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digital storytelling

A Summer to Remember + Many Exciting Projects Already Underway!

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A Summer to Remember + Many Exciting Projects Already Underway!

When I originally started sketching out a business plan for Hands On Media, I assumed, since we were working with K-12 teachers and students, that our summers would be relatively light. The months June, July & August would be time for us to decompress. 

Right?

Ha! How wrong I turned out to be... ;)

Ever since we have expanded our workshop offerings to include customized media education experiences designed in collaboration with organizations, community centres, and research projects, we have been very busy with a rich variety of Digital Literacy workshops in both Quebec and the Northwest Territories.

The beginning of the summer saw us working with 30 youth as part of the Town of Mont Royal and Montreal West's Summer Camp series.  We spent 2 weeks delivering our iPad Stop Motion Animation Camps which included a mini Film Festival, where parents and community members came from far and wide to celebrate the students' creative success. 

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Mere days after packing up our Stop Motion Animation Workshop kit, I was on a plane to Yellowknife to deliver iPad Digital Storytelling workshops as part of the SMASH and FOXY Peer Leader Retreats, which were held at the unforgettable Blachford Lake Lodge.  Sex Education, Mental Health Awareness, Leadership and Digital Storytelling skills were taught throughout each 10-day program, with swimming, sharing circles, drumming, singing, eating delicious meals, and dance parties happening throughout! These two retreats were personally and professionally huge for me, as leaders and youth shared a special connection and learned so much from each other. Friendships were made at these retreats with both co-leaders and youth that I cherish, and which I hope continue far into the future. You can read my earlier post about the SMASH retreat here.

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After a few days off in Vancouver to visit family, I was back up North to work with a new group of Dene and Métis youth, elders and several researchers from across Canada in a remote on-the-land bushcamp organized by the SRRB (Sahtu Renewable Resources Board) called Dene Ts'ı̨lı̨. Held at Bennet Field, Northwest Territories, participants at this 17-day camp learned Boat Safety, Wilderness First Aid, Hunter Education, Medicinal Plants, Sewing, and Digital Storytelling. And wow, as a supposed "leader" of the camp, did I ever learn a lot! Because the bushcamp is also an active hunting camp, fresh meat was brought in almost every second day. Beaver, grouse (or "chicken" as it's called), geese, caribou and moose were regularly on the menu. 

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Digital Storytelling was obviously where I spent most of my time with the youth. I was impressed with how seriously they took their projects. 22-year old Shannon Oudzi from Colville Lake, NWT completed her project titled "Dene Life" and was keen to post to her Facebook page early on. In only 10 days the project had garnered 3700 views and 73 shares through Facebook, not to mention the dozens of comments supporting Shannon in her new creation. I could not have been prouder as a media educator, and if we had a few more days at camp she would have completed her 2nd Digital Story, no doubt. :) 

This camp was also the first experience i had working with both youth and elders simultaneously.  Walter, an elder from Deline, completed a beautiful Digital Story about the powerful relationship between a grandfather and his grandchild, while Michael, also an elder from Deline, wove a traditional legend about the time giant beavers used to roam the land, adding photos and video of him singing a Beaver song, completing his Digital Story "Tsa".

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I have so many reflections on the Digital Storytelling workshops I delivered these last 8 weeks, lessons I learned about working with youth, adults and elders, and quotes by workshop participants about their own experience. No blog post could be long enough to describe them all, but I will carry these experiences forward into my life and work. 

I returned to Montreal 2 weeks ago, and though it's hard to believe, our workshops are already in full swing for the new school year! 

  • We have returned to Royal Vale Elementary school in NDG for another 12-week iPad Video Production & Stop Motion Animation Workshop with Grade 5 & 6 students;
  • A second round of remote Digital Storytelling workshops for the Beaufort Delta Education Council begins tomorrow with 20 students in 7 communities of the Northwest Territories;
  • A 6-month Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators tour, in partnership with MediaSmarts has begun in a variety of universities across Canada, with 11 workshops to be delivered to hundreds of student teachers;
  • Several students workshops are booked already in Montreal with both primary and secondary students!

If you are interested in learning more about the Digital & Media Literacy workshops we delivered this summer, and how we can help you, your faculty, classroom, or organization, please contact me. We are here to help you enhance any learning experience with creative, practical and critical digital learning skills.  I look forward to hearing from you!

-Jes

 

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Back from a Sexism & Hip Hop Workshop in Toronto; Now off to Korea and Japan!

Social Media Training 101: if you're going to post a new blog, don't do it Friday.  Tuesday or Wednesday are sweet spots, as folks are more awake than Monday, have a bit more free time to read and learn, but by Thursday afternoon and all-day Friday, don't even bother trying to attract anyone's attention.  Most people are distracted and counting down the hours until the weekend.

Here I am writing to you on a Tuesday, but I so desperately wanted to throw that rule out when I returned from Toronto last week and started writing this blog Friday: I wanted to share this recent workshop with you as soon as I could! 

York Prof of Cinema, Art Curator and all-around Toronto powerhouse Janine Marchessault asked us to deliver a customized workshop to a class of Grade 11 & 12 Photography students at John Polanyi Collegiate in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood of Toronto.  The idea was teach the students how to create their own Digital Stories, using a recent talk they participated in with famed hip hop music video director Director X as a starting point.  In the talk, X was generous to share his history, experience and ideas for aspiring artists and music video directors with the students.  One student then asked him about the women he chooses for his videos, asking if he thinks the fact he only chooses one "type" of woman for his videos as problematic.  He replied with a "if they want to dress and dance like that, I won't stand in their way" response, accepting no responsibility for his role as a creator in perpetuating this very narrow and typical objectification of women.

I was asked to use this response as a starting point of discussion with the students, introducing Media Literacy through themes of Patriarchy, Feminism & Misogyny, as evidenced in many hip hop music videos.    I asked my friend and Toronto music video director Sammy Rawal to join me, providing context through his experience, plus his insight into the responsibility he feels as a creator of media.

We then asked the students to reflect on these themes, and formulate their opinion, thoughts and message through the creation of a Digital Story.  And what a job they did!  I literally had tears in my eyes during our group screening at the end of the workshop.  The students were so creative, thoughtful, intelligent and powerful in their messages.  Stories of harassment in their schools, homes, and in gym class.  Messages of power and resistance to these same treatments, with a resolve to overcome these unfair prejudices so that they can act and dream to become the adults they want to be. 

Now that we are back from Toronto, we are preparing for our upcoming trip to Korea and Japan, where we will be researching their own approach to Media Education, while delivering 2 workshops in Osaka to Japanese Association for Language Teaching professors.  We might even get a chance to take a bit of a vacation--can you imagine?

Stay tuned for news from the tour, plus many exciting workshops, contracts, & Spring Break camps to be announced!  We are booking up quickly for Spring 2017, but still have a few spots open if you are interested in booking a workshop for your staff, students, organization or community center. Have a great rest of the year, and we wish you and your students a wonderful end-of-semester!

 

 

 

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Join us! Digital Storytelling for Educators Workshop: Nov. 5, 2016 in Montreal

Forget about Thanksgiving, Halloween, or even New Year’s Eve. The most exciting festivity of the year is upon us: that’s right, it’s Media Literacy Week from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4, 2016! At the tail end of this exciting week of awareness and education about media literacy, Hands on Media is offering a FREE bilingual Digital Storytelling for Educators workshop in Montreal on Nov. 5, 2016.

Thanks to our partners at Rubika, an awesome design, animation, and video game education institution, we’ve got a space in which to present our hottest tips, tricks, and best practices in digital storytelling.

Are you an educator who wants to incorporate digital media and digital storytelling into your classroom? Not sure where to start? Our workshop will introduce you to activities, tools, and techniques that will help stimulate your student’s excitement about digital creativity, media literacy, and personal storytelling.

Join us for this FREE 5-hour workshop (but bring your own iPad or laptop, please!) and discover the power of telling personal narratives through digital media, whether it’s video, audio, animation, photography, text, or a multimedia project.  This workshop is a great opportunity for educators to develop their technology know-how and practice their skills for classroom application.

What can your students gain from learning how to tell stories with digital tools? The benefits are proven. Students will become familiar with the digital tools they’ll need to use for all aspects of their lives, whether in personal, academic, or professional realms. They’ll gain the confidence to express their opinions and share their experiences. They’ll boost their communication skills and unlock their creative potential.

Want to know more about the power of digital storytelling? We’ve written about the empowering effects of digital storytelling for girls and women, the learning benefits of digital media for kids with special needs, and the career potential of developing facility with digital tools in early life. Finally, check out this article by Hands On Media Director Jessie Curell. Jessie explains why digital storytelling is accessible, easy, fun, and most of all—highly educational.

All the details of the Digital Storytelling Workshop are in our Eventbrite calendar, so make sure you note the date, time, and location. While the workshop is free, registration is required, so go ahead and sign up right now. Note: this workshop is appropriate for educators of students aged 12 and up.

And in case you’re wondering: this workshop and its activities are relatively easy to execute for even the most techno-phobic teacher. There’s no time like the present to bolster your own digital and technological skills, while also gaining insight, skills, and confidence you can share with your students. See you there!

As we mark a milestone, digital skills and tools take centre stage in Canada’s future

By Jovana Jankovic

A Model for Digital Literacy

A Model for Digital Literacy

In 2017, Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As part of this milestone, the federal government launched Digital Canada 150 (DC150) back in 2010—a comprehensive plan to provide all Canadians with the digital skills and tools required to navigate our future. Within the DC150 initiative, public consultations were sought from stakeholders in the media literacy, digital technology, business, policy, research, journalism, and education sectors, and more than two thousand Canadian individuals and organizations shared their ideas!
But perhaps most interesting for us here at Hands on Media was the submission from our friends at Media Smarts (formerly the Media Awareness Network) titled “Digital Literacy in Canada: From Inclusion to Transformation”.

Here’s the tl;dr (you’re welcome!)

  • Digital literacy skill development in young people must be a cornerstone of government strategy, to ensure that Canada is creating citizens who can think critically about digital content and use digital technologies to their full extent. Media Smarts calls upon the government to create a National Digital Literacy Strategy, which includes consulting with a broad group of stakeholders, policy-makers, and researchers.
  • Citizens already use digital technologies to navigate through all aspects of their lives, from healthcare to news media to the workplace and beyond. The influence of digital technologies over our lives will only increase in the future. How can we ensure that our population keeps up? As the report says, “the issue for Canadians is no longer if we use digital technology but how well we use it.”
  • Recommendations include: compiling a comprehensive list of existing media education and media literacy bodies nationwide, as well as a comparison of similar programs in parallel jurisdictions like the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • K-12 and post-secondary learning institutions are a target for prime media education and media literacy initiatives; while the government has invested in developing technology and building infrastructure, it has not balanced these investments with developing the skills and knowledge needed by Canadians to use technologies safely and effectively.  Definitely take a look at a fantastic Digital Literacy Framework created by MediaSmarts.
  • “Digital literacy” doesn’t only mean being able to view and read digital content critically, but also includes the more complex and nuanced abilities to create and produce a wide range of content with digital tools. Citizens and students should be able to create “rich media such as images, video, and sound; and to effectively and responsibly engage with Web 2.0 user‐generated content such as blogs and discussion forums, video and photo sharing, social gaming, and other forms of social media.”
  • Barriers to digital literacy are important to address. While there’s a common stereotype that all younger people are digitally savvy while older people are clumsy and unfamiliar with digital technology, there is far too much variety within each generation to make this kind of simplistic assertion. Many factors including geography (and infrastructure), socio-economic status (and access to equipment), and language barriers (such as those experienced by recent immigrants) can be the cause of varying levels of digital literacy and competency.
  • While some educators have been wary of bringing technology into the classroom, evidence shows that digital technologies are an integral part of interpersonal learning between students and teachers. Technologies can provide platforms for collaboration and tools for organization. As the report states, “Excluding digital media from schools creates a potentially damaging split between educational and personal experience. Digital media are a knowledge technology; keeping them out of the classroom creates a significant dissonance in how youth gather and share knowledge.”
  • The career value of digital technology education is high. Many small and medium-sized businesses have been slow to adopt digital technologies in their internal operations, or to establish a web presence or move their businesses online by developing e‐commerce capabilities. This means students educated in harnessing and deploying digital technologies will have a distinct advantage in the workplace, as they can offer lagging businesses the tools and skills to make them competitive in the global marketplace.

If you have more free time, you can explore the full report here. Yes, it’s quite long, but it contains some excellent research and recommendations on how all stakeholders—government, academia, educators, business owners, councils on learning, ministries of education, industry organizations, library associations, and institutes for information technology and digital media—can assist the next generation of Canadians in using, understanding, and developing digital media literacy and digital technology skills for the successful future of all Canadians.

Interested in learning more about how to incorporate technology and digital media literacy into your learning environment? Check out Hands On Media’s selection of student workshops, or inquire about our curriculum consultation services if you’re looking to address a particular area of specialization.
Contact us and we can work together to make sure your students are becoming responsible, creative, and engaged digital citizens!

 

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Today’s Students, Today’s Needs: Key Areas of Specialization for Educators’ Professional Development

By Jovana Jankovic

The end of June marks the final days of classes for elementary and secondary students in most school boards throughout Canada and the US. As educators consider professional development opportunities for the new school year beginning in September, it’s important to keep in mind that the most effective professional development is the kind that helps educators focus on the needs of their students.

What are the most pressing needs of today’s young people? Are there gaps in your curriculum that could be filled by addressing emerging contemporary topics and skills? Obviously, the convenience, ubiquity, and constant access to mobile digital devices have strongly impacted the ways in which we communicate with, interact with, and analyze the world around us. Critical media literacy and an understanding of digital media technology are crucial skills for today’s young people to develop, and many school boards have yet to formalize these subjects into their core curricula.

Teaching students about digital storytelling, audio-visual production, new communications technologies, digital animation, critical media literacy, and the history and current state of media creation has been shown to have many positive effects. These effects include: mindful technology use (not just passive, distracted browsing of the internet or social media, but active engagement in, and production of, original content), technical troubleshooting (including learning new software and managing archives of digital content), and real-world digital production skills (as all businesses are increasingly required to have an online presence, digital marketing content creation such as image editing and video production have become highly sought-after workplace skills). Not convinced? Just take a look at this charming and thought-provoking personal essay from educator Paul Barnwell in Louisville, Kentucky. After he initiated a digital storytelling project in his classroom, his students felt like “trailblazers” and gained the confidence to “become the authors of their own lives.” Mr. Barnwell rightly warns that “if we don't consider and carefully plan what skills students are learning and practicing by employing technology in the classroom, we're doing our students a disservice."

If you’re an educator at the elementary or secondary levels, and particularly specializing in art, language, literature, music, theatre, science and technology, history, or social studies, you can have a great impact on your students’ media education by helping them to create and modify images, plan and organize ideas through storyboards, write scripts, perform in front of cameras, design and produce web content, or report news stories.

Not sure where to start? Check out Hands On Media’s Professional Development workshops, or inquire about Custom Training sessions for educators in a particular area of specialization. Contact us at #514.659.3814 or info@handsonmediaeducation.com and we can help you understand and tailor your professional development goals to meet the current (and future!) needs of your students in a saturated and stimulating digital media landscape.

We wish all our educators, their students, and our community partners a happy and eventful summer break!

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Feeling Recharged from BC + Ready for Next Workshops!

We are back from an incredible journey to Haida Gwaii, BC for the last few weeks, and what a productive and recharging trip it was!  A total of 4 workshops were delivered : 1 student Stop Motion Animation with Grade 3 students in Port Clements, 1 student Digital Storytelling with Grade 8 students in Masset, and 2 Professional Development workshops at George M, DawsonSecondary School.  There was a lot of enthusiasm for the new apps and techniques I introduced to them, and I am optimistic there will be many more animations and Digital Stories coming from these students in the near future :) 

Aside from the educational workshops, some highlights of Haids Gwaii were staying with so many hospitable and helpful locals, learning about so many aspects of life on the island that I would never have gotten staying in a hotel, and experiencing the magical beauty of this part of the world.  It is hard to describe how beautiful these islands are:  the never-ending beaches, the moss-covered forests, the rich Haida culture, the full moon rising over North Beach...  I cannot recommend visiting (or moving to) Haida Gwaii more.

Thank you to everyone in Haida Gwaii for your generosity, knowledge, and unforgettable welcome.

Now that November is in full swing, many new plans are taking shape:  Our first Montreal workshop is taking place this Friday with a group of Grade 1 Francophone students where we will be making Stop Motion animations.  A visit to New Brunswick is tentatively booked with the Acadian Film Festival to meet the Deputy Minister of Education in Fredericton, a trip to Labrador for the Labrador Creative Arts Festival to deliver a series of Stop Motion Animation workshops is almost confirmed (fingers crossed), and near the end of the month we will be delivering Professional Development workshops with two huge teacher conferences in Montreal, QPAT and SPEAQ. 

I feel recharged from this trip to BC, and even more confident in the limitless potential for media education with Canadian teachers and students.  Please spread the word about our work, and don't hesitate to get in touch about any questions you may have about what we can do together!

 

And We're Off!

And We're Off!

Our website was launched mere weeks ago, but we have been receiving workshop requests and news of accepted proposals ever since!  Bookings are open for 2016, so please share our site with any teacher or film festival that you think may be interested. 

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

The trip to Haida Gwaii is booked with several confirmed workshops through Tahayghen Elementary School and George M Dawson Secondary School.  A huge shout-out to teacher Allison Kozak for organizing such an incredible itinerary.

Oct. 22: Student Digital Storytelling Workshop, Masset, BC

Oct. 23: Teaching Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, Masset, BC

Oct. 24: Teaching Stop Motion Animation in the Classroom, Masset, BC

Oct. 26: Tentative Student Digital Storytelling, Old Masset Youth Centre, Old Masset, BC

Oct. 28: Student Animation Workshop, Port Clements, BC

Montreal, Quebec

Nov. 6: Student Stop Motion Animation Workshop, Montreal, QC.

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Nov. 10-15: Trip to New Brunswick to meet with Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Gérald Richard and Acadian Film Festival organizers Jean-Pierre et Kathy DesmaraIs to discuss potential projects and collaborations.  Will try to schedule teacher and student workshops while there as well.

Montreal, Quebec

Nov. 26-28: We have been accepted to deliver two Professional Development workshops at two teacher conferences in Montreal occurring the same weekend: QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers) and SPEAQ (Société de la perfectionnement de l’enseignement, de l'anglais, langue seconde, au Québec). Details of dates and location to come.