About Me


I am the Instructional Media Designer and co-coordinator for the Digital Liberal Arts Program at Whittier College.  I build programs and projects that blend pedagogy with digital technologies.  I teach digital storytelling as a pedagogical tool to engage students in higher order thinking, deep learning, and to build digital literacy skills. My teaching and learning interests are also mapping, blogging as scholarship, wearable technologies, and augmented reality tools.  I’m also interested in learning more about how technology can enhance study abroad opportunities for students.  In May 2016 I helped lead a digital storytelling workshop at Metro University College in Copenhagen.  I truly believe that digital storytelling leads to transformative learning experiences.

From pocket documentaries to iPhone photography and virtual reality tools; how does this shape what we see and how we share our experiences?
In Fall 2016 I worked on a series of community workshops at the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier on mobile phone photography.  From snapshots to photo editing to photo archiving and sharing.  What do the pictures we capture; the filters we use and the subjects we choose say about us? How do we see our community through photos?  Our workshops turned into an awesome community photography exhibit hosted by Whittier Public Library.  Read more about this project here.
In Fall 2017 I partnered with Whittier Public Library to bring together community members for a series of digital storytelling workshops. You can view our community’s amazing stories here:
Whittier Public Library: Digital Stories

This summer I will be joining DH@Guelph for a new summer workshop titled, “Digital Storytelling for Humanists.”

Now, a little #TBT : It all started when…

I was 10 years old, my dad let me borrow his JVC video camera to create a “Goonies” style movie starring my friends, the neighborhood kids in search of buried treasure.  I was instantly hooked to the storytelling power this mid 1980s technology gave me! In high school I enrolled in a newly offered broadcast journalism course that allowed me to write, direct and edit a news program that covered local activities, sports and events. It was my entry point into video editing -analog- which was frustrating!  If you got an edit wrong you had to start all over!  A year later our student-produced ‘news’ show got picked up by the local access cable channel and then it got serious- our audience wasn’t just our classroom but the larger community.  Our scripts got tighter and our stories became more critical.  It was our early 1990s version of open scholarship.

In college I enrolled as a Communications major envisioning myself as a news reporter or a film editor. My first internship gave me access to an AVID editing suite and my first taste of digital video editing. I just about lived in the lab exploring new ways to cut video clips instantly. It was awesome!

After graduating I joined my college’s instructional technology and academic computing department.  I worked with a creative and technical team to launch academic programming that focused on science and technology.  In grad school I partnered with a documentary filmmaker and soon I was traveling to places like Mexico, Cuba, Syria and Iraq to create films about women, cultures, space and place.

I am fascinated with how technology can create authentic learning experiences and I’m always game to experiment with a new project!


Collage of photos from Sonia Chaidez's projects.

I am the Senior Instructional Technologist at Whittier College’s Center for Teaching and Learning.
I work as part of faculty and staff development to drive and inspire the effective and ethical integration of educational technology. I provide specialized instruction, advice, and guidance in the application of educational tools and techniques.
I build programming and projects that focus on digital pedagogy, media & digital literacy, and blended learning.

This fall 2024 I am excited to continue working with our Mellon grant that supports the study of Brown Identities at Whittier College. The “Poet StoryLab: Narrative, Community, and the Transformative Possibilities of Brown Storytelling” continues the work we’ve collaborated on with our community partners and digital storytelling projects.

A major campus role (that brings me hope and joy!) is to be part of our leadership team that focuses on expanding inclusive teaching methods in STEM and other disciplines as part of a generous grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

This year my work in leading the
Center for Teaching and Learning will include exploring how Generative AI is affecting Higher Education.

I also produce and host a podcast called Teaching at Whittier.

My specialty is teaching digital storytelling to engage students in higher order thinking, deep learning, and to build digital literacy skills.  In study abroad, digital storytelling assignments capture amazing transformative learning experiences! 

In 2020 I contributed to a chapter in the book Digital Storytelling: Story Work for Urgent Times on digital storytelling in higher education.

I also work on a series of multilingual PhotoVoice projects, the most recent called “Connections to Home/Conexiones a Nuestro Hogar” (2024), “Nuestro Arte: Community & Photography” (2023) and “Life During Pandemic/La Vida Durante La Pandemia” (2021).

My research and teaching interests include partnering with community-based groups to create learning spaces (physical and virtual) that provide opportunities for diverse populations to participate in digital media making projects like digital photo archives, story maps, multimodal storytelling & podcasts, and augmented reality tools. 

Equity and inclusion are at the forefront of every digital initiative that I engage in. The ethos of reflection, education, and social justice greatly influences the dynamic of my workshops and partner projects.  I believe that through creative and collaborative projects, participants are invested in learning communities that we build together to continue contributing to digital platforms for the diverse populations that will use them in the cycle of life-long teaching and learning.

My background is in filmmaking and I have traveled to Mexico, Cuba, Syria and Iraq to make documentary films that show the plight of cultures trying to preserve their history while adapting to modernity.
My documentary projects can be viewed on Vimeo.

Sonia Chaidez 2024 profile photo

schaidez@gmail.com (personal)
schaidez@whittier.edu (work)

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