12448 EF: Teaching Digital Media Practice for Social Change Through University-Community Partnerships: The Problem of Timing

06/12/2015 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
The Wiltern A

Organizer: D. Andy Rice
Presenter: Vicki Callahan, David Gonzalez, Shelleen Greene

This panel focuses on the teaching of digital media practice for social change in learning environments that partner university students with local community organizations. As practitioner-theorists who teach in this area, we share the perspective that these courses “expand freedoms.” Students learn how to critically analyze media, work in a diverse team, initiate creative, inquiry-based projects, and translate social issues into a collective story. The media work that students make often functions as a tool for partnering community groups in their ongoing advocacy and outreach efforts. Working with off campus groups, however, presents structural difficulties that this panel will address. We will consider in particular strategies for managing inevitable differences in timing among the academic calendar, student learning within a course structure, and social justice projects off campus. Differences in timing, moreover, can exacerbate differences in culture. Given that stakeholders confronting key social issues like sustainability, gentrification, housing discrimination, forced migrations, wage theft, and many others work for years on actions and initiatives, how should students making media about these groups in a ten to sixteen week course represent their activities? What strategies do professors of media practice employ to deal with demands on student time to both fulfill general course requirements and represent the activities of partnering community groups that may vary in cultural disposition, regularity, scope, and intensity? To what extent should students create their documentary work so as to be “on message” in the eyes of a partner organization? And what should happen to student work at the end of a course? Participants in this panel will address questions through case studies drawn from their own teaching experiences. D. Andy Rice, in “Documenting Mobility in Los Angeles: Collaborative work in the quarter system,” will discuss learning outcomes in an interdisciplinary, capstone digital media production course structured upon group documentary projects about mobility related social issues including active transportation, lack of access to fresh food, and unhealthy food marketing. Based upon her year-long service learning project with Milwaukee’s Pan-African Community Association (PACA), in “In Another Tongue: Ethical Dimensions of Collaborative Digital Storytelling,” Shelleen Greene will discuss the production of collaborative digital stories between students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and African migrants acquiring English language proficiency. Greene contends that collaborative digital storytelling projects challenge traditional notions of the “individual” voice, giving way to new forms of agency based upon concepts of hybridity and multiplicity. Vicki Callahan’s presentation “Mapping South Los Angeles’s Past, Present, Future: Stories for Connection and Community” examines the collaboration of USC and West Adams Preparatory students (LAUSD) that produced media works – from zines to videos to games — which document, reflect, and speculate on the history and possibilities of the South LA. David Gonzalez in “Voices of Social Justice in South San Diego: After-School Programs and the Challenge of Media Participation“ reviews issues and contentions that emerged from collaborative media production between UCSD undergrads and Abraham Lincoln High School students—two groups of youth with different sociocultural backgrounds—in the context of an outreach program.

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