For the past three summers and winter breaks, the DIGICOM Learning Institute has provided week-long digital storytelling training to Palm Springs Unified teachers and students. Last week, a cadre of educators from several Riverside County school districts had the opportunity to participate in the same training, so that they can begin to infuse digital storytelling into their classroom instruction.
Alexandria DeHate, who teaches video production and sixth grade English language arts and social studies at a Beaumont Unified School District middle school, said the workshop was a great opportunity to enhance her skills and learn new strategies.
“It’s great to attend workshops like DIGICOM to collaborate, connect, build and learn skill sets and refresh my knowledge on this subject,” DeHate said.
Palm Desert High’s assistant principal of Career Technical Education commented that the course would assist him and his team to “create a media program and embed digital storytelling into the core curriculum” at his school.
Frank Guttler, who heads up the education team at DIGICOM, was the lead presenter of the workshop, which included about 15 educators from Desert Sands, Corona Norco, Desert Center and Beaumont. He explained that the course builds basic media skills and introduces “aesthetics and processes” used by professional filmmakers and media producers. Interspersed throughout the week were presentations by other DIGICOM instructors focusing on filmmaking techniques, hands-on projects, and the art of storytelling and integrating digital storytelling into the classrooms.
“Technology integration is not about the technology. It’s not about the tool, but how you used it,” said Guttler, who was formerly a TV/film producer and associate director of the American Film Institute K-12 Screen Education Center. “This district is very open to providing the training for teachers to use digital storytelling in their classroom. You can’t make a movie without the four ‘C’s’ of Common Core [creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking]. There has never been a time in the history of education where the tools have been better and the educational philosophy more inclusive. Pair that with a district that embraces this philosophy and training for teachers, and it is extraordinary.
“Teachers are being trained and students are involved in interpreting the story, managing the crew, working to deadline, giving and accepting criticism and taking pride in their work,” he continued. “They are developing the skills every 21st century employer is looking for, whether they ever make another movie or not. It boils down to one word – literacy.”