them to express themselves, interact with others and reform bonds during some of the most difficult times of their lives. We’ve been building a storytelling module for children. The course content is designed to guide and channel experiences into stories in a way that allows children to voice and be heard, and participate in a more equitable world. It teaches children to share their points of view, interview/talk with people, report events, and share stories of “Me, My Community and My World”, which could be hard for many young people who use withdrawal as a coping mechanism.

The purpose of the storytelling module is to (1) encourage children to interact with people and write stories; (2) create quick feedback loops through quizzes and story sharing; (3) teach children basic writing and storytelling techniques.

Our goal is to make the storytelling course available to young people living in refugee camps with a possibility to scale to a variety of situations. The full course with multimedia content and interactive quiz will be delivered online via web, which children can access at schools and community centers. The light version is delivered via messaging system as several SMS or MMS per day. Children, their families and friends with basic feature phones and electricity will be able to learn anywhere at no cost. This multi-channel delivery method designed for a variety of environments, especially those resource-constrained ones.

The content development part of the project is being done by three awesome instructional designers, who dedicatedly offer personal time to develop the storytelling module. Upon completion, the storytelling module will be translated into Arabic and posted on, a new online learning platform for digital skills developed by the Beirut-based NGO Social Media Exchange (SMEX). Among the first testers of the course, which SMEX will also make available in offline formats, will be young Syrians who have taken refuge in Lebanon and Jordan.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the storytelling project. (It’s worth noting that all final products will be licensed open source, and we appreciate any suggestions on how to make the content more relevant).

Zhiyao Ma
Analyst, Innovation Unit, NYHQ

Instructional Designer Bios

Allison Selby has taught in higher education for the last ten years. Her current interests are focused on high-impact experiential practices and particularly how they can be integrated in an online environment. Her primary focus is extending service-learning and internship opportunities for adult students through virtual solutions.

Allison Selby. Photo credit: Allison Selby

Allison Selby. Photo credit: Allison Selby

Daria Ng works in UNICEF’s Division of Communication in Public Advocacy with a focus on education. She has over 6 years of experience working with diverse young people in New York City and abroad as an educator. In her previous role as Senior Program Associate at Global Kids, Daria implemented innovative digital media programs that engaged youth with global and social issues.

Twitter: @wocildocil

Daria Ng. Photo credit: Daria Ng

Daria Ng. Photo credit: Daria Ng

Sumitra Srinivasan is an Associate Professor at The University of Toledo, Ohio. Prior to joining the university faculty, she also worked in the fields of journalism, market research and multimedia production. Her teaching and research focus on social/policy aspects of information and communication technologies, with particular interest in three areas — globalization, education and sustainable development.

Email: ssrini02(at), Twitter: @isnotanadverb

Sumitra Srinivasan. Photo credit: Sumitra Srinivasan

Sumitra Srinivasan. Photo credit: Sumitra Srinivasan

Related reading:

Innovators Network Lab – Searching for creative solutions in humanitarian action

New Innovation Lab in Chile connects global problem solvers to emergencies

3 responses to “Creating an open source storytelling module

  1. Pingback: Creating an open source storytelling module | N...·

  2. Pingback: UNICEF Open Source Storytelling module·

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