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Storytelling goes digital

Faculty propose new digital storytelling degree

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A new degree in digital storytelling is in the works that would train students in the art of narration while providing hands-on experience with the technologies of digital production. 

“We want to give students the ability — and agility — to adapt to changing technologies,” says Pat Okker, an English professor helping to spearhead the proposal, which has support from several professors across campus.

That agility will come in part from learning strong writing and storytelling techniques that are critical to media, from YouTube videos to Twitter, she says. 

Okker expects the group to submit the proposal for the new major to the University of Missouri Board of Curators this spring. The curriculum will likely feature courses on five key skills: writing, narrative theory, media literacy, visual design and video production. 

The major would be interdisciplinary, with courses taught through units including English, communication, journalism, art, information technology, film studies, theater and architectural studies. 

Digital storytelling could appeal to would-be journalism students who are interested in multimedia but don’t want to be confined to news reporting, says Charles Davis, associate professor of journalism and facilitator for the Mizzou Advantage Media of the Future initiative. 

To build the curriculum, Davis and Okker met with employers — from local filmmakers and production companies to corporate giant Hallmark — and asked  what they’re looking for in graduates. 

“Hybrid skills are crucial,” Okker says. “They want someone who can move between the conceptual, the visual and the verbal and who is equally comfortable in all three.”

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