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We're thrilled to introduce you to our new adjunct faculty member, Aaron Johnson, who will be working with us on a regular basis as lead producer of our groundbreaking new community video program Black Voices Rising! 
Starting now and into 2018 and beyond, Aaron and the DIGICOM Team will be working with members of the African-American community - young and old, teacher and student, parents and children - to produce short videos in PSUSD classrooms that illuminate the triumphs, tragedies, struggles and dreams of the black community in the city of Palm Springs and the greater Coachella Valley.  
Instead of playing video games and hanging out at the mall twelve teenagers spent the last few days of their winter break watching short films, reading scripts and learning about cinematic storytelling with DIGICOM Adjunct Faculty member and LA Screenwriting teacher, Ruth Atkinson. Ruth brought a wealth of life experience and a curriculum that ranged from character description to genre, point of view and structure. Students started brainstorming story ideas which culminated in them writing a script of their own.
Monday, 06 February 2017 00:00

DIGICOM's Winter Workshop Highlights

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During the winter break, approximately seventy Palm Springs USD teachers got their feet wet and hands dirty developing their digital storytelling skills in DIGICOM's Winter Professional Development Workshops. The five workshops offered were Beginning Digital Storytelling, Cinematic Production & Techniques, Curriculum Integration, Advanced Production Techniques, and the DIGICOM Fellowship Mid-Term Intensive.

Middle School Math Teacher partners with English Language Arts (ELA) colleague to produce a true cross-curricular digital storytelling project.

Veteran Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) teacher Colleen Veal and DIGICOM Fellow teaches Math, Special Ed and Physical Ed at Nellie Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City.  With 32 years of teaching experience and a masters degree in educational technology, Colleen has found new pathways to connect her students with the skills and strategies she's learned at DIGICOM's professional development trainings.  We sat down last month with Colleen and asked her to share her experiences.
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Teacher Profile: Mardi Hagar

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DIGICOM Fellows are among the most innovative and highly trained teachers inside Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD). The Fellowship is the the culminating program following intensive training in Basic, Cinematic, and Advanced Digital Storytelling Techniques as well as Curriculum Integration and Application training. Fellows are selected for extra support and coaching to transform their classrooms by applying 21st Century Skills & Literacies of Digital Storytelling.  

This month we sat down with Mardi Hagar, a DIGICOM Fellow and a veteran teacher for 18 years, to talk about her experiences in the Fellows program. Mardi teaches 6th Grade Honors Language Arts and Social Studies and she is a DIGICOM All Star.  

A day in the life in the DIGICOM office is hectic, creative, and full of energy.  We captured a few of the varied moments and put them together to give you a feeling for what it is like. By the way, you're always invited to come visit us in the office!

Click here or on the video below to enjoy a day in the DIGICOM office with us. 

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

Nationally Recognized Educator Confirms DIGICOM's Mission

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Mark Warschauer, founder of the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) Digital Learning Lab and Professor at the UCI Graduate School of Education recently visited our DIGICOM office and was gracious enough to sit down for an interview. 

Please click here or on the video below to learn what Dr Warschauer has to say about DIGICOM's role in education and its transformative effects on the lives of children and their families.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Teacher Profile: Sherry DiBari

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 Veteran Science and Math Teacher finds new pathways to reach her 21st Century students with video and the language of film

Reaching out to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classrooms was a key goal when selecting the Fellowship Class this year and we were looking for educators interested in sparking imagination and inquiry in their students.

DIGICOM's Winter Workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 3 through Friday, Jan. 6 from 8:00 - 4:00 at the PSUSD Service Center on Gene Autry. 

In October, Mark Warschauer, founder of the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) Digital Learning Lab and Professor at the UCI Graduate School of Education addressed the PSUSD Board of Education. Under Dr. Warschauer's leadership, UCI will be partnering with DIGICOM and PSUSD to research the impact of digital storytelling practice on student learning and teaching.

DIGICOM has opened its doors to a select group of Video Journalism students at Palm Springs High School (PSHS) for an in-depth, production oriented after school AV Club Intensive focused on the craft of documentary filmmaking.  The Club is building off of the work done this summer in DIGICOM's Summer Internship program.

Starting in October, DIGICOM is opening its doors to a select group of Video Journalism students at Palm Springs High School (PSHS) for an in- depth, production oriented after school AV Club Intensive focused on the craft of documentary filmmaking.  The PSHS Club will build off of the work done this summer in DIGICOM's Summer Internship program when high school juniors and seniors created an original documentary about AMP Camp, a youth rock and roll camp serving students across the Coachella Valley.
Our 2017 DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival this year will be held on a FRIDAY evening.
Mark your calendars NOW for Friday, May 19, 2017, 6:30 - 8:30 pm to assemble and celebrate the films made by our students and teachers at the newly-renovated Palm Springs High School Auditorium!  
The 2016-2017 THEME is ONE FOR ALL
This year DIGICOM is launching a number of new programs and we will be keeping you up-to-date on their progress.  One of the projects already in production is Black Voices Rising, funded by the Goodwin Family Memorial Trust. 
In collaboration with the Palm Springs Black Cultural committee, the James Jessie Community Center and the City of Palm Springs, DIGICOM will be working with black male youth to produce digital stories that illuminate the triumphs, tragedies, struggles, and dreams of the Black Community in the City of Palm Springs.  
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Assemble!

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Fellows in picture from left: Elaine Gershenson, MSJHS; Mardi Hagar, NCMS; Colleen Veal, NCMS; Nancy Blair, CCHS; Yvette Mocete, RMHS; Phil Carlton, CCHS; Sherry DiBari, JWMS; Tommi Jones, JWMS;  Rufino Cuevas, JWMS; Max Finneran, DIGICOM; Frank Guttler,  DIGICOM; Jessica Pack, JWMS
This May at the DIGICOM Festival, we introduced the first class of the DIGICOM Teacher Fellowship. A group of elite PSUSD teachers have pledged to work closely with DIGICOM to integrate Digital Storytelling into their regular classroom culture in the coming school year.
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Hosting THREE Film Festivals in 2017!

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We are bringing our stories to life, and we have the videos to prove it!

DIGICOM exploded into three festivals in 2016!  In addition to our annual DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival, we added DIGICOM X - our high school narrative short film festival, plus site-based DIGICOM Elementary Film Festivals - with the first launched at Della S. Lindley Elementary!

Our annual audience attending the DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival now is estimated at 1,000 a year.  With the number of high quality submissions dramatically increasing each year, we have expanded so more student and teacher work can be appreciated by a wider audience.  Hence, the additional launch of two new film festivals.

Thursday, 02 June 2016 00:00


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On June 16, 2016 at 6:30 PM in the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs DIGICOM will be hosting the very first annual DIGICOM X High School Narrative Film Festival.  The festival is being presented in association with the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

DIGICOM X is a new branch of DIGICOM which showcases and supports narrative high school filmmakers from across the Coachella Valley. For over 9 years, DIGICOM has been educating, supporting and celebrating student filmmakers at the annual DIGICOM Film Festival. The Festival has grown by leaps and bounds, with the 2016 edition hosting 1,200 seats at The Palm Springs Convention Center.  Thanks to the resounding success of DIGICOM and the growing number of high school students with a passion for narrative fiction filmmaking, the DIGICOM Film Festival is expanding with a new annual event - DIGICOM X. 

The 2016 DIGICOM X Film Festival will screen a wide variety of films, from film noir thrillers to comedic claymation vegetable warfare. This year, all films come from the Palm Springs Unified School District; but next year, the festival will be open to high schools from the entire Coachella Valley.  A select few future Spielbergs will receive awards for excellence in traditional award categories, such as Best Writer, Best Director, Best Picture, etc. The event seating will be first come first serve and is FREE.

DIGICOM X will feature live entertainment from DJ Alf Alpha (a Coachella Music Festival performer) and DTension (a band composed of 14 year olds whom have performed at
Stagecoach 2016). While the event will begin and end with live music, the real entertainment comes from the stories brought
to life by our valley students.

"For nearly a decade, DIGICOM has been active in Palm Springs' classrooms encouraging and coaching young people to raise their voices and tell their stories. DIGICOM X is just the beginning of an exciting year of growth and outreach to young filmmakers throughout the Coachella Valley. New festivals, new teachers and new voices. Welcome to DIGICOM X"   - David Vogel, CEO

To watch the DIGICOM X High School Narrative Film Festival Trailer, visit the link:

With the introduction of DIGICOM X, DIGICOM welcomes a new faculty member, Ruth Atkinson, a screenwriting advisor and story editor for Project Involve, Film Independent's (FIND) signature diversity program. Ruth will be teaching script writing classes hosted by
DIGICOM and presenting in classrooms throughout the school year. DIGICOM X will be hosted by Ruth, and DIGICOM's Max Finneran and Tim Lentz. Max is a MFA graduate film maker from NYU and Tim is a graduate of the DIGICOM Program. 

For more information on DIGICOM please visit our website at or our DIGICOM Facebook page at

To learn more about DIGICOM X, please visit our Facebook event


We are proud to report that on May 25th, the PSUSD Board of Education and Cathedral City High School (CCHS) unveiled the new name of the building that is home of the Digital Arts and Technology Academy (DATA).  "In honor of community member and DIGICOM CEO & Co-Founder David Vogel for his extensive donation of time, talent and resources to DATA, the 700 building was named the David Vogel Digital Literacy Building," proclaimed PSUSD Board President, Shari Stewart.
David started volunteering in Matt Hamilton's DATA Video Production classrooms at Cathedral City High School in 2008; the same year that DIGICOM was founded. Working with students on a daily basis, he shared his vast expertise, working with the best filmmakers in Hollywood as the President of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures, with the students.  Hamilton, now retired from the classroom, stated, "When David walked in and asked it he could help out, it was like having Michael Jordan ask if he could come and shoot some hoops with us.  My answer was YES!" Since that fateful day, David has continued to visit the DATA classroom, as well as other classrooms across the district, coaching and mentoring students as they work to learn the art of creating and producing meaningful digital stories. 
David showing how tall Jebari Wooten was when he met him.
Today, with David's leadership and vision, DIGICOM now impacts thousands of students throughout PSUSD. Over 25% of the teachers in PSUSD have received intensive DIGICOM Digital Storytelling training and are implementing the practice in their classrooms.  
Jebari Wooten, CCHS Junior, spoke movingly about the positive influence Vogel has had on his life since the 6th grade. "Mr. Vogel has had a huge influence on my life and what I want to do with it. He genuinely deserves this honor."  

"[David has] incredible amounts of dedication and love for the kids, and that's why we are honoring him today. He's a very special man." said District Superintendent, Dr. Christine Anderson.

BRAVO David!!
In addition to our regular June workshops for DIGICOM teachers and students, we are adding an extra week, June 20 - 24 to include teachers from across Riverside County. Teachers from Desert Sands, Desert Center, Beaumont, Corona-Norco and Hemet School Districts will be joining us for the FIRST Riverside County DIGICOM Workshop Series.  
During the week of June 13-17, we are looking forward to welcoming 30 new teachers in our Digital Storytelling Beginners Course and 75 returning DIGICOM teachers. Our returning DIGICOM teachers will attend customized workshops: Cinematic Production, Applied Digital Storytelling, and Curriculum Integration.

During the same week, 20 high school student filmmakers from across Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) will attend a week-long Screenwriting workshop taught by Ruth Atkinson, a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television industry. The students will be introduced to the world of screenwriting by exploring narrative structure, format, visual  storytelling, development of story and the authentic voice of the author. 


On Wednesday, May 25, Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary School organized their very own DIGICOM Film Festival.  The event, was the FIRST DIGICOM Film Festival to be produced entirely by an Elementary School! 
The young DSL filmmakers, their families, and teachers celebrated by enjoying a variety of student-created films created by   K - 5th graders. The films were screened at the Helen Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School (RMHS). The students walked the red carpet, posed for paparazzi, and received awards for their accomplishments.
Principal, Simone Kovats, was applauded for being a risk-taker and a hero to her students and teachers.  Embracing the value of digital storytelling and recognizing the efforts of her students and staff, Principal Kovats, said, "What a wonderful evening we had celebrating and recognizing our students and their teachers' digital storytelling. It was rewarding, as well as inspiring to see our school community come together in such a positive way."
DSL teachers Georgia Terlaje and Ricardo Flores were great hosts for the festivities!
The organizer of the event, Della Lindley teacher Georgia
Terlaje, reflected on the importance of the screening. "The students make these films, watch them in their classroom, and maybe a few other classes view them along the way.  But, to see the films in a beautiful theater filled with family, friends and teachers is a whole other level [of recognition]."
DIGICOM's Elementary Film Festival Producer, Donielle Gerrell, was both a former student of Della Lindley and a former student of Mrs. Terlaje. Donielle enthused, "Since I went to DSL, it's pretty amazing to see what students are now doing in classes! The students from elementary schools are excited to learn and this festival was just the tip of what they are capable of. I couldn't be more proud of all of the students and teachers!"
Festival guests were greeted by a live DJ, crafts, a Photo Booth and other activities to highlight storytelling and creativity, all organized by Della Lindley teachers, students & their parents.
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:00

Meet Our Newest Faculty Member!

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DIGICOM is proud to welcome Ruth Atkinson, a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television business as our newest Adjunct Faculty member. Ruth will be leading the Student Screenwriting Workshop this Summer. 
Ruth is a story analyst for the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Screenwriting and Directing Lab and Screen Queensland in Australia. She is also a story advisor for Film Independent's (FIND) Director's Lab as well as Project Involve FIND's signature diversity program, where she helps develop short film scripts which are produced and showcased at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
It was a triumphant night at the 2016 DIGICOM Film Festival! The community came together in force to celebrate the movies made by the students and teachers in Palm Springs Unified School District's (PSUSD) classrooms this year and to applaud the awarding of $27,000 worth of classroom grants and scholarships!
It was an evening where creativity and storytelling were the focus. Films ranged from a Star Wars parody, to human rights issues, to celebrations of love and family.  There were favorites for everyone.   
The big news of the night was the announcement of not one, but two new DIGICOM Film Festival events. The DIGICOM-X High School Narrative+ Film Festival being presented June 16 at the Camelot Theater and the launch of the first DIGICOM Elementary School Film Festival coming May 25 from Della Lindley Elementary School!
Della Lindley_s Film Festival_ May 25_ 5 - 7 pm at Rancho Mirage HS Theatre
Della Lindley's FIRST DIGICOM Elementary Film Festival will be May 25, 5-7 pm at the Rancho Mirage HS Theatre
If you missed the fun at the Convention Center you can screen all the films featured at the festival in their entirety any time at the  DIGICOM You Tube Channel.


During the DIGICOM Winter Workshops in early January, teachers were given training in DIGICOM's new tool for analyzing the crucial elements of Digital Storytelling: S.C.A.L.E. which stands for Story, Camera, Audio, Lighting, and Editing.

Since then the DIGICOM trained teachers have begun integrating the tool into their video production assignments.
On April 9 at 11:30 am at the Palm Springs Hilton Hotel, the DIGICOM Community Auxiliary is hosting our first  It's All about the Kids Luncheon and Fundraiser.
Our Community Auxiliary volunteers have prepared an experience that promises to delight and entertain!  
March 18 is the DUE DATE for all submissions to the 2016 DIGICOM Film Festival!
Directions, guidelines, and the link to the 2016 DIGICOM Film Festival Submission Form have all been posted on the DIGICOM Website at
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

DIGICOM's "My Holiday Story" Video Challenge!

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Keep your video production skills sharp during the Holiday break, make lifelong memories and win an $150 Gift Card in DIGICOM's "My Holiday Story" Video Challenge!


We want you to show and tell us your family stories, traditions and holiday fun in a 1-3 minute video shot on your mobile device during holiday break.  The winner that produces the best Holiday Family Fun Video will receive a Gift Card valued at $150!  Students and teachers across Palm Springs Unified School District are invited to participate.


  • Create a video that tells the story of your family's holiday dream trip, day trip, side trip or stay-caction.
  • The Grand Prize Winner will receive a gift card valued at $150. We will announce the winner in the February DIGICOM Newsletter.

To make the most of shooting, editing and telling your Family Holiday Story, check out the list of our 12 Days of Holiday Home Movie Tips by clicking here.

Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

12 Days of Holiday Home Movie Tips

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  1. Get Establishing Shots - Before you start filming specific events, grab a few establishing shots to set the scene. This can be either be a wide shot of the entire house or a medium shot of the front door to bring your audience right into your story.
  2. Start Rolling Before And After The Big Things Happen - The anticipation leading up to any big event and the expressions after is always a memorable one - the sparkle in a kid's eyes before their present is handed to them, the rubbing of hands in excitement as the Christmas tree is lit up, and the "oohs" and "aahs" at the lights.
  3. Film Good B-Roll - Capturing quality B-roll is important for the editing process, so try to film as much B-roll as you can get. Record the preparation of the food, the Christmas tree with all the decorations and presents, the "wreckage" of all the ripped up wrapping paper all over the house or find those quiet moments before it all begins.
  4. Collect stories - Ask your family members to share their images or special artifacts that tell of stories from Holidays past.
  5. Create a Storyline - Connect the generations of your family's holiday traditions with the voice of a documentary narrator, or construct the story arc with the beginning, middle and end of your celebration, vacation or one special day during your break.
  6. Mix Up The Action With Unconventional Perspectives - Vary your angles and try to shoot from every subject's point of view. For example, if you're going to record little children or pets running around, get down to their level. This provides a personal view into how everyone in your family is involved.
  7. Avoid Shooting in a "Phone Booth" - Shoot on the side so the image is wide. Don't forget to always shoot video in "landscape mode" on your mobile device so when played back your video will fill a horizontal screen.
  8. Ditch the Zoom! - Nothing is harder on the eyes than video that zooms or moves too fast especially in the close quarters of a living room on Christmas morning. Mobile devices are small, light and very sensitive to sudden movements so keep your shots short and your movements slow and deliberate.
  9. Get Close! - Use close up shots of your loved ones.  It will help capture and create more intimate moments.
  10. Capture the Music and Sounds of the Season - Caroling, conversations, and the general soundscape of the season can add a special depth to your stories. Use them for the soundtrack to give your story a sense of place and mood.
  11. Keep Steady - Tripods are a sure fire way to capture good steady video of parties, celebrations and special moments together.  Make your body a tripod by standing with your legs wide and elbows in or lean against a wall. Or, you could even invest in a mini-tripod for your smartphone.
  12. Have Fun! - Step out from behind the camera and be a part of your Family's Holiday Story. You will be glad you did years from now.


Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Refresh Your Holiday Movie List

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We know it's always nice to have something fresh to watch after all those re-runs of A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life, so what better time to check out ournew DIGICOM YOUTUBE Channel than over the holidays! 

Celebrate the season with the gift of our students' creativity by visiting DIGICOM's YouTube channel and sharing it with family and friends. For those family members who don't quite get what we all do together, point them towards our new video: What is DIGICOM?

While you are there, make sure you SUBSCRIBE to join our online video community and receive the latest content throughout the year.  Ask your family and friends to subscribe, too. It's the gift that will just keep on giving!

Don't you just love it when students produce great work and enjoy doing it!  That is what we saw when we walked into Georgia Terlaje's classroom at Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary School. Here you will see fifth grade students from across DSL actively engaged with each other, working as a team to create the DSL Engineer Report - the school's bi-weekly video news broadcast. 

Twenty-first century students want to be able to use new technologies to create and it's up to our teachers to make this a reality.

Sean Pendegraph, a teacher at Mount San Jacinto Alternative High School in Palm Springs Unified School District, has taken the initiative to integrate Digital Storytelling to engage his at-risk students.  Sean states, "I'm sold on the value of digital storytelling.  Within one minute of speaking about the integration of video production and the possibilities, we got the attention and enthusiasm of students who have been disengaged the entire year."

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00

DIGICOM'S First Film Salon a Success!

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We're happy to report that DIGICOM's inaugural film salon was a resounding success (in no small part thanks to Tim's artisanal popcorn recipe)!  In conversation with a sold out crowd of teachers, Max Finneran and Frank Guttler lead an interactive tour of documentary filmmaking techniques that managed to be instructive and entertaining!

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00

Four New DIGICOM Workshops Open!

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It's time to announce our next DIGICOM Learning Institute Workshops are open for registration!  The week of January 4 - 8, 2016, the DIGICOM Learning Institute will be hosting four new workshops from 8 - 3 in Palm Springs Unified School District. These intensive, five-day workshops are designed to elevate the skills of our teachers as they become Digital Storytelling Educators.

Many teachers leave a DIGICOM training excited and energized to apply the new skills & ideas they learned into their classrooms. The thrill discovering a new way of communicating content and the sudden awareness of being “literate” in the language of film lead many to re-imagine the way they teach. Few have embraced their role as Teacher/Producer as completely than Nancy Blair, English teacher in the DATA Academy at Cathedral City High School.

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