James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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Digital Stories

Posted: January 21, 2010
By: Megan Williams

Hearing an individual talk about their struggle with a communication disorder is often more powerful than reading about it. This was the thought that professor Carol Dudding had when she started teaching an introductory Communication Sciences and Disorder class that produces “digital stories.” For three semesters she worked with students to help them produce five-minute long videos about a community member with a communication disorder.

“The aim of the project is to integrate the information from the course about the various disorders that affect communication and apply it to an individual,” Dudding said. “The hope is that students will come to view persons with disorders as individuals and not just a disorder.”

Students worked in groups of two or three to produce their videos. They interviewed their subjects, included still photos of them and action shots. A playlist of seven of the videos created by students can be viewed at http://www.csd.jmu.edu/about.html.

Topics covered by students this semester include autism, language disorder, hearing loss and childhood dysphasia, which is a difficulty swallowing. In this video the subject was toddler Zoe Isabella Kahn. Images of Zoe cooing and swatting at mobiles as a baby intermingled with images of Zoe trying to eat and with her tongue protruding. The video’s narrator explained that because Zoe has a difficult time swallowing she risks malnutrition and choking. She didn’t speak until she was 13 months old. When she did she didn’t say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ as most children do. She said ‘ow.’

Zoe is just one example of the many members of the community who suffer from a communication disorder. The Communication Sciences and Disorder major helps students better understand these individuals and their conditions. Digital Stories helps students bring to life the information they have been studying.

Besides their final video projects students also complete other assignments as well. Dudding said she had them participate in discussion forums, view videos about concussion in sports, complete personality inventories and other “standard” type assignments.

Dudding has received positive feedback from students about the format of the class. “They thought it required a lot of time but was worthwhile. Non-majors expressed that they have a greater appreciation of persons with communication disorders.”