Digital U provides community-based programs in which young people are trained in creative writing, digital technology, visual and performing arts, and other means of expressing unique and personal perspectives about themselves and their community. Participants in the program gather oral histories and/or construct personal narratives, poems, and stories that they express through the use of digital, visual, and performing arts techniques. The participants' work culminates in the creation of a DVD of their digitally documented story. Youth then explore how their creative works can contribute to community development and dialogue. Furthermore, students explore the use of technology and the arts as tools to become leaders and advocates on behalf of the community they call home.

Why Digital U Speaks to Young People

  • We understand that young people live in the age of new media
  • We employ hands-on expressive/creative curricula
  • We engage youth on topics/themes that relate to their everyday lives
  • We introduce new technologies/skills to communicate THEIR ideas and stories
  • We invite young people to help shape the content of the program, increasing buy-in and investment in the project

Digital U Mission Statement

We strive to engage kids early in digital arts/new media as a tool for personal expression. Through Digital U, young people are exposed to concepts of personal voice, identity, community, and advocacy in three core areas:

  • Creative Writing - Using interviews, poetry, and narrative, students learn to gather information, write, compose, and disseminate compelling stories in a variety of creative formats.
  • Technology - Using digital storytelling techniques, including digital video, digital imagery and digital audio, students learn to express voice and identity using a blend of technical and creative elements.
  • Performing and Visual Arts - Employing elements of collage, music, spoken word, movement, and physical performance, students develop connections between visual/performing arts and self expression, visual literacy, and community engagement.

Within the Digital U program, youth preserve, honor, contribute to, and share the value of community through advocacy and creative expression.

Background of Digital U

For two years, the University of Central Florida's Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment (CREATE) has delivered comprehensive digital storytelling programs to young people throughout Orange County, Florida. These programs grew out of an effort to provide youth with a platform and the skills to powerfully express themselves about their lives and issues in their community.

Digital U enjoys strong community partnerships, offering month-long digital storytelling programs for young people in neighborhoods with high rates of teenage pregnancy, juvenile crime and child abuse rates, and poverty. Digital U's innovative programs incorporate theatre and visual arts in addition to technology and digital media as creative approaches to developing voice and communicating story.

Digital U Structure

Intensive Summer Programs
Term: 4-weeks, full day program
Goals: Develop core skills in digital storytelling, digital audio, and digital imagery. Introduce concepts of narrative, visual, and performance-based expression. Introduce creative tactics for expressing voice and identity.

After-school Programs
Term: 1 day per week, 2-3 hours
Goals: Develop core skills in digital storytelling, digital audio, and digital imagery. Introduce concepts of narrative, visual, and performance-based expression. Introduce ideas of composition, collage, improvisation, and the use of technology as tools for community engagement and advocacy, as well as for expressing voice and identity. Work toward creating digital stories for communication and community engagement and dialogue.

Standard Program Deliverables

  • DVD documenting student stories, interviews, poems and other creative work
  • Community showcase of student work
  • Standardized Digital U curricula
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Picture of boy with camera
Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment • College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Central Florida
UCF Center for Emerging Media • 500 Bentley Street Orlando, FL 32801 • Phone: 407-235-3603 • Website Technical Support: