UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Coming in June: Digital Storytelling Summit for high school students

Grant to UND Department of Communication will help students learn to tell meaningful stories in their communities

UND Communication professors
Soojung Kim, chair of the Communication Department, Joonghwa Lee, associate professor, and Emily Gibbens-Buteau, teaching assistant professor, are preparing to host a Digital Storytelling Summit for high school students on the UND campus. Photo by Adam Kurtz/ UND Today.

Three UND Department of Communication faculty have received a grant from the North Dakota Newspaper Association Education Foundation to hold a multi-day event in June for high school students. The project will provide opportunities to learn about journalism and multimedia storytelling.

Soojung Kim, chair of the Communication Department, Joonghwa Lee, associate professor, and Emily Gibbens-Buteau, teaching assistant professor, received more than $12,000 from the NDNA Education Foundation to create the event. That funding is being supported by a contribution of more than $8,000 from the UND College of Arts & Sciences, plus $1,000 from the Department of Communication.

The Digital Storytelling Summit will be held Monday, June 3, to Friday, June 7, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The summit will accommodate 50 North Dakota high school students on campus for the duration of the event. The event will be free for participants, and students and their parents/guardians can find more information on the Digital Storytelling Summit Facebook page.

The online application is open until March 31 and can be found on UND’s website.

Lee said he first conceived of the idea to hold such a summit after learning that his students had limited opportunities to learn how to find and produce stories for digital media, despite being natives of the digital landscape. Furthermore, he said he would like to help students understand how to create community-based digital stories in a socially responsible way.

“I hope the Digital Storytelling Summit will help high school students understand how to transform a complex issue into a memorable story on digital media,” Lee said. “Regardless of the college major they end up choosing, I hope our students will become sound and healthy digital communicators who care about local communities’ information and stories.”

Lee also said he envisions this summit becoming a regular summer program for high school students, and expanding its scope to cover scientific, health and rural health topics, as well as other topics of concern to North Dakotans such as energy, education and behavioral health.

Gibbens-Buteau agreed and said the future of digital communication continues to expand and evolve. Given this evolution, she said students need to be equipped to contribute meaningfully in creating community-based stories.

“This summit presents a fantastic opportunity to introduce high school students to the realm of communication in an interactive and hands-on setting,” she said. “For many students in rural communities, access to journalism and multimedia education is limited. The goal of this summit is to bridge that gap by offering them exposure to various aspects of the communication field while they are still thinking about their future careers.”

Outline of the Digital Storytelling Summit

  • Fifty high school students will be hosted at UND to learn how to develop community stories for local clients. The Department of Communication will invite 10 local clients including non-profits, small businesses, research labs at UND and media outlets who would like to share the students’ stories on various digital platforms. Students will be matched with a client.
  • A total of 12 UND undergraduate students will be involved in this summit as media coordinators (10), a videographer (1), and a photographer (1).
  • Students will go on a field trip to WDAY in Fargo to get hands-on experience about the broadcasting media industry and learn more about multimedia storytelling from Drew Trafton, Assistant News Director at WDAY.
  • Students will tour UND and its Esports Facility.
  • Students will learn about digital media editing, news writing, digital media literacy, and mental health in relation to digital media from experts in UND Department of Communication, the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTaDA), UND Today and the University Counseling Center.

The Digital Storytelling Summit is UND’s latest effort in advancing the cause of responsible journalism in the state and follows the recent announcement that a new journalism major will be on offer starting in the 2024-25 academic year. More information about that program can be found on the UND Program Finder webpage.

Media contact: Joonghwa Lee, 701.777.4726, joonghwa.lee@UND.edu.