A new program sponsored by a university has middle school girls mastering technology, in contrast to the common stereotypes that only boys have these interests.
Twenty middle school girls have teamed up to learn about suing video editing software as part of a Digital Media Academy at the University of Louisville. They are also using other tools to tell stories and solve problems.
The girls are producing videos that will be shown at the university library on the last day of the workshop. They recently finished fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School and the J.B. Atkinson Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
The Digital Media Academy is the brainchild of Mary P. Sheridan, a U of L English professor who does research on community literacy, digital media and gender studies.
One of her goals, she said, is to get the girls to see themselves as people who can shape the world and move audiences to action. “How can you persuasively convey a message?”
Students are shooting footage using their phones or other equipment, such as tablets and video cameras. They also are learning how to use iMovie video editing software; GIMP, an image manipulation program; and Audacity, which is software for audio editing.
“We’ve bought all the girls tablets so when they go home, they’ll be able to do this at home,” Sheridan said. “We would like them to be designers of messages and so we need to give them the t
ools to do that.”
Sheridan obtained about $20,000 from the Liberal Studies Project at U of L to fund the academy, where participants are taught by a handful of doctoral students.
The academy is an outgrowth of Sheridan’s research interests and a desire to make sure girls and women have adequate opportunities in life.