Digital storytelling promotes HIV and AIDS education in Africa

January 26, 2015, University of Eastern Finland

Children from poor backgrounds and with no previous technological experience are able to use digital storytelling to share their secrets and fears online, shows a recent doctoral thesis completed at the University of Eastern Finland. Since 2002, Marcus Duveskog, MSc, has been involved in various projects in southern Africa focusing on the development of technologies that make it possible for children and youth to share their experiences of HIV and AIDS.

Digital storytelling incorporates various types of media, including text, images, animations and sound. In addition to computers, digital stories can also be read on smart phones. The digital stories collected by Duveskog are available online at The name of the platform, Sura ya UKIMWI, means the "Face of AIDS" in Swahili.

The digital stories were co-designed and created in cooperation between Duveskog and children participating in the projects in five different settings in Africa. The majority of the research settings were located in the poor, rural parts of Tanzania, while one was located in Pretoria, the affluent capital of South Africa. The study analysed which types of learning environments support creativity, and it also developed a method for the evaluation of learning environments. The opportunity for creative expression is of key importance for the creation of expressive stories especially when it comes to sensitive and delicate topics such as HIV or AIDS in the family. By providing active support and creating an atmosphere that fosters free expression, it was possible for children to express themselves creatively. Furthermore, an open attitude towards learning is important.

In a world that is easily divided into game designers and game users, for example, it is important to notice that anyone can create digital stories, including African youngsters from . According to the study, the context in which the story is created matters. The storyteller creates the story in his or her own environment with the tools available, but it can be read by anyone anywhere in the world.

The study is linked to today's topical discussion on development aid and its problems and possibilities. The majority of the funding for the study was allocated by the Academy of Finland for development research. The results show that projects carried out in cooperation between universities and civic organisations can have a significant positive effect on African everyday life.

The findings were originally published in several conference proceedings in the field of , as well as in Educational Technology & Society, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, and British Journal of Educational Technology.

Explore further: Social support central for caregiver health in AIDS-affected South African communities

More information: The doctoral dissertation, entitled Digital Storytelling for HIV and AIDS Education in Africa, is available for download at … 78-952-61-1673-0.pdf

Related Stories

Social support central for caregiver health in AIDS-affected South African communities

December 9, 2014
Psychosocial support should be a key element of health interventions for caregivers of children in HIV-affected communities, particularly for women who take on the majority of care-giving responsibilities.

Reading to toddlers before naps significantly enhances learning

February 17, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A connection between sleep and learning has already been identified as beneficial for adults and older children. Now Sussex psychologists Dr Jessica Horst and PhD candidate Sophie Williams have shown that ...

Recommended for you

New simulation tool predicts how well HIV-prophylaxis will work

June 14, 2018
A new mathematical simulation approach predicts the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications, which help prevent HIV infection. The framework, presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Sulav Duwal ...

Many at risk for HIV despite lifesaving pill

June 11, 2018
Multiple barriers may stop high-risk individuals from accessing an HIV drug that can reduce the subsequent risk of infection, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Active HIV in large white blood cells may drive cognitive impairment in infected mice

June 7, 2018
Macrophages, large white blood cells that engulf and destroy potential pathogens, harbor active viral reserves that appear to play a key role in impaired learning and memory in mice infected with a rodent version of HIV. ...

HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains

June 4, 2018
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world. The findings were reported ...

HIV study reveals new group of men at risk of infection

June 4, 2018
A group of men who may be underestimating their HIV risk has been identified in a new study.

Discovery reveals how cells try to control levels of key HIV protein

May 31, 2018
One of the many challenges in treating HIV is that the virus can lie dormant in cells, quietly evading immune detection until it suddenly roars to life without warning and begins replicating furiously. Salk Institute researchers ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.