Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Multimedia storytelling program in Italy

I just returned from teaching in a summer multimedia storytelling program in Cagli, Italy and wanted to share a bit about the experience.

The four-week course for American undergraduate and graduate students was sponsored by the Institute for Education in International Media and Temple University.

This was the program’s sixth summer in Cagli, a small hilltown in the Marché region of Central Italy. If you close your eyes and picture a charming Italian village, you’ll get a pretty good vision of Cagli – cobblestone streets, flowers cascading from windowboxes, a piazza around every other corner. During the day, men sit on the stone wall in front of city hall, catching up on the day’s news. In the evenings families come down to the main piazza to meet neighbors and indulge in a cup of gelato. Cagli’s far off the tourist track, so we were able to soak up true Italian culture for the month.

During the four weeks, the students studied Italian language, intercultural communication, storytelling for the Web (which I co-taught with longtime foreign correspondent Douglas Mine), video, digital photography and Web design. At the end of the project they created a Webzine about the town, capturing stories of the local community. This year students trekked along with a dog hunting for truffles, documented the annual flower-strewn Corpus Christi procession, listened to opera students rehearse for performances at the 130-year-old opera house, and watched a chef make his personal take on melone e prosciutto.

It’s a neat way to learn multimedia because students work in teams to produce four stories -- each student is responsible for completing a short video, a text story, a photo package and a Web page for one of the stories. Students also have time for more informal interaction with Cagli's shopkeepers and residents; each summer they chronicle their experiences in a blog, Cagli Adesso.

This summer we had 33 students from American universities, including Temple, Loyola University in Maryland, Gonzaga University in Spokane, St. Louis University, West Virginia University, Bennett College and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Several of them, including Kathryn Gregory of the The Daily Athenaeum (West Virginia University) and Aziza Jackson of The Bennett Banner (Bennett College for Women) were college newspaper editors.

Later this summer the Institute for Education in International Media will put on a similar program in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

We’re already beginning to plan for next summer. The program will almost certainly return to Cagli, but we’re also looking at potential sites in France and Spain. If you want more information about the program, feel free to email me at kanigel (at)

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