The Many Voices for Darfur project would never have had the same effect in the pre-digital age. I’m convinced that the ability to not only gather research as news unfolded in the Sudan but also to engage in social action on an important global issue gave my young writers incentive and room to engage themselves as learners at a level that would not have been equaled with a traditional research paper. The use of multiple mediums to get their message across – from writing to podcasting to images to music –collectively tapped into their roles of composers of information and mirrored the worlds in which they live. The construction of their ideas was shaped by the media and when they blogged with hundreds of other students on the same issue, they experienced the sense of being part of something much larger than themselves – they were players on the global stage and aware of the possibilities for action.
That said, I have periodically experienced some discomfort with the music video we made (see the resource a few links back) and when I talked about the Darfur project at a professional development gathering and showed the video, one teacher complained that we had exploited the situation for a classroom project that seemed to minimize the horrendous situation. She may have had a point, although it was not intentional. I still believe that my students learned more about the world than they would have without this project, but I would aim to be more sensitive in the future about the ways we use media for learning when it deals with an issue on such a significant scale of human catastrophe.