Student Videos Ready to Roll

Apr 23, 2021

The annual digital storytelling premiere is set for April 28.

digital stories

Another collection of fascinating video stories from the region’s historical societies and organizations will debut at 7 p.m. April 28 via Zoom. 


The event continues a partnership that began in 2013 between Cal U and the Senator John Heinz History Center Affiliates Program. 

Each year, students in Dr. Christina Fisanick’s Honors English program reach out to some of the 125 regional historical societies and organizations that participate in the Affiliates Program to highlight their collections. 

“Our students learn to work with primary sources, to improve their writing and to work with people they don’t know in a professional manner,” Fisanick said of the benefits. “It also acquaints our students, many of whom are from this area, with their own histories.” 

The historical societies and organizations, in turn, use the videos to encourage interest and increase awareness. 

This year, 23 students worked in teams to create nine projects from the Fayette County Historical Society, the Meyersdale Library/Meyersdale Historical Society, the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, the Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp., the Bethel Park Historical Society, the Duncan and Miller Glass Museum, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, and the Fayette County Historical Trust/Connellsville Canteen. 

The partnership between Fisanick and Robert Stakeley, who manages the Affiliates Program, has resulted in a new book, Digital Storytelling as Public History: A Guidebook for Educators, from Routledge

“Bob and I realized that what we’ve done with the students and the historical societies has been very successful in terms of teaching students but also giving those organizations material that they can use to encourage people to come in and check out their sites,” Fisanick said. 

Each chapter includes a “Going Virtual” section. 

“Because we finished up the book during the beginning of the pandemic, we added ways to adapt each chapter to the online environment,” Fisanick said. 

“We tried to present it in a way that it would be accessible to people at museums, in classrooms, or in other settings who want to tell stories about history that matters to them using artifacts and other info from their collections.”