Sasha Fight, a teacher in Hopkins County, is certain that her experience in the Dataseam Teacher Track at the 2015 Mountain Workshops will benefit her and her students for the rest of their lives.
"Storytelling for me will be a process, a lifelong experience," she said, while participating in the four-day workshop in Kentucky's capital city of Frankfort.
"We're learning at the feet of the masters here, from people who are so good at their craft," said Fight, a teacher in Hopkins County. "We get to listen to them, have one-on-one conversations with them . . . We're learning not just how to tell a digital story, but how to tell it well."
Working with Western Kentucky University's annual workshop for students of visual journalism, Dataseam selects an average of eight K-12 teachers for free one-on-one coaching by professionals in multimedia skills. The teachers are given four computers for use in their schools. Ultimately, the students benefit.
"For hundreds of years, coal drove the Kentucky economy. Today, it's data driving it," said Chief Operating Officer Henry Hunt, explaining the origin of Dataseam's name — replacing seams of coal with seams of data. He maintains that today's students need communication skills to be able to tell their stories and succeed in any occupation.
In return for the Mountain Workshops' sharing of professional expertise, Dataseam lends computers to Mountain Workshops – 89 in 2015 – for their weeklong project. The loaner computers come from funds provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, earmarked for development in coal regions. K-12 students in Kentucky are the end users of the computers.
In its eight-year existence, Dataseam has placed over 17,500 computers in Kentucky schools, engaged more than 6,000 educators in training and professional certifications, awarded over $1.8 million in college scholarships and worked with 200 schools in 54 participating school districts and three universities to transform the use of technology in public schools.
Working with the Dataseam Teacher Track differs from coaching Mountain Workshops photojournalism participants, according to Mark Osler, WKU graduate and freelance photographer in Denver, Colorado, who was working his fourth Dataseam Teacher Track at the 2015 Mountain Workshops.
With the K-12 teachers, "We start with fundamentals – over- and under-exposure, how to frame a picture, vocabulary," he said. "They're trying to learn the skills of storytelling and photography they can use in schools."
Osler aims to build a common ground. Despite the different experience level between the K-12 teachers and would-be photojournalists, he believes "there is a hunger on both sides" for good photojournalism skills.
Greg Moore, who teaches enrichment classes at Adams Middle School in Floyd County, attended two Dataseam Teacher Track workshops and liked them so well he returned as a paying participant of the Mountain Workshops in Somerset.
"As soon as I get a chance, I'm coming back," he said recently. "You have forever changed the way I will look at things and the way I treat my students. If I can impact their lives and help them pursue their dreams, even a fraction of what you have for me, my time won't be wasted."
Dataseam's education mission started when Dean Hughes, telecommunications businessman, and Brian Gupton had an idea for expanding Kentucky's significant investments in computers and network for K-12 schools into a large network of computers to work collectively for economic growth and development. Gupton wove education into the plan. To add a business perspective, they recruited fellow entrepreneur, Henry Hunt. Gupton, now Dataseam chief executive officer, and Hunt set out to convince state policymakers and legislators to support a program that would increase economic opportunity for Kentucky students.
By the end of the 2015 Dataseam Teacher Track, Lori Corbin, Webster County school media specialist, was a believer.
"The kids see me as their tech go-to person," she said. "By the end of the day, I knew I could do this."
Each October, a group of visual journalists set up shop in a different community in Kentucky to document life and culture in a way that is rarely attempted. Raw and live, it’s all about the people and their stories, not the institutions. It’s called the Mountain Workshops, and dozens of students and professionals from around the country swoop in for a week every year to garner new skills and fresh inspiration.
It’s a crash course in visual journalism.
Participants can choose from one of six options for the week. Photojournalism, the original workshop at Mountain, has always been a big hit, but Video Storytelling is increasingly in demand. If you wish to increase your knowledge in other visual skills, the Mountain Workshops can deliver. Picture Editing pushes a traditional skill set of image selection and book design into the digital age, while Time-Lapse takes us into a fascinating world of compressed time through motion. The Data Visualization workshop probes the masses of abstract charts and numbers to create stories that affect real people.
A special workshop for K-12 educators is hosted by Dataseam, a Louisville-based nonprofit that provides resources for Kentucky educators. The Dataseam Teacher Track workshop is designed to help high school teachers looking to develop their students’ communication skills to tell their own stories.
Six workshops held in one location, in one week, with a constant flow of new ideas and one-on-one guidance by the top professionals in their fields, all add up to an intense five days of high-octane education in visual communication and storytelling.
Location is still being determined
"What I've learned here has revolutionized my classroom."
Beth Travis, Muhlenberg County High School
The Mountain Workshops does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, gender, national origin, religion, disability, protected veteran status, political affiliation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, in any of its activities or operations. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, faculty, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, members of the host community and participants.
Western Kentucky University and the Mountain Workshops complies with Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all programs and activities (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) in the University’s educational programs and activities.
Title IX states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title IX also prohibits retaliation for asserting or otherwise participating in claims of sex discrimination.
Discrimination, sexual harassment and misuse of power or position will not be tolerated at the Mountain Workshops. We remain committed to providing a quality educational experience in a safe and professional environment.
If you have experienced an incident of gender-based or sexual harassment, domestic or interpersonal violence, sexual assault, abuse of power or any sexual misconduct while attending the Mountain Workshops, we ask that you promptly report the incident to the director of the Mountain Workshops either verbally or by email at email@example.com.
You can also file a report of the incident here. If you file the report anonymously, the case is not subject to the Title IX process, but the director may conduct an investigation to remedy the situation. The complaint will be treated in a confidential manner and any concerns raised will be immediately addressed. The safety of all our participants, coaches, staff, vendors and our host community is of the utmost priority.
Seats fill quickly. Your participation is only secure after payment is received in full. Acceptance does not guarantee a seat. It is best to make your payment as quickly as possible once you have been notified of your acceptance. If a workshop sells out before you pay, we will start a waiting list and contact you based upon the order of your initial registration date if any openings occur. You will have 24 hours to pay once we contact you via your registration email to secure a wait-listed seat. After that we will contact the next applicant on the list.
We understand that life happens and there are reasons that you may have to cancel your participation after you have paid. We will do what we can to assist you in your cancellation but the Mountain Workshops is not responsible for cancellations due to family or medical emergencies. If, for some reason, we have to cancel one of our workshops due to inadequate enrollment or other situations beyond our control, we will reimburse all funds paid directly to us. We cannot be responsible for hotel or non-refundable airline tickets.
A car/transportation is required for the photojournalism, video and time-lapse workshops. For data visualization and picture editing it is possible to secure rides with other participants in the same workshop or the Mountain Workshops MAY assist with ground transportation if you are staying at one of our recommended hotels but mobility may be very limited. It is best to communicate with us before paying tuition if you intend to not have a car at the workshops.
You are responsible to obtain your own airline, hotel reservations and meals as well as transportation to and from the airport to the workshop community.
Our coaches are professionally in high demand and sometimes a listed coach is unable to participate because of a last-minute change in their schedule. If we need to replace a coach, we will do so with a person of similar credentials in the business.
In order to preserve the longevity of the Mountain Workshops content, and to realize the importance of this collection of images, stories and videos about the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we have partnered with WKU Archives to manage and archive your edited work from this week.
• You keep your own copyright of everything you collect.
• The Mountain Workshops may use content or your likeness to promote the workshops.
• The WKU Archives is accessible to WKU faculty, students and staff for research only.
• If an interested party wishes to use an item beyond research, the WKU Archives can sell the content, but you will be contacted first.
• If you want to sell the image yourself, WKU Archives will provide you with a contact of the interested party.
• After 25 years from the date on this contract, all rights to your collection will transfer to WKU Archives unless you specify otherwise in writing to the Archive office.
I retain the copyright to my own work obtained during the Mountain Workshops and I agree to allow the Mountain Workshops to use my photographs, video, audio, words, design or interactive graphics and all other materials, as well as my likeness taken during the workshops, without compensation, for promotional products such as websites, social media, broadcast dissemination, books, multimedia, digital distribution and exhibits related to the Mountain Workshops or Western Kentucky University’s promotion of the School of Journalism & Broadcasting and its associated events.
I own the personal property and original art gathered at the Mountain Workshops and desire to give said personal property to the WKU Archives. As copyright holder I do hereby give and transfer to the WKU Archives the full use and limited rights, title and interests, including limited copyright, trademark and related interests, in and to the described property for educational use by WKU students, faculty and staff. I do hereby agree to inform WKU Archives of changes in my contact information. After a period of 25 years from this date or upon my death, I hereby grant that all rights will irrevocably and unconditionally transfer to WKU Archives unless requested otherwise by written communication to WKU Archives.
WKU Archives will digitally store and have available for academic research by WKU faculty, staff and students, the photojournalism participant's final edit as well as the video storytelling participant's final published video. You will be notified via email (your registration email) for any request for use other than research. You will have an option to approve or deny the request. If you deny, WKU Archives will make available to you the requesting party's contact information and it becomes your responsibility to pursue the business exchange. If you approve the request, WKU Archives will make arrangements for the sale and collect all monetary gains from the sale. You are required to keep your contact current with WKU Archives by communicating with WKU Archives at 270-745-4793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can either put the URL of your work online on the application form, email images or videos (under 8 megs) to email@example.com or mail a hard copy to:
Western Kentucky University
The Mountain Workshops
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11070
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1070
Yes you can, but only one at a time. Photography, video, data visualization, time-lapse and picture editing all run at the same time, so you can only take one workshop per year. However, each workshop has its own educational component, and coming back each year for a new workshop will result in an entirely new experience. There is no suggested order for taking the 5 workshops; just choose whichever order that makes the most sense to you in your educational training.
Yes, the workshop is open to anyone who wants to improve his or her storytelling abilities. We have had participants from major newspapers and magazines as well as freelance visual storytellers who run their own business and see the workshops as a way to give them an edge over the competition.
Yes. In fact, almost half of our college-age enrollment comes from universities other than Western Kentucky. We welcome graduate students as well.
Tuition covers educational costs only. You will need to pay for your hotel, travel and food costs during your stay.
The Mountain Workshops has a network of Macintosh computers for participant use. If you are in the video storytelling, data visualization, time-lapse or picture editing workshop, you will have a computer set up for you with all the necessary software. If you are in the photography workshop you will view your work on your coach’s workstation. Photography participants write captions and stories in our writing area that is provided with a number of shared workstations. All the images from the photography workshop are archived on our servers, but if you wish to archive your own images and take them with you, you should bring a laptop and card reader and download your images throughout the week.
Whichever workshop you enroll in, if you wish to take your content home with you, you will need to bring a hard drive. We recommend at least 250GB of free space for Video storytelling workshop, and 100GB for the Photojournalism workshop.
We expect all photography, video and time-lapse participants to have their own camera bodies, lenses, tripods and lighting system. For many years, camera company representatives have been at the Workshops with a wide range of loaner gear, but nothing is guaranteed. Our audio equipment sponsors provide a limited amount of audio gear, and various vendors may supply a limited number of tripods for participant use. The time-lapse workshop will have a variety of gear available but we encourage to have at least one tripod and the ability to progrm an intervalometer. Every year the Mountain Workshops depends on sponsor support, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we encourage all participants to bring as much of their own equipment as possible.
Yes. Covering your story and shooting features will require that you’re able to travel to different locations in the county throughout the week. The picture editor and data visualization participants spend most of their day at the headquarters. However, you are responsible to get yourself to and from the hotel and also to get out for dining purposes. It is possible to share rides, and in some instances, it is possible to walk. But verify the headquarter location to your selected hotel before you choose the walking options. These communities are small and many do not have taxi or Uber service.
Each year we select coaches based on their professional experience and their ability to mentor participants and support their learning and growth. We usually announce the final roster of coaches about a month before the Workshops begin, often sooner. You’ll find the announcement on our web site and also on our social media outlets.
No. We pair coaches and participants based on a variety of factors. You will be assigned to one coach, but you are also encouraged to meet with other coaches during the week and take advantage of their insights and suggestions.
No. We have story researchers scouring the county well in advance of the workshop.
Names, descriptions, and contact information for story subjects are put into in a hat, and each participant randomly draws an assignment at the opening of the workshops. After drawing your assignment from the hat, you will discuss the story with your coach and then go out and try to secure the cooperation of your subject. Every person has a story, and the faculty and staff at the Mountain Workshops will come together to help you find a compelling way to tell that story.
In the Photojournalism workshop we limit the amount of images you can take. Your coaches will work with you about how each photograph is made. Our educational philosophy is to slow down and concentrate on moments. Turn off your motor drive and connect with your subject. Our workflow is in JPEG format, if you wish to shoot RAW files you will need to shoot both RAW and JPEG. We will ingest the JPEGs into our workflow and you will be responsible to save your own RAW files for later use.
Information about the 2018 Mountain Workshops Dataseam Teacher Track participation will be forthcoming.
One teacher with 24 students in five classes reaches 120 students in a day
Eight teachers can reach 960 students
The eight teachers trained in the first Dataseam Teacher Track have influenced communication skills of 2,168 students
Forty-eight Dataseam-trained teachers to date have reached 46,080 students