Student Project Reaches Thousands of Eyes & Ears

Students in the Photography Program’s Advanced Digital Imaging (Photo 1250) class typically produce a “digital storytelling” project that combines still images (and occasionally video) with audio in an effort to combine auditory and visual media into a complete story of an event, an experience or a feeling. As the usual instructor for that course, I often tell students that they don’t know when their projects will “grow legs” and become bigger than they thought they would be when they started them.

Iowa's First National Champions

Iowa's First National Champions

When student Keith McCanless was in the course a year or so ago, he chose to create his storytelling project by culling together still images and video that he had that documented his experiences as a gymnast when he was in his “first” college career. As a student gymnast at the University of Iowa, he had been on a team that had won the very first NCAA championship that Iowa had ever had.

Keith sent a note recently that explained how his project had gone well beyond the classroom’s walls:


I see from your current 1250 syllabus that you are well into to the  Digital Story Telling project.  So this is a perfect time for me to update you on the progress that my  DVD  has made  since I created last fall in your 1250 class.   As you may remember,  I made my video from B&W stills, and 8  and 16 mm  movie films, which were almost 40 years old.  Your class gave me the opportunity to complete a project I had dreamed about for years.

You should know that my digital story telling project has lived well beyond your final exam grading.  I completely underestimated the overwhelming response that it would generate and receive at the University of Iowa.  It has inspired others to retell the whole story, something which I could not begin to accomplish in just a 14 minute DVD  (I think your assignment had a 4 minute limit, shame on me for the extra 10).

The link below will connect you to the University of Iowa’s Alumni Association’s web site.   On this site you can find a digital version of  its “Iowa Alumni Magazine”.   Normally this is an Alumni-Members-Only site, but the Alumni Association has granted open access to all for this particular article.   Once it comes up on your browser, click on the B&W gymnastics team photograph that is labeled  “Forgotten Champions”.  This will bring you directly to their featured article, which is the direct fruition of the 1250 project.   I am told by the UI Alumni Association that they will have a link established on their servers in a few days, which will allow viewing of the uncut version of the  DVD Movie that I made in your class.

The “Iowa Alumni Magazine”  has a circulation of over 50,000,  but with open access to their website,  this featured article will receive far more exposure than 50,000.   Iowa Alumni members will be receiving their hard copy December editions containing this article in the mail this week.


So, this is a great story about a great story. All of us have stories to tell and bring to the light of day. Congratulations, Keith, for bringing your story to the eyes and ears of thousands!

Here’s a link to Keith’s video piece about the Championship Season:


2 Responses to Student Project Reaches Thousands of Eyes & Ears

  1. Becky Davis says:


    WOW! I remember how much you labored over the project and how excited you were when it was completed, all technical problems solved. Great work!

  2. Dan Bassill says:

    Great job. This reinforces the concept I’ve suggested to you of having your students be the photo journalists who capture what’s happening in tutor/mentor programs connecting inner city youth with volunteers who come from far different backgrounds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: