Digital Alchemy: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Investigation of Digital Storytelling for Peace and Justice
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This study explores the experiences of undergraduate students enrolled in an education I-Series (University of Maryland undergraduate courses designed to inspire innovation, imagination, and intellect) course, Good Stories: Teaching Stories for Peace and Justice. In this course students are asked to produce digital stories that project themes of peace and justice. The locus of this study focuses on the essential question: In what ways do participants world their experiences producing digital stories for peace and justice? The methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology is employed in order to elucidate interpretive understandings about digital storytelling for peace and justice in the experiences of nine undergraduates over the course of one semester. The metaphor of alchemy is used since the practice of alchemy entailed amalgamating base metals in the hopes of transmuting them into gold. Jung (1968) likens this process to our experience of becoming individuated, whole, and healthy human beings. Digital media amalgamates image sound and written text in order to enhance narrative, making it an apt metaphor since it captures the synergism inherent in both the metaphor of alchemy and the multimodality inherent in digital stories. The methodological practices for this inquiry employ van Manen's (1997) human science research. This inquiry elucidates the participants' experiences on being students of digital media in addition becoming agentive knowers capable of projecting digital stories for the purposes of peace and justice. The conspicuousness of developing the technological know-how of producing digital media also takes particular precedent in this study. Themes of the ways in which students are concerned by being students, producing digital stories the "right" way, and developing particular stances on their understandings of peace and justice are disclosed. Additionally, the pedagogical implications for designing teaching and learning of digital media are discussed. These implications focus on ways educators may develop pedagogical tact in engaging and apprenticing students in digital media. These pedagogical understandings may open possible opportunities for classrooms to be transformed into digital media studios where students develop critical stances through the practice of digitally designing narratives for the purposes of extending care, caring, and caring for others to possible global audiences.