Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

John Weaver

Committee Member 1

Dan Chapman

Committee Member 2

Michael Moore

Committee Member 3

Lyndall Muschell

Committee Member 3 Email



This study explores the use of digital media as three teams of middle grades students create an original film about a topic of their choosing. The impetus of the study is fueled by a personal curiosity to see how students learn when given the freedom and flexibility to research and explore outside of a standards-based environment using digital media. Equally important, I wanted to examine the participatory process; as well as how this process affected the students' views, values, and to what extent, if at all. This study was made possible due to the 2011 JOCO Film Festival. Each of the teams of students participated in the film festival which carried the theme, "and now you know the rest of the story". The study is grounded in a vast array of research as I explore the journey of the image, digital technologies, and humankind all the while viewing how each has situated itself in a postmodern, twenty-first century culture. It is with this research that I frame my study in a theoretical perspective which I have coined, digital infusion theory. I begin with technology and its questionable relations with humankind (McLuhan, 1964, Stiegler, 1998, Weaver, 2009, Lanier, 2010, Hansen, 2004, Berger, 1972, Derrida, 1974, Derrida & Stiegler, 2002). I then move into formulating aesthetic theory (Benjamin, 1935, Brownowski, 1969), image and text relationships (Heidegger, 1977, Mitchell, 1986, 2005, Ranciere, 2007, Weaver, 2009), the "theory of the present" (Manovich, 2001, Ranciere, 2006, Heidegger, 1977), and the politics with/in the image (Ranciere, 1991, 2006, 2009a, 2009b, Weaver, 2010). I identify how the "visual image" has evolved to play a dominate role in popular culture by way of digital video, possibly aiding twenty-first century students in an "intellectual emancipation" (Ranciere, 1991) mode of creative expression and learning. The methodology of the study is a critical media literacy qualitative case study. I am viewing each digitally infused case via a critical media literacy lens. Alvermann, Moon, and Hagood (1999) state that critical media literacy is about "providing individuals access to understanding how the print and non-print texts that are part of everyday life help construct their knowledge of the world" (p.1). According to Weaver (2009), "critical media literacy recognizes that images do not represent reality but shape and define reality" (p. 115). Hence, this study inquires about intertwined areas which are directly related to a student's growth in agency, participatory learning, creativity, and digital media as the collaborative teams create a film.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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