What I Want To Do, And What I Need To, Aren’t Always Separate Entities

My experience at the Atwater Library has been completely undefinable. I struggle to put into words how much the experience has meant to me, and the amazing time that I have had working here over the past six weeks. I have learnt something new everyday and I have spent it doing what I love.

I am a big believer that anyone can learn how to use technology. Most people already have some of the necessary skills without realizing it. We are working to give everyone the same tools, and by doing so help bridging the technological divide. However, everyone has something to learn, and technology moves at such a breathtaking speed that there is no one who can say that they don’t have anything left to learn.

I had the opportunity to speak on CBC to promote the Creative Digital Media Workshop Series. While on air I spoke about the importance of Digital Citizenship, and how, just like in the real world, we have to teach people how to properly conduct themselves online. The importance of online communities is undeniable. In a society that is putting more and more of their personal thoughts and lives on the internet it is necessary to teach how to respect the person on the other side of the screen. We can form connections in a millisecond, forming relationships with people across the world, but we have to remember that there are people on the other side of the computer. Not just binaries.

One of the ways to do this is to teach Digital Citizenship. For every workshop we had over the past few weeks we opened the dialogue for ethical photo taking and sharing. By creating a fun medium to explore these topics in we were able to open the discussion in a way that everyone was comfortable exploring.

Not only is the ethical side of Digital Literacy important but so are the sheer amount of possibilities available to those who use computers. Creatively they can suit almost anyone’s tastes. Allowing for development in projects that focus on poetry, photography and video, music, art, and literature anyone is able to spice up their work in a few hours. Digital art is often forgiving enough that beginners are also comfortable with making mistakes and trying new things.

Through Digital Citizenship we are working to build confidence, both online and off, and digitally is a great place to do so—There are many online communities that foster positivity and kindness.

We have had a diverse amount of people who showed up to all our workshops.  We had people who were comfortable using their computers and cameras, and people who had never touched one in their lives. From children to seniors, everyone explored different forms of expressing themselves!

Leaving after six weeks, I can’t help but relate my experience to my present self as an Honours English and Creative Student; as well as my future self, the author and Professor I aspire to be. There are very few jobs at my current level that could give me the experience I need for furthering my education and my future career. I want to spend my life doing what I love and the only way I can do that is by practicing, and building my practical knowledge. The Atwater Library has given me that opportunity. Rather then committing myself to a career path I didn’t know for certain I would enjoy, I can commit myself to it knowing that I will love it. Interning at the library has shown me how much can be accomplished by hard work, and how rewarding it is to teach someone something new. Just like in the workshops where our goal was to learn skills that can be applied in daily life or to future projects, I have learnt skills that I will be able to use for myself!

2014 Rewind

2014 was a great year for the Digital Literacy Project. We made many new partners and expanded our programs in new and interesting ways.

Here are some of the highlights:

We worked with Gerald McShane Elementary School in Montreal North to help them explore four different learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic) through digital media such as video, PowerPoint and animation.

In early January we conducted a workshop for the clients of the Tyndale St-Georges Little Burgundy Employment Centre about social media, internet privacy and how to build a positive online identity.

With funding from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program, we offered a series of workshops aimed at empowering musically-oriented seniors to use computers and later teach others to use computers to record and create music. The workshops were facilitated by Eric Craven and Peter Shaw, a student in theatre at Concordia University, with the collaboration of Line Grenier, a professor in Communication studies at Université de Montréal.

The participants impressed us with a wide range of musical expression that was inspiring and challenging. You can hear some of the work that was made  their Soundcloud page Alt-Together. as well as video featuring one of the projects called “Fried Brains”.

Through our connection with ACT (Ageing + Communications + Technologies) Eric Craven and Dr. Line Grenier had the opportunity to co-present a paper about the project at the European Communication Research and Education Association Conference (ECREA) in Lisbon in November 2014 as part of a panel called “New Media and Older People – Age, Narratives and Normativities.”
Check out the trailer and another video we made for this presentation.

While in Portugal,  Eric Craven  also  gave a talk entitled “Digital Culture and Community” at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Madeira-ITI).

For most of the year, we worked with youth from diverse backgrounds to make videos about pluralism. At certain points of the year, this was hot button issue due to the public debate about the proposed Charter of Values. For this project, we collaborated with Trisha Islam and Rana Salah to connect with youth in the community. We held talks, screenings, and workshops at the Library and around the city. In the end, we made over 30 videos. You can check them out on our pluralism video site.

We worked with  Bienvenue à Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to offer digital skills development related to community event planning. There were 2 sessions, one in English and one in French, participants came to the Library once a week for 10 weeks. We covered general computer skills, elements of graphic design and social media marketing.

We collaborated with visual artist Romeo Gongora’s project Just Watch Me at Concordia University’s Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery.  Digital Literacy Project facilitators Rana Salah and Nina Pariser did three poetry and digital media workshops and also screened videos from our recent Youth Pluralism Video Project

On September 21, 2014, we set up at Empire Exchange in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood and did a green video workshop as part of the POP Montreal International Music Festival’s Kids POP Crawl. Check out what the kids did.

We partnered Concordia University’s Theatre and Development program for the third time in three years. Students in a course called “The Neighbourhood Theatre” connected with two graduate studies seminars from different disciplines under the name “The Right to the City: Cross-disciplinary pedagogy and the politics of Montreal’s South-West.”  We  supported this initiative by connecting the students to our partners and helping them create an online “digital reflection” of the experience through social media, video and photography. On November 29, 2014, the students showed their work to the public in Pointe Saint-Charles. See the student’s work on The Right to the City website.  Earlier in the year, Concordia University made a video our  previous collaboration for their Spotlight on Community Engagement series.


Digital Literacy Project @ Kids POP 2014 – Green Screen Fun

On Sunday September 21, we set up at Empire Exchange in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood and did a green video workshop as part of the POP Montreal International Music Festival’s Kids POP Crawl.

Check out the what the kids did.




Poetry and Digital Photography @ “Just Watch Me”

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, Digital Literacy Project facilitators Rana Salah and Nina Pariser conducted a poetry and digital photography workshop as part of Just Watch Me at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia University.

Participants learned some photography techniques, did some writing exercises and  wrote poetry inspired by their own photographs.

Here are some snapshots of the participants taking pictures and writing poetry.











World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 2014 @ Atwater Library


Last Thursday, June 19 we hosted a very successful event to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in partnership with RECAA (Respecting Elders: Communities Against Abuse), the Contactivity Centre and Concordia University’s ACT (Ageing, Communications, Technology). There was performances, poetry readings and digital media presentations by elders for elders.


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