IamWe: Digital Storytelling, Personal Journeys, and Praxis

Document Type


Creation Date



Pedagogy, Digital Storytelling, Classroom Instruction, Ethnographic Studies, Theory


In 2007 a college professor and a high school teacher began to forge connections between their high school and university by giving high school youth the opportunity to share their stories through digital storytelling. They developed a program named IamWe by the high-school youth who participated in a digital storytelling workshop. IamWe became part of a Texas high school PALs (Peer Assistance Leadership) class. Through this program over 100 high school students produced their own digital stories and developed Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects about their school and community. In this chapter, we discuss the practice of digital storytelling as it relates to personal growth among high school youth who were part of the IamWe program. Our discussion draws on data collected for an assessment conducted during the 2010-2011 academic year, although examples are also drawn from observations and interviews gathered throughout a nine-year period. We analyze digital storytelling and contribute to scholarly discussions that emphasize the pedagogical opportunities that digital storytelling offers to integrate technology and meaningful learning activities in classroom settings (Heo, 2009; Kajder, 2004; Miller, 2010). In the IamWe program the effectiveness of digital storytelling was integral to the process of creating a digital story – a series of activities that helped youth construct meaning and facilitate multiple border crossings or “personal journeys” that encouraged trust and empathy among the youth. As the high school youth participated in trust building activities, a story circle, and the process of digitizing their stories, they found commonalities and differences between their lives and the lives of their classmates. The activities fostered what we theorize as dialogical encounters or pedagogical opportunities for reflections and actions that helped the high school youth listen and share diverse experiences with the assistance of media technology.