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Children are constantly making meaning out of their imaginative play, especially between the ages of 3 and 8. Providing an opportunity to make a "movie" out of these imaginative worlds appeals to the center of children’s lives, validating their play and empowering them to become media makers. The goals of Digital Story Workshop are:

• to empower young children by highlighting their own imaginative play,

• to facilitate meaningful artistic collaborations between adults and children,

• to contribute meaningful curricular material to classrooms,

• to connect children from different neighborhoods, cities and countries to each other,

• to provide exciting and creative media that complements the educational goals and creative whimsy of children's television but that takes the production process to a much deeper level for the child.

Through the creative, improvisatory process of making a video story, children can work together to produce something that is deeply meaningful to them, adding to the world around them a visual and auditory record of vital moments in their lives.

The research behind Digital Story Workshop:

Ed.M. Thesis: Children's Video Stories: Using Digital Video to Empower Young Chldren's Imaginative Play
Kristin Brenneman Eno, 2004
Research question:

How can video be used to create a more meaningful alternative to current mainstream children’s television programming, for children between the ages of four and eight? What do children gain from personal video stories that they cannot gain from this type of television?

DSW supports children's imaginative play through creative video making. Such practice falls within the natural progression of educational theory, as seen within the work of these educators and researchers:

Lev Vygotsky, Russian educational psychologist: teacher as facilitator, helping children to reach toward their deepest levels of development.

John Dewey, father of progressive education. Every child's lived experience should be at the heart of her education.

Vivian Paley, veteran kindergarten teacher and writer, one who listens to children's stories. A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, Bad Guys Don't Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four, You Can't Say 'You Can't Play,' The Girl with the Brown Crayon, the Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter, Wally's Stories: Conversations in Kindergarten.

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy. Collaborative, problem-solving approach to early childhood education. Educational efforts of Reggio Emilia staff and colleagues across the globe have continued his legacy. US Reggio Alliance.

George Forman, professor emeritus (UMass), Reggio scholar, co-founder of Videatives, Inc (text + video clips). "Instant video revisiting" in the early childhood classroom helps students and teachers learn to "see what children know." Read Forman's Instant Video Revisiting and Wondering with Children journal articles (in Spanish).

Gunilla Lindqvist, Swedish play scholar. The Aesthetics of Play: A Didactic Study of Play and Culture in Preschools. Philadelphia: Coronet Books. (1995).

David Buckingham, JoEllen Fisherkeller, Joseph Tobin, David Gauntlett, scholars who are helping children and adults develop dynamic relationships with media.

• Wendy Ewald, Literacy Through Photography.

• Children's TV based on research about how kids learn: Sesame Workshop.

Digital Story Workshop responds to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which states that children have the right to voice their opinions and have acces to media that children can understand.
Article 13: The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
Article 17: States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall: Encourage international co-operation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources.

Digital Story Workshop delves into many aspects of the child’s personality and potential. The program aims to give parents, teachers and children opportunities to see children as:

• creative participants in and transformers of popular culture; creators of social change (Henry Jenkins; Epskamp & Swart; Mike)
• performance artist, participating in a democratic dialogue  (Charles Garoian)
• media-maker (Wendy Ewald)
• postmodern (displaced) thinker (Jean Baudrillard)
• media critic (Henry Jenkins)
• imaginative player (Brian Sutton-Smith; Vivian Paley)
• participant in adult-assisted play (Trawick-Smith; Rowe, et. al.)
• interactor with media (George Lessor, model of Sesame St. and Zoom), with other children (JoEllen Fisherkeller), and with culture (Jenkins)
• re-framer of current roles of media-consumer and victim (Comstock, 1991; Mike, 1997)

Digital Story Workshop diverges from the current definition of "Digital Storytelling," as defined by the Center for Digital Storytelling and the Digital Storytelling Association, in that we produce videos that read as films, rather than as multimedia stories. We always incorporate voiceover narration from the children who participate, so in that sense, the work corresponds to the accepted definition of "digital storytelling." Digital Story Workshop is currently in the process of changing its name to include both the concepts of "children's imagination/fantasy play" and "international."

© digital story workshop: kristin brenneman eno 2008
brooklyn ny usa
347 564 0213
kristin@digitalstoryworkshop.org