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Ohler Wins WOW Award

A group that champions the use of technology in higher education has presented UAS faculty Jason Ohler with an international award.

“It’s not about glitz or money but the power of story and getting kids to speak in their own digital language, combining traditional and emerging literacy in what I call the DAOW of literacy (Digital Art Oral Written).” — Jason Ohler

“It’s been my privilege to witness SOCAP’s profound impact on a diverse high school student population. The rebellious, the isolate, the emotionally impaired, and the naturally talented discovered the hero within through the art of digital storytelling. The Story of Culture and Place program bridges the achievement gap.” — Barbara Cadiente Nelson, K-12 native student success coordinator, Juneau-Douglas School District.

A group that champions the use of technology in higher education has presented UAS faculty Jason Ohler with an international award. The Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) Outstanding Work (WOW) Award recognizes the innovative uses of educational technologies in higher education.

The University of Alaska Geography Program and the University of Alaska Southeast Stories of Culture and Place (SOCAP) program that Ohler began encourages students to create media by telling their own stories. “In the digital age, being able to just “read” the web, movies and other media does not suffice,” said Ohler. “We also must be able to write them if we are to share in their empowerment and critically evaluate their impacts on society.”

According to the project Website (, “SOCAP helps students, teachers and community members read and write new media using common, inexpensive digital tools. SOCAP helps participants research, create, illustrate and perform original new media stories about their cultures, communities, academic pursuits and personal lives. SOCAP stresses the power of narrative first, tools second, using technology to support the story, rather than the other way around.”

The statewide project was created as the main focus of Ohler’s five years as a UA president’s professor in Juneau, Petersburg, Nome, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Wasilla, Haines, Klukwan and other communities.

SOCAP got kids to tell their stories using new media to improve literacy, explore academic areas, explore personal and cultural issues and to promote health. Ohler helped kids plan, perform and write stories that they converted to new media format using free software.

“I’m very proud of all the work teachers and students did,” said Ohler. Jason Ohler has published a book, "Digital Storytelling" and a number of articles. He frequently presents at Alaskan and national education conferences.


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