In the second semester of first year writing, students engage digital storytelling (DS). DS, in this context, is defined a short video (4-6 minutes) that showcases a powerful story in student's life (Cynthia Davidson’s assignment is used as initial model). Students upload their final videos to their ePortfolios but they have many webpages along with the video (about the music, the story, their images, their process, etc). Here are some of the questions that students to reflect on:
- When we combine ALL of these elements— sound, images, video, and words— what does this achieve for rhetors? For digital rhetorics?
- What makes your work part of 21st century storytelling?
- Your first year of college has coincided with some of most charged political events of the 21st century (bookended by the kidnapping/murder of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico to mass uprisings in Baltimore). Local media— largely through social media/digital outlets— insist that national news coverage got it all wrong and inserted its own voice. In many ways, you have all entered that same kind of social justice advocacy with your own digital projects. Think back on this digital project. Does it too make an intervention? How and why (or why not)?
¡Adelante! students, however, answer an additional question… a rather simple one, but a critical one:
What is ¡Adelante! Digital Storytelling (ADS)?
Like most contemporary composition students, ¡Adelante! students read composition research and, in this case, they read scholarship about digital storytelling. Though much of it is interesting, this scholarship focuses on digital tools and storytelling too generally and not on what that might mean in the context of Latin@ cultures, communities, and histories. Storytelling is ALWAYS culturally, socially, and historically relativist… and therefore, so is digital storytelling (DS).
After students watched one another’s final videos in the classrooms, they mapped out, using large chart paper, their answers to the question of: What is ¡Adelante! Digital Storytelling (ADS)? The specific local context of New York, the connections they had made to another in their first year of college, and the histories of their lives and families were specific to what their ADS was. We took the collective comments, wrote a group statement, and now here is how that looks, to the beat of DJ Raff. Here is how students defined Adelante Digital Storytelling in a 2-minute video:
This definition impresses as much as, if not more than, the actual finished video products in the way that ¡Adelante! students contextualize cultural traditions of storytelling within digital contexts, within their own cultural communities, and within their own local context.