Digital Storytelling as a Reflective Practice Tool in a Community of Professionals

Corrado Petrucco
University of Padua, Italy


People seem to have an innate ability to represent their experiences in a natural way in the form of stories because they facilitate communication, describe content in a rich context and require less effort than more formal methods. A typical Digital Storytelling artifact is a video or a slide-show just a few minutes long and its essential elements include a strong point of view, dramatic questions and emotional content that keeps the viewer’s attention and speaks directly to the audience: indeed, a digital story is often viewed as a strong emotional experience. Digital stories also convey a more detailed context than textual and verbal stories, facilitating tacit knowledge elicitation.This exploratory study based on an ethnographic research about a group of food safety professionals (physicians, veterinarians, biologists, chemists, nutritionists and prevention technicians) of the Veneto regional health system (North Eastern Italy). The training project was aimed at improving the cooperation between people belonging to different service industries that deal with animal health and food safety. For these professionals, during their everyday work, there are few opportunities to exchange information and talk about and solve critical issues. To fill this gap, we experimented with the creation of an on-line Community of Practice. Seeing the relevance that the emergence of narrative modalities in the processes of problem-sharing and problem-solving had taken on in the online community, we decided to support their “reflective practices” encouraging participants to create Digital Storytelling artifacts about the problems they perceived to be the most important. The following research questions were explored.

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