The Pedagogy of Digital Storytelling in the College Classroom

This is a digital story about our "Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color" class experiences. For slower internet connections, go here.

This is a digital story (medium version) about our "Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color" class experiences. Click here for a larger version that works well with fast internet connections.

This course has ended...

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This blog is a course blog for AFRO/GWSS Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color at the University of Minnesota, Fall 2008.

Please feel free to browse the site, and remember blogs happen in reverse chronology, so if you want to start at the beginning, click HERE, or browse the links on the right-hand sidebar.


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Although the course has ended, it is still getting recognized for innovation. CLA REACH has called us, officially, a "COOL COURSE"!

See here:



YouTube and the way we think

Wired magazine has posted an interesting article about changing views about how we can use video to communicate with others and ourselves. Check it out!


It is hard to sum up what I think of this class and the experiences I have had in such a short way but here goes. I loved this class and am so sad to be saying good bye to digital storytelling. I went into this class uncertain of what to expect but the further we got into the class the more I enjoyed going to class week after week. It helped that both staff were so passionate about their work! I haven't met anyone more excited and energetic about the material they were teaching. Rachel and Walt, you two made this class. I enjoyed the learning the different components of digital storytelling and it helped that you two were willing to share your own personal stories with the entire class. I have learned a great deal about what a story truly is and I thank you both for that.

Amanda's reflections

I remember thinking when this class started that Walt and Rachel were some of the most enthusiastic professors I had ever had. It's clear that they both are passionately connected to the material taught in this class. That right there says a lot for how the class is set up, because we dealt with issues that were extremely personal and important to people in the class. I've never had a class where students are so encouraged, or even allowed, to share their personal experiences and utilize the class as a way to perhaps deal with some major issues in their lives. I think it's amazing how Walt and Rachel created an environment were people felt safe and comfortable to share their most personal stories, and it made for a very relevant class.

Final Reflection - Ashley

I’ve really enjoyed this class, I’m very happy that I took it. I’ve learned and thought about things I might not have otherwise, I told stories, that I may not have told, and I’ve met people that I may not have met. I want to say that I’ve enjoyed class with you all, and have learned things from you too. I’ve watched how people restarted stories after spending hours on it, because it had been erased, that takes work!
I also want to send a shout out to Walt, and Rachel, you are the greatest!

Final Thoughts (The Dream)

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I am glad this semester is over (whew), with the exception of this class of course. I’ve never had a class that has so much to offer. It seems so open that there’s no limit to how much you can gain and learn from it. There should definitely be a follow up to this course and have this class as the prerequisite. But now that it’s over… what will I take from this course?

Tameka's Final Course Reflection

Hands down this course was one of the best I've taken at the U. It's funny because I added it at the last minute and wasn't sure about taking a Friday class. I'm glad I did because I came out with a lot experience and tools that I will continue to use. It was very important for us to not only learn the technical aspects of how to make a digital story, but also learning how to tell the different types of stories. This course has also helped open my eyes to my community and see the importance of keeping it intact.

Thanks Walt and Rachel for all of your help this semester and good luck to you both in the future. I enjoyed meeting everyone and hope you all have a safe holiday season!

Final Blog

Well, Class, I guess we've reached the end of this part of our journey together. I rather enjoyed the time we spent together all the smiles and tears we've shared......etc.etc.

I'm not quite sure what all needs to be said here. I thoroughly enjoyed this class (the curriculum as well as the environment and classmates). I do suggest this class continue to be a presence and a resource within the two departments its offered perhaps as well in another department (journalism?). I had great fun sharing and hearing stories and getting to know you all. This course has definitely equiped me with some valuable skills to be used in the VERY near future. Thank you to Profs Walt & Rachel for hosting and facilitating such a great class, I look forward to working with you both in future endeavors. and to my fellow classmates goodluck telling your stories and remember to make sure you can see light in the eyes of those you interview on camera.

Great class. Great teachers. Great environment. I expected to learn a lot and I learned much more. I hope this class continues on.

...The End...

Sophia N's Final Reflections

Like I said in our final class, I really feel like I got my money's worth taking this course. But it goes way beyond that, I can even contradict myself and say that everything that I learned was priceless. I have gained relationships, new experiences and knowledge in an area that I never knew could be accessible to me. My uncle used to create and edit videos for the family, I have watched many people's work, but never did I think that I could do the same thing so easily (well actually not so easily at first...).
This course has taught me another texture to the issues in communities of color. What I have learned from another course is the psychological residuals of slavery for the African American community. The biggest one being the systematic silencing of Black people, I find that this course forced myself and many of us to learn how to break this long history of silence. We can now speak and tell a story with an even louder voice, in this age of information sharing and youtube anyone can have a voice. I can now pass on this new knowledge to my friends and family. I can teach parents how to do this for their kids, and I can teach others need a channel of expression and voice also.

I stand up and applaud Walt and Rachel for coming together and figuring out a way to make this class happen. I have never seen what I have seen in this class. Everyone being so passionate and open- not one person can say something negative about this class. We have all taken something valuable from this course and we have all learned so much in different ways...some of us already having experience with the technology learned more about the theories in digital storytelling, and for others learning the art and practice of digital storytelling... Thanks again. (And I am definitely helping with the book!!!)

Sophia's final thoughts

I decided to take this class because I had enjoyed Rachel's summer course and wanted to learn more about making videos/ I have enjoyed this class so much over the semester. I have learned about media, culture, and social justice, and lots of tech tools.

I really enjoyed the structure of the class. Being able to read a book and discuss it with the author is a pretty unique and lucky experiences. Having Walt as an example helped me to be honest and real with my first digital story about my family. I also will take with me the idea that videos are gifts and everything that goes in to a video should be in service to that gift. Having us create personal digital stories first helped to create a community within the class where we felt comfortable sharing stories and personal opinions about the current events and media reading we did. The reading shed light on what digital stories can do in community and give voices to marginalized groups of people. I also learned about many important web sites and organizations that are working to effect change and concerned with social justice.

The technology I have learned is this class is something that I will carry with me and be able to apply to things I do in the future outside of class. I have learned about cameras and tripods. That key lighting is ideal and for interviews you want to be able to see their eyes. I also learned about all the components that go into a video; pictures, footage, voice over, sound track, b-roll. Final Cut is pretty crazy at 1am In the RRMC (Rachel Raimist media center YAY!) but we had a lot of fun too.
I have taken away a new understanding of digital media and the power it has to inspire and enable people.
Thanks for such a wonderful class Walt and Rachel.

Syressa's Final Thoughts

Wow, I've been sitting for almost an hour trying to figure out exactly what to say. Whenever people asked me what classes I was taking this semester, it was so easy to forget to say "Digital Storytelling." Not because I didn't like this class, but because I liked it too much to think of it as work. It was this daunting journey that hid behind interactive learning and was an inescapable learning process. I learned more about my classmates in one semester than I know about my other friends, and I was able to open up and share my ideas about myself and the community that I live in. Working with the technology, we were able to build up and support ideas from and about communities of color, which is even more incredible than it sounds. To my professors and all my classmates, i want to say how proud I am of what we've accomplished. And even though that final project brought some of this to the breaking point (you know who you are:) it made for a fascinating ride and I would take this class again in a heartbeat. Its too bad its not a two part class, two semesters total. Who knows what we could come up with if we had another semester to work on new projects...

Kris' Reflection

Man... I'm glad to say that semester is over but I 'm sad that this class is over. It will missed but never forgotten. From theories we learned about truths vs. TRUTHS and how to maintain our demons from the past with a ghost box, to learning how to some what master the most-hateed computer by me Macs. But from this class I will take these skills and this hidden talent of mines to show people that stories can be bigger than just a few pictures and words. That stories can exactually say what is sometimes hard to explain to the public. It takes true courage to have someone view a digital movie especially if its your very first. Everyone's a critic but you have to look pass that and stay focus on you goal. Hardwork and commitment, like the 13 hours I spent in the FMC, will pull thorugh in the end and add strength to your skills of presenting your story as a gift.

This class has not only opened me to having another skill but has made a smoother ride of picking a major. I have decided to do a B.I.S which emphasizes Psychology, Afro studies, and New Media studies. With this major i want to try and present to the public through media the issues that our community faces.
So once again thanks Walt and Rachel for guiding me through my educational path of success and also introducing me into a new skill.

Jessica's course reflection

I have to start off by writing that Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color is and will be the best class that I have taken as a student at the University of Minnesota. I have learned so much from Walt and Rachel as well as students in the class.

As an aspiring journalist, it is my goal in reporting to make sure that I represent communities of color and serve as a voice for them. I want to make sure that I represent the underrepresented. But, with this class I have learned that I don't have to be their voice--that I can empower them with the tool of digital storytelling so that they can tell their own stories--stories that are often ignored or forgotten by the mainstream media outlets.

So...from this class I will take with me the idea of empowerment, my own empowerment through digital storytelling, and the empowerment that I can give back to the community.

Reflections on this Class

I had a great time in this class, even though there are so many artificial boundaries are created between different groups of people--races, genders, sexual orientations, cultures, etc.--we can all relate to each other through our stories...well, that and that Rachel is a hater.

Every one of us in the class comes from such different backgrounds, has had different experiences, and have lived different lives. But whether we were in the story circle or just sitting in class, everyone could relate to stories that were told.

We all have a grandparent or relative who, in our eyes, is a hero. We came from different parts of the country, but we all have experienced the same problems. We've all had unforgettable experiences with our groups of friends, no matter how different they may be.

To me, that is what this last year has been all about. The triumph of unity, tolerance, and understanding over forces that wish to divide us. This year we beat those who believe that race, gender and sexual orientation are worthwhile ways to classify people. Barack Obama stated during his victory speech that we are all Americans with a shared destiny, no matter which ways the conservative forces would like us to be divided.

Our class was a microcosm of this last year--a diverse group that comes together to make a whole. That is what I will remember--the breaking down of division between groups of people who, though traditionally divided, recognize that they have more in common with each other than they realize.


Final thoughts/Reflections

Once every few semesters you take a class that isn't the same dry academic noise. Up until this class, I haven't had a class like this since junior year of high school. I love how REAL and so connected the profs were with the students, and most of the time it didn't feel like THEY are the teachers and WE are the students. I think everyone was 100% comfortable saying exactly how they felt about topics without having to "academicize" it. I learned more about media and ways to tell stories then I think I would have otherwise in my life. I never knew how biased media can be, and it really makes me wonder what important stories are happening that they aren't telling us. I also feel that all of the readings, especially the Lambert ones, will be extremely useful in the future to reference. Everyone came from such different paths of life and it was really helpful to hear different perspectives and different stories. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories and good luck with everything in the future!

Thank you all :)

I bet if you asked anyone on the street if they knew what a digital story is, they would say yes. It is not hard to assume what it might be, but, as we all remember from the first day of class, there are many different perspectives on what a story is and means. When I first enrolled in this class, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into how difficult and meaningful it is to make a digital story. There are so many different ways one could go about creating one and in this class, I really learned to not be afraid to ‘let my voice be heard’.

Tsinu's final thoughts

out of all the classes i took in college, this is one of the few classes i enjoyed the most. I really feel like i've learned things i could use for many years to come. The very intimate class atmosphere was ideal in allowing students to learn from one another. And having instructors who are easily accessible was very helpful in the learning process.



The themes of empowerment, community activism and making sure your voice is heard--combined with the power of youth can be an awesome thing! Watch as we talk to youth in Minneapolis who are taking a stand to seek and create change in their communities.



This video is all about race and what it means through a child's eyes. She's my eight year old sister, so I want to thank her for being a part of this project.

Sounds of the Beat


Coming from the heart of the Twin Cities... Vocalist, MC, and Artist Maria Isa has been making waves in the Twin Cities and Puerto Rico.

Recently, we caught up with Maria to see what she's been up to. She gave us her take on the recent presidential election and the role of women and persons of color in politics. She also spoke about her role in society as an artist, the impact of music, and some the work she's doing in the community.

Maria Isa in her own words...

Check it out!

(Click here to watch the video.)

or go the the following link:



Final project: Radio On!


Family, Friends and Food


What brings people together more than food? I have been taught many lessons through the art of creating beautiful dishes, eating with my close communities and tying the importance of the practice of culture through food. Food is what often introduces people who are unfamiliar with your background to your culture. Even if I am not a parent yet, I strongly advocate teaching children their culture through food. Even just eating together and talking with the family is what opens up the discussions on culture, politics, family values and love that many families struggle to find.

As I reflect on this course, its funny now that I realize my first blog on my top ten favorite was done on, of course, FOOD. So funny...

Self Identity

Here's my dig story for the final project. Sorry it's late. But a quick idea on what it's about:

The main idea of this story is told through one person's point of view, and it deals with the pressures of self identity, which I think everyone of us faces. But I focused mine on being Hmong and living in two worlds. It has the idea of being unsure of what it means to be a young Hmong person living in two worlds, and the issue of wanting to embrace our past and history or cutting it from ourselves. I think this issue is very important to address and towards the end, I hoped to open the question up to Hmong youths out there.

Express Yourself


Media Mill Video

This is a exploration into Student Activism in Black communities, students talk about how prevalent it is, and why its a necessity...check it out, you might just like it, it might even make you want to get active. If you notice yourself wanting to stand up and get out of your chair, don't say I didn't warn you...

Saturday Homework help at Central


Media Mill Video

My final video project is about the Saturday homework help program at the Minneapolis Central Library. I have been a tutor at Central this past semester. This video is highlighting some of the people who attend and the importance and impact education has.

Make It Stop


Media Mill Video

This basically became a promotional video for the organization due to time and resource constraints. Enjoy

Tsinu's Final Project-Can I Live


My first plan didn't quite workout so i resorted to plan B and here it is.

Download file