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Digital Media Academy empowers girls to ‘design their future’

by Judy Hughes, communications and marketing last modified Jun 09, 2014 11:07 AM

Twenty girls who just completed fifth grade will spend June 16-27 at the University of Louisville learning to refine their problem-solving and storytelling skills at the inaugural Digital Media Academy.

The English department and Liberal Studies Project are offering the free daily “Design Your Future” workshops for students chosen from Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School and J.B. Atkinson Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, a UofL Signature Partnership school.

The academy is designed to increase the girls’ problem-solving confidence and technological competence in relating their stories about what they hope to become. They will create individual videos and work in teams to produce videos that will be shown at the workshops’ end. Students will receive computer tablets to keep; the work also is intended to help combat the oft-cited “summer slide” in reading and writing skills, especially in transitioning to middle school.

Organizers hope the academy helps girls envision themselves as producers and not just consumers of technology and that they will consider education as a way to a better future.

“It’s the best sort of community engagement. It’s a very real way to connect to the local community,” said Glynis Ridley, English department chair. “This shows what we do in English and what we can do with an English degree….We don’t know what tomorrow’s technologies are going to be – but they are still going to tell stories.” 

Their leaders will be five UofL doctoral students working with English professor and community literacy advocate Mary P. Sheridan to design, teach, operate and evaluate the daily workshops; potentially publish journal articles about the results; and learn about teaching meaningfully with technology and as a team.

“I think of it as a creative, multimedia way to solve a series of problems,” Sheridan said. “Digital is the means of doing that because it’s how we live our lives.”

For more information, contact Sheridan at 502-852-6801 or mpsher04@louisville.edu.

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