Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


High School Digital Media 2014

High School Digital Media 2014

Nina Molina came to Loyola University Chicago’s High School Digital Storytelling Workshop to become a better writer, learn to shoot and edit video, and understand how to record and edit audio.

She came away from the workshop with those skills, and also a greater understanding of Chicago and its neighborhoods.

“The workshop has more than just taught me about digital media, but also about exploring and appreciating the diverse neighborhoods of Chicago,” said Molina, a junior at Hinsdale Central High School. “Understanding the culture, food and people of these ethnic neighborhoods was a personal awakening…I had never thought my experience would be so well-rounded and fruitful.”

The goal of the High School Digital Storytelling Workshop is not only to teach students about digital technology, but also offer them a broader perspective on their world.

The High School Digital Storytelling Workshop is taught by Loyola’s School of Communication and was created in 2012 by SOC Dean Don Heider.

“We started the workshop as a way to help high school students learn more about digital storytelling and to help hone their skills with the help of faculty and our advanced students in the School of Communication,” Heider said.

But the workshop also introduces the high school students to the rich culture of Chicago, taking them to some of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

“Even though I have lived in Chicago all my life, the workshop taught me more about the different neighborhoods in the city,” said Zoe Davis, a senior at Whitney Young High School. “I think some of the best learning moments were when we were completely out of our element, interviewing complete strangers…After attending this program, I definitely know I want to pursue journalism and digital media as a career.”

Thirty students are accepted into the workshop each June, and spend a week at Loyola’s School of Communication, located near the historic Water Tower, and the heart of Chicago’s media center. Students live in an upscale high-rise dormitory in Chicago’s Gold Coast, and are engaged in a variety of activities throughout the week.

In the early days of the workshop, students are taught how to report and write an article for the Internet; how to use a video camera and create and edit a video package; and how to use audio equipment to record and create a radio story.

In the afternoon, Loyola faculty and students accompany the high school students on trips to diverse neighborhoods to interview people and create their stories. Students visited Chicago’s Chinatown and Pilsen neighborhoods, and the ethnically-diverse community along Devon Avenue in Rogers Park.


“Virtually all of the workshop was an amazing learning experience, from the morning classes to editing sessions. But the greatest parts were the actual visits to the different neighborhoods,” said Kinga Obartuch, a senior at Northside College Prep High School. “Being able to create an article, audio piece and video with the interviews was so fulfilling because I got the chance to do what ‘real journalists’ do and conduct interviews.”

Students spent the later part of the week editing their written, audio and video stories, which were posted on the Loyola Summer Stories website. The students also hosted a showcase of their work for family and friends at a closing reception.

“For me, the best moment of the workshop was seeing the joy and pride the students took in sharing their work with their families on the final day,” said Aaron Greer, Associate Professor and Director of the Film and Digital Media Program, who taught the students to shoot and edit video.


“As the students watched their parents reading, viewing and listening to their work, I think it became clear to them for the first time how much they’d done, how much they learned and how much fun they had in those five days,” Greer said.

Students also had time to enjoy some of Chicago’s top attractions. Each evening, School of Communication staff and college students chaperoned the high school students as they visited the top of the John Hancock Building, toured CBS-2 News Studio and attended a Chicago White Sox game.

“This experience was a perfect fit for me. I learned a lot, had fun, made some great friends and was inspired to pursue communications as my future profession,” said Valentina Marie Diaz-Marth, a senior at Academia Maria Reina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “The workshop not only gave me experience working in video production, journalism and radio broadcasting, it also provided me an up-close and personal insight into the culturally diverse neighborhoods in the city of Chicago.”