Digital Storytelling Project Spotlight – “Women Warriors” and their Callings

For the Fall 2018 semester, Associate Professor of English, Kelly Roberts, Ph.D,  connected the summer reading book, Callings, by David Isay, with a digital storytelling project in her English 111 Principles of Writing course. Instructional Design Specialist Paul Keys, M.Ed, helped Roberts’s students use WeVideo, a cloud-based video editor, to complete their projects. We caught up with Dr. Roberts and a few of her students to talk about the assignment.

Dr. Roberts

Please describe the assignment.

After discussing the idea of callings, each student interviewed a personal acquaintance as to his/ her calling.  Just like the Isay book, some students chose a professional in a field of interest, some chose local celebrities, some chose civil servants from their hometown, and some chose friends or family who had a unique calling and contribution.  

Students transcribed the videos and used the transcription as text for a character sketch. After the sketch, the class chose three or four interviews to develop into two minute trailers, each highlighting the calling of the person interviewed.  In groups of about four, students used WeVideo to edit and create their callings trailer from the twenty minutes or so of original footage. Students presented the trailer and discussed the process of the collaboration on the last day of class.

One of the projects.

Why did you decide to do it?

I was inspired by Kris Macomber and Paul Keys and their work in sociology classes last year, some of which was featured at the documentary film festival.  I also wanted to incorporate learning on a new technology intentionally and with good integration and support. Finally, I wanted our hard work on the interviews and the theme of women warriors to be threaded throughout the entire experience of the course.  The theme, the books we chose to explore, the summer reading, and the interviews all worked together to accomplish my goals.

What was the outcome?

Students produced about seven two minute trailers.  Some were impressive and may be used at the documentary film festival.  All exhibited the students’ learning, collaboration, and hard work. I am so pleased with this pilot project.  Some are even going to be retirement and Christmas gifts.

I so appreciate Paul Keys and his willingness to jump in, be flexible, be patient!, and teach these skills.  Students are not afraid of technology, and faculty should not be afraid of an organized chaos that helps students display their critical and creative thinking, their collaboration, and their creativity. I’m happy to chat with anyone who is interested in incorporating a project.

Students: Jenna Curia, Destiny Euday, Laura Higgins

What was the most rewarding aspect of the assignment?

The Summer Reading Program book, Callings, by David Isay, founder of StoryCorps.

Destiny Euday: The most rewarding aspect of the assignment for me was getting to use the skills I have with video editing and put them into action and then getting to see the final product all come together.

Jenna Curia: The most rewarding aspect of this assignment was pulling our strengths and resources together to give women warriors a voice. I believe that women warriors lift each other up and use each other’s talents to create something greater than themselves, and that’s exactly what this project was about. It was rewarding to identify the attributes of our own women warriors while exploring the same characteristics within ourselves as we worked as a team to accomplish a goal.

Laura Higgins: It was really rewarding to transform a video that was so raw into one that was both informative and interesting to watch. Learning how to use WeVideo was a valuable experience because I know it is a tool I will want to use in the future.

Is there anything you would want to tell students who might work on assignments like this in the future?

wevideo logo

Euday: Don’t get discouraged by process and stay open to new ideas. It was hard at first for me to completely understand the woman warrior our trailer is about, and this is mostly because I didn’t necessarily agree with some of her ideas about what a calling is.

Curia: I would like to encourage students to be all-in when it comes to this project. It’s so much more than “just another group assignment” because it provides the opportunity to develop new skills, work with a team, and wrestle with the idea women warriors. I am greatly appreciative of Mr. Keys. His patience and willingness to teach is not easy to come by, and as a result, I believe that students began to discover their strengths because of the time he invested in our classroom.

Higgins: Take the opportunity to learn all that you can from the program! It is easier to use than you would think. You just have to put the time in. Create a video that you would be interested in watching aside from it being assigned work!

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