Community digital story project: George community needs
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This study details a Digital Story Community Project undertaken by the Centre for Innovative Education and Communication Technologies of the University of the Western Cape, which took place in George (South Africa) in November 2014. The aim was to explore, via digital stories, the authentic needs of vulnerable community sectors by engaging with representatives, leaders and activists from those sectors, while equipping them in turn with transferable skills in the production of digital stories. Digital stories proved to be an excellent tool for community need identification, while simultaneously building digital skills among community members in a range of areas such as storyboarding, script writing, image preparation, and voice recording. A Sociocultural Constructionist and Asset-Based Community Development theoretical approach underpinned this research and proved an excellent fit for the creation of community narratives. A mixed methodology was adopted in this empirical study, relying primarily on qualitative data with quantitative support. Qualitative measures include pre- and post-survey questionnaires, facilitators’ observations during the workshop, participant feedback within an online discussion forum, as well as the perceived impact and application of digital stories. The skills attained, community needs and solutions produced, and the potential contribution of ICTs in these are also discussed. Supporting quantitative measures are drawn from an analysis of responses to the pre-and post-survey questionnaires and attendance numbers during the workshop. Identified needs clustered around four interrelated themes: youth, economic challenges, substance abuse, and healthcare. The use of digital stories in identifying community needs, in a theoretically sound manner, is recommended in future research focusing on community development. It is no longer possible or desirable to speak on behalf of communities in relation to their development needs, and the digital story eTool is appropriate for obtaining authentic community data, while building skills.