Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


High School Digital Storytelling Workshop 2015

High School Digital Storytelling Workshop 2015

Storytelling in the 21st century requires strong writing and social media skills, the ability to shoot and edit video, and an understanding of how to record and edit audio.

The Loyola School of Communication High School Digital Storytelling Workshop offers students an opportunity to develop those skills and something more: the chance to spend a week exploring Chicago.

“The idea behind the workshop is to get students some outstanding, hands-on experience in digital media and to allow them to go find great stories in Chicago neighborhoods they might not otherwise visit,” said Don Heider, Dean of Loyola’s School of Communication, who created the workshop in 2012.

Consider the most recent workshop, which took place June 14-19. Thirty high school students from across the Midwest spent a week learning digital storytelling at Loyola’s School of Communication, located near the historic Water Tower, and the heart of Chicago’s media center.

Each morning, experienced faculty taught students how to report and write a news article and post it on 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 afternoons, faculty and college mentors accompanied the high school students on trips to diverse neighborhoods to interview people and create their stories. Students visited Chicago’s Chinatown, the Pilsen neighborhood, home to a strong Hispanic community, and Wicker Park, a historic magnet for Polish immigrants. During the tours, students posted photos and commented about their experiences on Twitter.

Each evening, students left their high-rise dorm and toured some of Chicago’s most famous attractions, including a trip to the John Hancock Observatory and a boat cruise on Lake Michigan, which featured a fireworks show.

“It’s a way for students to experience college,” said Meghan Ashbrock, the School of Communication Events Coordinator, who plans the annual workshop. “They get to live in a dorm, take classes with our faculty and experience what’s it’s like to be in the city.”

Students enjoyed the challenge of telling stories about Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

“I really enjoyed going to Chinatown to take video interviews of the people there. It was very hard to find people that would let us interview them, but once we did, it was very rewarding,” said Roy Purdy, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. “I also enjoyed interviewing people with audio recorders, because although I've recorded audio before, I had never used anything like the audio recorder we used and had never done interviews like that.”

Students also had a chance to improve their writing.

“I think the best learning experience I had was writing the feature story on Wicker Park,” said Jillian Berndtson, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan. “I had never written a feature story before, so the editing and feedback the professors gave me helped a lot. It was a really authentic experience and made you feel like a news reporter.”

‌The final stages of the workshop involved students editing their written, audio and video stories, and posting them on the Loyola Summer Stories website. The students also hosted a showcase of their work for family and friends at a closing reception.

Workshop instructor Eleni Kametas was impressed with how much students learned and the quality of their final projects.

 “The high school workshop empowers students by giving them the tools and experience needed to tell stories through the art of audio, video and the written word,” said Kametas, General Manager of WLUW 88.7 FM, Loyola’s student radio station. “It’s helping them to create a well-rounded portfolio that can be used when applying to colleges.” 

A full gallery of photos from the workshop may be viewed here.