USC Shoah Foundation has an incredible history. It was started in the mid ‘90s by famed director and producer Steven Spielberg as a means to capture the testimonies of witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust. Later it became USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and its mission expanded to educate about and address the atrocity of genocide around the world historically and in present times.
Today, its IWitness program uses testimonies—personal stories—from survivors and witnesses of genocide to teach students worldwide the importance of compassion and in bringing about positive societal change. The goal of IWitness is to motivate students to act responsibly and ultimately to help them uphold important values. These include justice, equality, diversity, tolerance and how best to counter attitudes and acts of hatred.
IWitness is the Institute’s signature educational website for teachers and their students. The free site has been used by students and educators in all 50 states and over 80 countries including Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Australia and France.
The WeVideo video editor has long been an integral part of the IWitness digital platform, made free to all students and teachers with easy access to digital storytelling tools. Students use the IWitness video assets, as well as their own video contributions, for interactive, creative educational projects. The projects give students a hands-on opportunity to learn. The final results, in turn, become an asset students can share as they educate others.
The Institute has developed innovative learning tools geared toward middle and high school students and teacher training programs that optimize the use of testimony in diverse educational settings – providing an experience that takes students beyond textbooks for more impactful learning. There are now 21 IWitness video activities available, with more to come.
Students are challenged to research and produce public service announcements, video essays, or short films using the WeVideo editor that is built into IWitness. The Institute also runs the annual IWitness Video Challenge that asks middle and high school students in the United States and Canada to submit short videos to show how they were inspired by testimony to make positive choices and create value in their community. To see some incredible example of student work through IWitness, visit here.
Recently IWitness and its WeVideo editor underwent massive update. To ensure that students have unlimited creative capability at their disposal, the Institute upgraded its embedded editor to the latest, HTML5 based version of WeVideo. This not only brings the latest capabilities to the video editor—including green screen, motion titles, and more—but future-proofs the video creation platform. Directly integrating the most recent version of WeVideo within the IWitness site ensures that all students have access to advanced video-editing features that are both powerful and easy learn. It also means that teachers do not have to contend with acquiring, installing or maintaining additional software in order to have students participate.
To learn more about IWitness and how it can be used in your classroom, visit here.