Truth, Reconciliation & the Importance of Education

Truth, Reconciliation & the Importance of Education

Over the past 8 years, I have attended close to 50 education conferences across Canada.  But last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a truly memorable gathering in Thunder Bay, Ontario – the Matawa Education Conference 2018.   

In partnership with MediaSmarts, I was asked to deliver the workshop "Digital Literacy Training for Canadian Educators" to conference participants, alongside other workshops including cultural curricula, First Nation language/immersion programming, teaching strategies for literacy and numeracy, and nutrition.

The workshop was a success, with 25 incredibly-engaged educators asking all kinds of questions about media bias and perspective, and how they can help their students think critically about the media they consume. They were truly a joy to work with, and I look forward to seeing how the integration of Digital Literacy into their classrooms evolves in the future!

 Kevin Lamoureux delivers his keynote address "Truth and Reconciliation in Education"

Kevin Lamoureux delivers his keynote address "Truth and Reconciliation in Education"

Keynote speaker Kevin Lamoureux was a highlight of the conference, delivering the 1.5 hour workshop "Truth and Reconciliation", plus an inspiring 45-minute keynote address that garnered a standing ovation.  

He spoke about how we "other" those who are different from ourselves, offering a few key ways to help address this highly problematic behaviour, which often leads to racism.   

  • Create a relationship with the person you're trying to educate; no one learns well when feeling shamed or inferior.

  • Provide access to good information, awareness and education.

  • Try to understand poverty & privilege: if you have privilege, how can you use it to help others?

Kevin is doing some really important work with the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation, and I highly recommend checking out their website to learn more.

After sharing with him our work at Hands On Media, he was excited to tell me about a campaign for elementary, secondary and post-secondary school students in Canada called "Imagine a Canada". This campaign provides an opportunity for young people to share creative representations of what reconciliation in Canada could look like. The submission deadline is April 2, 2018. Please spread the word to any students you think would be interested in participating!

Another highlight of the conference was meeting a tech teacher from Fort Severn, Ontario – a small northern community of 400 on Hudson Bay. He has been working with youth there to create a website for students to share stories, knowledge and activities. Learn more about their community through their blog posts, maps and videos by checking out the website here.


We believe in the power of digital initiatives such as these to foster understanding, awareness and connection, allowing even very remote communities to share their experiences with people around the world. Increasing awareness can decrease ignorance. A step towards truth. A step towards reconciliation.

Contact us today to learn how you can incorporate Digital Storytelling Workshops on Truth & Reconciliation into your classrooms.  

Helping NWT Teachers Bring Digital Storytelling into the Classroom

Helping NWT Teachers Bring Digital Storytelling into the Classroom

The Northwest Territories Educators' Conference took place in Yellowknife last week and we were honoured to return, presenting three Digital Storytelling Workshops to 75 teachers from across NWT. The conference is quite the event, with over 900 delegates flying in from across the Territory in 21 chartered airplanes. Because of the logistics (and the expense!), this conference is only held every three years. 


We began each workshop by screening several Digital Stories created by NWT youth over the past year, demonstrating how technically quite simple these projects can be while still conveying a compelling message through such a relevant and empowering activity. These Digital Stories are inspiring and informative, allowing young people to grapple with issues of identity, challenges in their lives and their communities, and goals for their futures. 

Following the screening, we demonstrated the basics of digital storytelling using simple PC, Mac & iPad software. Our aim was to provide educators with a powerful tool to incorporate digital literacy and media education into their classrooms, while also helping students find their own unique voice and tell their own stories.     


Here's what some of our workshop participants had to say about their experience:

"[Digital storytelling is] a perfect fit for my media class. The process or skills needed are attainable and the equipment is basically already in our school. The end product has so much potential for meaningful student self-expression and positive feedback."


"I appreciate how students will be able to create their own works to explore their identity, experiences and community and share elements of that with others."


"[Through digital storytelling] every child has the opportunity to create a project that is important to them and [...] they can be proud of their accomplishment."


"These workshops are invaluable. I hope to see you in our schools soon."


We have participated in teacher conferences across Canada over the years, but the NWTTA Educators' Conference is truly an inspiring experience. We are grateful for the incredible opportunity to learn from the keynote speakers -- including Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Dr. Marie Wilson and author Richard Van Camp -- in addition to meeting so many teachers who are excited to introduce digital storytelling to their own students!   Spoiler alert: it looks like Behchokǫ̀, NWT will be the next community we bring our new Digital Storytelling Workshop to. :)

 Keynote speaker Richard Van Camp 

Keynote speaker Richard Van Camp 

 If you are interested in learning how to incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom, contact us today. We would be happy to help you get off on the right foot!

Remote Digital Storytelling Workshops

Remote Digital Storytelling Workshops

Did you know that we offer workshops remotely? It’s a big world out there, but thanks to the power of the Internet, we are bridging the divide!

We are currently delivering Digital Storytelling Workshops to seven communities in the Beaufort Delta, Nunavut, as part of an e-learning course. Participants in these remote workshops create their own personal narratives by weaving digital photographs, video, voice, text and music together to create short digital films. Using Skype, we guide participants through every stage of the production process, from storyboarding to editing.

The workshop provides an opportunity for students to move from being passive consumers of media to active creators, and also teaches important digital literacy skills, encouraging students to reflect on their rights and responsibilities as consumers and producers of media. 


Creating a personal narrative through digital storytelling can be a transformative experience for participants. The impact of sharing these stories and connecting with others’ experiences is also powerful. In fact, three of the digital stories created during our first remote workshop series were selected for the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2017 Young Filmmakers Showcase – an event that features short films created for young people by young people.

In addition to the remote digital storytelling workshops currently underway, we have two new remote workshop series happening in April with students in grades 10 and 11. We can’t wait to share in the unique stories they have to tell!

If you’re interested in learning more about our remote workshops, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Summer Camps with Hands On Media Education!

Summer Camps with Hands On Media Education!

The weather forecast may be filled with snow here in Montreal, but we’re already dreaming of warmer days! If you’re also thinking ahead to the summer, why not consider booking a Hands On Media Summer Camp?


We offer summer camp packages that can be customized for a range of ages, settings, and special needs, and can be delivered in French or English. Our camps are highly interactive and production-based, allowing participants to explore their creative side and try their hand at making their own short animation or digital story. We also help young people develop valuable digital literacy skills, encouraging them to reflect on their roles as responsible digital citizens.

Oh, and did we mention they’re tonnes of fun?


Bring your students into a world of magic and creativity through our iPad Stop Motion Animation Camp! Based around a theme of your choosing, participants will learn how animation differs from other forms of filmmaking, and will get to make their very own stop motion animation using a combination of tactile and digital exploration and problem solving. Participants will learn how to storyboard their animation idea, create their own characters using clay, and use a simple iPad app to execute all the production stages of a complete animation video. 

Our Digital Storytelling Camp guides participants through the process of creating a digital video, weaving together photographs, video, voice, text and music to produce a compelling personal narrative. Easily adaptable to any theme, this camp allows participants to move from being passive consumers of media to active creators. Participants will storyboard their project, learn photography composition skills, and edit their projects using iMovie. This camp is also packed with digital literacy skills, encouraging students to reflect on their rights and responsibilities as both consumers and producers of media.   

Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about our services or discuss booking your own customized Summer Camp!

Black History Month

Black History Month

February is Black History Month – a month to celebrate and honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. This year, the Canadian government has chosen to focus on Black Canadian Women: Stories of Strength, Courage and Vision. Their website is full of useful educational resources, including videos, information on historical figures and events in Black Canadian history, and this poem by acclaimed Canadian poet and playwright, George Elliott Clarke.  

We also wanted to take this opportunity to share a #BlackLivesMatter animation created by students at Option II - an alternative school in Montreal's Saint-Michel neighbourhood. The animation is a great example of how young people can use digital media and storytelling to explore and engage with issues, and to tell their own stories in innovative ways.   

If you're interested in learning more about Black history in Canada, find out if there are any events happening near you! If you're in the Montreal area, you can check out Mois de l'histoire des Noirs for events and activities. CBC has also curated reading lists for Black History Month, which you can find here and here, and Reading Rockets has a ton of great resources for children and young people.    

And of course, if you want to learn more about the range of workshops we offer, don't hesitate to get in touch!

New Federal Funding Gives a Boost to Digital Literacy in Canada

New Federal Funding Gives a Boost to Digital Literacy in Canada

In partnership with MediaSmarts, Hands On Media is excited to announce that our Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators will be expanded over the next year and a half to reach each and every faculty of education in Canada!

This expanded roll out is part of the Canadian government’s new CanCode program. The government announced last week that it would be investing $50 million over two years to support initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12, as well as initiatives providing teachers with the training and professional development required to introduce such skills in the classroom. In particular, the program aims to equip young people and traditionally underrepresented groups with the skills necessary to prepare for a rapidly changing job market. 


The original pilot program involved the delivery of 11 workshops to faculties of education across Canada. The new funding means that MediaSmarts and Hands On Media will be able to provide digital literacy training to 3,500 new teachers in both English and French, who will in turn reach an estimated 300,000 students. The training is based on MediaSmarts’ innovative Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools, which identifies seven essential aspects of digital literacy and provides important information about each one, as well as model lessons for all grade levels.


You can download a full printable PDF of the Digital Literacy Framework here.

You can also learn more about Hands On Media and the other customizable workshops we offer for students and educators here, or by contacting us directly!

ArtBridges – A Hub for Community-Engaged Arts Across Canada

ArtBridges – A Hub for Community-Engaged Arts Across Canada

Hands On Media Education is thrilled to have joined the inspiring roster of organizations and initiatives on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory!

The Directory is a database of information about accessible and/or affordable community-engaged arts projects, programs, organizations and resources in Canada; a scroll through the profiles provides an exciting glimpse at the diversity of community-engaged arts initiatives happening all across the country.

Founded in 2008, ArtBridges is a hub for community-engaged arts initiatives with a mission to connect people interested or active in community-engaged arts nationwide. It seeks to nurture and provide better access to community-engaged arts through "ArtBridging" - a term created by the organization to describe the creation of networks and collaborations between community arts projects, programs, organizations and resources to produce positive benefits to Canadian communities.

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ArtBridges believes that the arts are a crucial component of healthy community development, strengthening the bonds between generations, improving health and a range of other socio-economic outcomes, and increasing community engagement, amongst other benefits. 

At Hands On Media, we also believe in the power of the arts to strengthen communities and expand opportunities for meaningful dialogue and self-expression. To this end, we’ve developed a range of customized workshops to help our clients do just that – from a workshop on Black History Month, told through animation, to digital story projects on the personal and cultural impacts of climate change.     


You can learn more about ArtBridges here, and to learn more about our socially-focused workshops, contact us today!

Digital Storytelling at the NWT Educators' Conference

Digital Storytelling at the NWT Educators' Conference

Although our Director Jessie just got back from Yellowknife, she's already looking forward to returning next month to participate in NWTTA 2018 - the NWT Educators' Conference! The conference happens once every three years, and brings together over 800 teachers and education officials from all across the territory to learn and participate in a range of professional development activities. 

Jessie will be delivering three Digital Storytelling Workshops, as well as a presentation on her experiences teaching Digital Storytelling in the North last year. (Jessie has described some of these experiences here, here and here). 

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This year’s conference, taking place from February 19 – 21, will also feature several themes around which many of the sessions will focus, including Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations, Wellness, Mental Health, and Professional Learning Communities. Other sessions will span a wide range of topics, from integrating Indigenous science into classrooms and supporting children to grow gardens, to bucket drumming, yoga and dance.

The conference also boasts two inspiring keynote speakers: Richard Van Camp – an award-winning author and storyteller, and a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation, and Marie Wilson – an illustrious journalist and one of three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 

To learn more about the NWT Educators' Conference, you can check out the NWTTA website:

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If you'd like to learn more about Digital Storytelling, we offer workshops for both students and educators, including Remote Digital Storytelling Workshops via Skype (something we've been doing with seven remote communities in the Beaufort Delta through the Beaufort Delta Education Council). 

Drop us a line to learn more!  


Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators

Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators

For young Canadians, digital literacy skills are vital to:

  • supporting their safety and well-being,
  • improving their job prospects in an increasingly digital economy, and
  • enhancing their ability to engage with and contribute to the world around them.

In response to this growing need, many education ministries are adding digital literacy to their curricula, and teachers increasingly are called upon to ensure that their students acquire the skills necessary to flourish in a digital world.

Yet to some extent, faculties of education in Canada have struggled to integrate digital literacy into their teacher training programs.

That’s where we come in!

Hands On Media is very excited to partner with MediaSmarts – Canada's top not-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy – to deliver a series of 11 workshops in faculties of education across Canada on digital literacy for Canadian educators.

This project supports teachers with training and resources to effectively implement digital literacy in their classrooms, helping students to develop the critical thinking skills they need to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.

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Here are a few of the highlights.

Distinctions between Media Literacy and Digital Literacy

Media literacy is included in the curricula of each province and territory. Media literacy is usually defined as being able to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce media. It focuses on becoming active, rather than passive, media consumers. 

On the other hand, there is somewhat less consensus around the definition of digital literacy, and the concept continues to evolve. In general though, digital literacy refers to the ability to do three basic things:

  1. To use digital technology in an effective, responsible and ethical way;
  2. To understand the implications of how we use digital technology (and how it uses us) and to critically engage with digital content; and 
  3. To create digital content and participate in online and offline communities using digital technologies.
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Key Concepts for Digital Literacy

  • In digital media, there are no one-way connections. Instead, everyone involved – as producer or consumer – is linked via a multidirectional, interconnected network
  • Digital content is permanent: everything that is transmitted is stored somewhere and can be searched for and indexed. This includes things that may seem temporary, like Snapchat photos.
  • Digital content is shareable, and you post online may be seen by people you didn’t intend or expect to see it. Once content is shared, you have a limited ability to control who sees what.
  • What happens via digital media is real but it doesn’t always feel real. When we’re online, it can be easy to forget that laws, morals and rights still apply, and that online actions can have real world consequences.  
  • Digital media, like traditional media, reflect the beliefs, unconscious biases and unquestioned assumptions of their creators, which in turn can influence our own experiences and behaviours.
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Teaching Digital Literacy

So how can we effectively teach digital literacy? MediaSmarts has developed a framework that identifies seven essential aspects of digital literacy and provides important information about each one, as well as model lessons for all grade levels.

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The entire Digital Literacy Training Presentation for Canadian Educators will also be publicly available in the near future (we will keep you posted!). In the meantime, check out the MediaSmarts website for all kinds of fantastic teacher resources, including lesson plans, videos, and tutorials.

Hands On Media can also help design curriculum and professional development solutions for your faculty and students. We are available to facilitate custom trainings that target the provincial or territorial-specific needs of your educators and students. 

Contact us today to learn how!

The Digital Literacy Training Program for Canadian Educators is funded by CIRA’s Community Investment Program.

A Summer to Remember + Many Exciting Projects Already Underway!


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. 


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. 


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.


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. 


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".


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!




Sex Education & Digital Storytelling with Indigenous Youth in NWT Wilderness

Sex Education & Digital Storytelling with Indigenous Youth in NWT Wilderness

I have just returned to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories after a very successful 10-day SMASH (Strength, Masculinities & Sexual Health) program & retreat in the deep Northern wilderness with 21 boys, aged 13-17 years old from across Nunavut & the Northwest Territories.

I was asked to deliver a 5-day Digital Storytelling workshop, as an opportunity for the boys to learn Digital Literacy skills, while addressing their own identities, past experiences, and plans for the future through video production.  I was thrilled to participate in such a progressive and important program led by such a cool team of sex educators, mental health support workers and other powerful support staff including our dear Chipewyan Elder, Setsuné Dragon.

The retreat took place at the remote and beautiful Blachford Lake Lodge, allowing us all to disconnect from our phones and the internet to fully engage with each other and the lessons of the day.  Topics and activities covered throughout included: how to demonstrate leadership in your community, information about STI, HIV and Hepatitis C transmission, the importance of consent, what healthy relationships looks like, sharing circles, drumming, photography, and swimming in the beautiful Blachford Lake. 


The Digital Storytelling Workshop began with viewing previous examples of work created by NWT youth, a discussion about what a Digital Story was, and what responsibility we have as media creators to source our material ethically and responsibly.  We then brainstormed our own Digital Story ideas, which helped us complete storyboards for the final project.  Photos we wished to include were taken with iPads of each other and our surroundings, which then led to editing using iMovie.  A new and cool addition to our workshop included a GarageBand app tutorial led by one of the boys, which allowed many to create their own cool music tracks!  Others chose to drum, or play guitar.  Below is an example of one of the Digital Stories created by 15 year-old Anthony Kyikivichik, from Aklavik, NWT. 

Our days were packed with experience, learning, sharing, playing, active-time, and creativity.  As the days went by, the retreat staff and I were able to witness some pretty considerable growth in the participants' behaviour, including their retention of the sexual health education.  (Educator tip: turn anything into a competition, and they will get into it!)

This workshop experience is one I will surely never forget for the rest of my life.  As wonderful as it is to be facilitating a program like SMASH, there is no way you can leave unchanged yourself as we learn and grown as much from the boys, as they have learned and grew from working with us.

Hard to believe, but next Wednesday I am heading out with the team again for Retreat #2 at Blachford Lake Lodge, but this time with GIRLS and the FOXY team!  Wish us luck--apparently, it will be an entirely different experience.  :)





We are growing!


We are growing!

With the new season of Spring technically here in Canada, we have news to share of growth, experience and travels!  We have been very busy these last few months growing and expanding in new directions.  So busy in fact, we have had little time to write regular blog posts or updates. 

Busy with what, you may ask? 

  • Brand new, customized workshops for a variety of clients in Montreal, Ottawa and the Northwest Territories,
  • A refreshing new, bilingual website to better serve both Francophone and Anglophone teachers and students in Canada.
  • A new 12-week after-school iPad Animation & Video Production enrichment program with 15 Grade 5 children. 
  • A 4-part remote Digital Storytelling Workshop for youth living in 5 remote communities of the Beaufort Delta, Northwest Territories, and
  • Delivering a series of drop-in family Stop Motion Animation workshops for the Ottawa Public Library this past Spring Break!

We also have a new team member, Antonio Sonnessa, who has joined us from Concordia's Film Program!  He has extensive animation experience, as well as graphic design skills, and loves working with children.  Antonio is already helping us a lot with our current workshop delivery in Montreal, plus any graphic design help we need with posters, images and workshop information packages.  You can learn more about his experience and skills here. Welcome to the team Antonio!


As we look forward to new projects, warmer weather, and even more growth ahead, we thank you for your continued support, valuing customized, hands-on, and empowering media education for Canada's youth.  We are currently taking Professional Development, Student and Organization Workshop registration for the new school year 2017-2018, and we look forward to hearing from you. 



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!






Teachers and Tech: Our HOME Teacher Survey Results

Two months ago we created a Teacher Survey to learn more about how K-12 teachers in the Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa areas are using technology as an educational tool in their classrooms. By filling out our survey, teachers were also entered into a contest to win a Free iPad Stop-Motion Animation Workshop at their school! While we finalize the winner we wanted to share some of our survey findings!

First of all, we were so excited to see that 100% of the teachers that filled out our survey use some form of technology in their classroom and over half of the respondents also stated that they actually allow their students to use their own devices for learning purposes in the classroom!

Also, while only 27.5% of teachers reported having participated in any kind of media and/or technology Professional Development session, an even lesser 6.7% reported that their students had access to any similar type of Media Literacy workshops or training. This suggests that there is a disconnect between teacher media training and a follow through to their students. Many Professional Development workshops are also lecture-based and offer little to no hands-on training.

We also found out that 51.7% of the teachers are using technology every single day at their school while another 44.8% using technology 1-3 times a week.  A whopping 86% said that they would benefit from hands-on training to help them learn ways to teach Media and Digital Literacy in their classroom.

We wanted to see what kind of restrictions teachers face with technology on a day-to-day basis so we asked them what they would benefit from and what problems they are currently facing when it comes to Media Literacy training in the classroom. One teacher commented “Technology is changing so fast and as much as I'd like to, I can't keep up. I would love for my students to get more instruction that is as current as possible in their ever-changing world”. We at Hands On Media know that the constantly changing nature of technology can be overwhelming for teachers! New apps, platforms and interactive media are always emerging and we believe that teachers would truly benefit from the opportunity to learn how to use these tools.

Another teacher stated, “We are told to incorporate more media and digital literacy into our teaching but we lack resources”. A common complaint we have heard from hundreds of teachers, which we know can be a very frustrating reality.

We found that there were a lot of teachers who do not know how to incorporate the already existing technology into their classrooms or feel they lack the technology itself. When we asked to describe if they would benefit from a hands-on instructional workshop on how to incorporate Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, iPads and laptops into their curriculum, almost all responded "YES!". The responses ranged from a desire for technical iPad training, to learning how to teach Digital Storytelling, to learning about Media Literacy more generally.

There is an immediate demand from educators for help with the integration of technology into the classroom learning experience and we are happy to be ale to provide teachers with the help they so desperately need.

Contact us now for more information on how we can provide you, your staff and students practical, educational and effective tools and activities for technological integration for the classroom.  Together, we can help bridge the digital divide we know so many students and teachers are experiencing.



Autumn Update from HOME: Media Literacy Week, Teacher Survey & More Workshops!

Hello everyone!

With the 2016-2017 School Year off to a great start here in Montreal, we have much to report from HOME.  (Isn't our Hands On Media Education acronym so good?!) 

Where to start...

Our free workshop contest and Teacher Survey has been very informative for us, with over 30 teachers responding with how they use technology in the classroom.  Did you know 100% of our teacher respondents use some kind of tech in the classroom, but 86.2% are wanting to learn more about media literacy and hands-on workshops at future Professional Development opportunities??  Luckily for them, this is why we exist, and we are excited to help them grow and learn soon.    Contest deadline is October 31st 2016, so please share the survey, and help us serve Canadian educators as best we can! 

Our new workshop season got off with a bang, starting with a great partnership with Vallum Poetry Magazine to deliver several iPad Stop Motion Animation + Poetry Workshops at the alternative outreach highschool Perspectives II.  Each group of students pre-selected a poem which they used as inspiration for their animations, and then worked as a team to develop a story and storyboard.  They then created their own clay characters, and took a series of images using iPads.  Sound, titles and credits were added, followed by a group screening of their final productions, and what an incredible and inspiring collection of work they produced!  Stories of break-ups, daydreaming, and Black Lives Matter are just a few examples.  Take a look at one here, titled "The Flower of Love". 

November is going to be one of our busiest months, as the word has spread throughout the EMSB of our workshops, and so have several booked with Perspectives I, II and Venture in Verdun.  We also have the exciting news of Media Literacy Week, a national Media Literacy and Education campaign October 31st - November 5th 2016.

Because the theme of MWL this year is "Makers & Creators" our HOME workshops are a perfect fit, and as such, have been invited to collaborate on a few exciting events.

Thursday Nov. 3: In partnership with kidsCODEjeunesse, we are hosting 4 FREE student workshops @ Notman House, delivering iPad Stop Motion Animation & Coding for kids in both English et en francais.  Nearby schools have already been invited and registered.

Saturday Nov. 5: In partnership with Rubika, we are pleased to host a FREE Digital Storytelling for Educators, and there are still a few spots available!  Register through Eventbrite here.   

If you are interested in learning how we can help you, your staff and students incorporate technology into the classroom or workspace through engaging, educational and fun activities, please get in touch!  We would be happy to speak with you about how our hands-on, customized and effective workshops can bring 21st century skills and learning to any pedagogical objective.


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!

Calling all Teachers! Win a Free Workshop by Filling out a Quick Survey about how you use Technology in your Classroom!

Are you a teacher working in or around Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa?


Our team of experienced Media Educators are working hard to provide you with the most relevant, easy-to-follow and effective workshop education, but we need your help. We are researching the access and use of technology in Canadian classrooms in order to better customize our workshops to cater to your needs.

If you are a teacher or work in a school we would love to hear from you!

Complete our short survey and let us know what types of technology you use in the classroom, and how you use them by October 31st 2016 and you will be entered into our contest to win one customized, hands-on Media Workshop with your staff OR students at a value of $800.

Hands On Media Education is an exciting new organization. Unlike online or generic workshop offers,  we provide teachers and students with unique, hands-on media workshop experiences they need to integrate Media & Digital Literacy skills and activities into the classroom. We cater to both K-12 teachers and students in order to help bring classrooms to the digital standards of today.

The survey is completely anonymous, and will be used for our contest and workshop development purposes only.
Contact us at if you have any questions about how we can better serve you, and thank you for your important insight!

Hands On Media Participates in Media Literacy Week

Co-founded by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teacher’s Federation in 2006, Media Literacy Week focuses on the role of Digital and Media Literacy, its importance in the education of our youth, and how it’s being integrated into classrooms across the country.

This year, Media Literacy Week takes place from October 31 to November 4, and we are excited to announce that for the first time, Hands On Media will be participating in several ways, including hosting two free Media Workshops in Montreal, plus a published article titled “Digital Storytelling in the Canadian Classroom” for the Canadian Teachers Federation publication Perspectives!

This year’s theme is Makers and Creators, and offers a special focus on media production, remixing, maker/DIY culture and coding.

A lot of attention has been paid to the concept of media literacy since UNESCO declared it a fundamental human right in 2007, meaning that every individual should have the ability to access, analyze and evaluate the technological messages they receive. One of the best ways to recognize, and be able to reject, the manipulations presented by the media is by understanding the process through which media is created. By learning to create and produce one’s own work comes a greater understanding of how the whole machine works. Equipped with this understanding, people become empowered to use the media, rather than allowing the media to use them.

To this end, Hands On Media will be offering two separate workshops:

  • Stop Motion iPad Animation Workshop (Montreal, November 3)
    On November 3, @ Notman House in Montreal, Hands on Media will be partnering with Montreal-based kidsCODEjeunesse to offer two separate workshops under one roof. While the latter organization will be teaching Coding in one room, Hands on Media will be conducting iPad Stop Motion Animation workshops in another.

This workshop will provide students with a hands-on introduction to the basic principles of animation, including story-boarding, character creation, production, and even post-production. It’s a 3-hour workshop that culminates with the completion of short films which are then screened as a group. Geared towards participants 6 years old and up, we’re inviting schools from across the city to participate in this free event.

  • Digital Storytelling Workshop for Educators (Montreal, November 5)
    In conjunction with our new article “Digital Storytelling in the Canadian Classroom” published in the upcoming CTF Perspectives publication, we will be offering a Digital Storytelling workshop to teachers November 5th. Developed around any classroom theme, this workshop aims to equip educators with the necessary skills to develop short digital narratives with their students, comprised of photographs, video, voice, text, and/or music.

The workshop is geared towards those who teach students 13 years old and up, and will also be offered for free. The location is to be confirmed. Get in touch to register today, and please spread the word with all your teacher friends!

As a growing company, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in this special week, and we look forward to meeting and collaborating with new teachers and schools across the city.

For more information about Media Literacy Week or our workshops,  please contact us today.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Back to School with All-New Digital Workshops from Hands On Media!

Just in time for the start of the new school year, Hands On Media is introducing a series of customized, hands-on media workshops for both students and teachers in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

For Educators

Our educational system must keep up in order to remain relevant, as we all rely on some form of technology to express ourselves and share our experiences. These workshops are designed to provide teachers with a solid foundation in digital storytelling, allowing them to seamlessly integrate digital literacy, media literacy & media production into their curriculum.

Teaching Animation in the Classroom equips educators with easy-to-use Stop-Motion techniques. Animation is an excellent way to engage students and make any subject or theme come alive. This 3-5 hour workshop will provide practical, hands-on experience in how to set up an animation station, how to story-board an idea, how to capture animation images, and how to sound effects, voice and music. This course is geared towards educators of students 6 years old and up.

Digital Storytelling in Your Classroom introduces educators to the concept of developing 2 – 3 minute visual narratives and offers basic strategies for creating digital stories in the classroom. Mediums used include photographs, video, voice, text and music. This is a 5-hour workshop and it’s geared towards educators who teach students 13 years old and up.

For more information on these workshops, visit the Professional Development section of our website.

For Students

Nothing engages students more than interactive learning. At a time where common thinking still seems to be to keep technology and gadgets out of the classroom, the truth is that embracing these new tools is the path to greater learning. If you want to excite your students and inspire them to learn in a fun and challenging environment, read on.

The iPad Stop Motion Animation Workshop gives students a hands-on introduction to the basic principles of animation, including story-boarding, character creation, and production. Watch as your students fall in love with the process while learning to work as a team in order to create their own short stop-motion film. This is a 3-hour workshop, but we also offer a 5-hour version that includes sound and narration design. Geared towards students 6 years old and up, maximum of 30 participants per workshop.

The iPad Digital Storytelling Workshop enables students to use digital photographs, video, voice, text, and music to create a personal narrative in the form of a digital video project. Rather than simply consuming media, your students become an active participant in its creation. Suitable for any curriculum or classroom these, this 5-hour workshop teaches digital and media literacy skills as it encourages students to reflect on their rights and responsibilities as they consume and produce media. Participants will storyboard their projects, learn photography composition and video editing using iMovie. Suitable for ages 13 years old and up, maximum of 30 people per workshop.

To learn more, please consult the Student Workshop section of our website.

Be the teacher that makes a difference by bringing an unforgettable, immersive, hands-on experience right into the classroom. There is nothing like the pride and sense of accomplishment your students will feel after completing one of our programs, and they will carry the skills they learn with them for the rest of their lives.

Contact us today for more information.