I’m in Charlottesville today, filling in for a friend of mine, co-teaching a seminar for the Center for Digital Storytelling. The last phrase is bookmarked, so you can go see for yourself what they’re all about, but in a nutshell, they conduct workshops to help people use specific technologies in order to tell their own, personal “story.” You can check out a bunch of examples on their site, but I have to say that I love not only the idea of what they’re about, but I actually also like the work their students produce. I see that as a pretty rare combination.
I live and work in the academic world. So often people do great work (excellent scholars, poets, creative nonfiction, etc) but can’t really teach those strategies or aren’t invested in the teaching to begin with. On the other hand, there are plenty of practitioners who are able to theorize or teach these concepts well, but haven’t honed their own craft yet. What’s great about the Center is that, not only are the teachers excellent digital storytellers, but they are great teachers as well. What’s even more fascinating (and challenging, to tell you the truth) is that they run their organization outside of the academy, often partnering with for-profit businesses, k-12 school districts, universities, and public institutions.
This week’s seminar will focus on helping six K-12 history teachers learn about some of the elements of digital storytelling. I’m going to pay particular attention, over the course of these next few days, to some of the institutional concerns of those who hired us, what the participants are after with their projects, and what it is, exactly, that we “offer” as an organization.