Contact Us
14 May 2019
UWC collaborates in global digital storytelling lab initiative - A drive towards social innovation

(Published - 14 May 2019)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC), in partnership with Common Good First (a global digital network), launched its first lab to help bridge the digital divide through storytelling with the aim of promoting awareness of social innovation in South Africa.

Common Good First is a single digital network with the aim of capturing and showcasing social impact projects in South Africa. The organisation then connects projects to each other as well as academics and students from higher education institutions from around the world.

Professor Isabella Venter from the Department of Computer Science says past research showed communities frequently created their own solutions to problems, but these solutions went unrecorded or were documented but in unpublished reports. “For this reason Common Good First was born with the idea of creating real-world and virtual communities of solution-finders, capturing and evaluating their stories with the hope of making a difference.”

The network has been funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme, with additional investment from the Scottish government. The network comprises universities from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Spain and South Africa, as well as the global network, the Social Innovation Exchange.

UWC’s first digital storytelling lab launched on campus on April 24. Common Good First provides an innovative digital platform where social innovation projects in South Africa can be shared. The idea with these projects is to aid communities in sharing their stories in order to find effective, efficient and sustainable solutions to social problems, according to Prof Venter, who forms part of the UWC cohort who manages the South African division of the project.

Others involved in the cohort are Dr Leona Craffert from CoLab for e-Inclusion and Social Innovation, and Mr André Daniels from the Centre for Innovative Education and Communication Technologies.

“This digital platform and network hopes to foster collaboration and links between education, research, social business and government in South Africa and Europe.

UWC is one of 12 international partners participating in the Common Good First: Digital Storytelling for Social Innovation project,” says Prof Venter.

Six South African and six European partners (universities) were selected for their pertinent knowledge and skills.

Mr Larry Pokpas, UWC Institutional Planner, noted in his opening speech at the launch of the Lab that this is a hugely responsible initiative as it deals with the stories of individuals within a global digital context, and it work towards the “common good”, first.

What is digital storytelling?

Digital storytelling is a blend of video, audio, images, and text used to convey personal stories, information and ideas. The art of storytelling is the most enduring and powerful means of learning, communicating, decision-making, and igniting action in our fast-learning, fast-changing world.

How will it benefit society?

Digital storytelling will help solution-finders showcase their stories on an innovative platform and in turn work towards bridging the gap between students and academia. The Common Good First digital platform and laboratory provides self-help resources and equipment for users to independently develop their digital stories, and in turn allows individuals to learn from a network of international academics & social innovators/entrepreneurs and thereby create research sharing opportunities themselves.

To find out more about the Common Good First project visit or