The Deconstructed Workshop

Hello everyone.  My name is Nicole Hubbell, and I’m writing from the University of Denver’s Office of International Education (OIE).  We’ve recently begun implementing digital storytelling for study abroad returnees.

First, a quick background:  I became interested in digital storytelling when I heard about it from a colleague who attended the 2010 Forum conference in NC.  Since then, I’ve taken a Standard Workshop from the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) as well as their Facilitator Intensive Training workshop.  I’ve held five workshops at DU modeled after CDS, though in a condensed format—Friday afternoon and all day Saturday rather than a full three days.  The workshops have been successful in that students have all finished stories and had positive feedback about the experience.  The most difficult part, though, has been getting students to attend.  As of now, it’s voluntary, and the day-and-a-half commitment scares them away.

For this reason, I’m trying a different approach to the digital storytelling workshop.  I managed to secure some space in our building that is designated as the Digital Storytelling Workspace, and also purchased some equipment (6 MacBooks, headphones, USB mic, etc.).  I’m offering segments of the workshop on a regular basis so that students can sign up for times that are convenient.  For example, they could come to the 7 Steps Lecture on a Friday from 1-2pm, stay for Story Circle from 2:00-3:30pm, and then come back the next week for open lab hours when they can work on their stories with support from me.  I’m also offering an optional iMovie tutorial for students who aren’t familiar with the software.

I still have the problem of incentive, though we will soon have a mandatory requirement for students to do something when they return, whether it’s write an essay, make a digital story, or some other type of multimedia piece.  My two main concerns in shifting to this new format are losing momentum (the tight deadline at the end of the day will be lost), and also losing that great community spirit that comes out of a workshop.  I’m curious to know what people’s thoughts are on the topic, and if anyone has tried something similar.

For a look at some current student stories, as well as more details on the Workspace, here’s a link to the website:

Thanks for your help!


3 thoughts on “The Deconstructed Workshop

  1. Nicole, welcome! 🙂 This sounds like it has some distinct advantages, especially in addressing the less-structured nature of your abroad program. So far, how is it helping with participation?

  2. Thanks, Brett! Glad to be part of the club. 🙂 Too early yet to say on whether this new format will increase participation. I have a schedule up with times available beginning Saturday the 29th. Trying now to get the word out and get a few students to sign up, but nothing yet. I’ll keep you posted – also to let you know how the format works in comparison to the “normal” workshop.

  3. Nicole,
    What a great post, thanks so much for joining us! I’m very intrigued how your experiment turns out. We have a small grant program where students are awarded $500 to do a special project while abroad, and they are required to similarly “do something” when they return. I sort of wish we could make this project mandatory for all our students going abroad, trim the program budgets enough to allow everyone to get the $500…it helps to have it as a three-term process with the pre-departure work going towards project design. Anyway I’m eager to see how what you are proposing turns out!

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