Magazine article Technology & Learning

Going Pro: Schools Embrace Video Production and Videoconferencing

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Going Pro: Schools Embrace Video Production and Videoconferencing

Article excerpt

Text may be here to stay, but that isn't stopping K-12 schools from broadening their curriculum offerings to include audio, video, and other multimodal styles of communication. A combination of savvy digital natives, affordable software, and online tutoring has created a perfect opportunity to integrate professional level video and videoconferencing into curricula.

Students in Broward County, Florida were recently treated to an informal concert by a world-renowned Japanese Shakuhachi musician from his studio outside of Tokyo by way of their videoconferencing set-up. Eighth grade students at Eastview Middle School in White Plains, New York, studying AIDS and preventive awareness, interviewed HIV-positive peers in South Africa. At Gordon Parks Academy, a pre-K-6 school in East Orange, New Jersey, students in television production classes get professional training in everything from how a television works to editing, preproduction, and on-location shooting.

Smile, You're on TV

Other schools are following suit. Misty Gentle, a teacher at Ocoee Middle School in Ocoee, Florida, brings her own professional television production experience and skills to teaching both beginning- and advanced-level television production classes to 7th and 8th grade students.

Beginning Class

Gentle's 7th graders start out learning about different TV and tape formats, the video camera, digital-video editing, audio "sweetening," graphics, and script writing. Using these skills, students are required to create short films, with a provided script to shoot and edit. They also use a green screen and learn a little about special effects. They write a commercial in proper screen format and are also challenged to integrate advertising and marketing skills into that unit. In addition, each student develops a news story and a public service announcement which they write, shoot, and edit.

Advanced Class

8th grade classes operate on a professional level, with a daily live news broadcast (the morning announcements) and a half-hour show about their school. The show, "OMS Unplugged," is then broadcast each month from the local government TV channel.

At the end of the semester, each student creates a DVD with his or her projects on it, complete with a main menu and customized pictures and fonts. Ocoee Middle School is a state demonstration site for technology, and features cutting-edge technology not only in their television production class but throughout the school. However, that shouldn't deter teachers who want to start a program like Gentle's in their schools, she says.

TV Tips

Gentle advises educators interested in integrating TV production into their curricula to start with small classes. She suggests having one or two consumer-grade mini digital video cameras with FireWire and a few computers with extra memory capacity or external hard drives for video storage and digital editing software. "You could grow from there," she says.

Gentle's television production classes use Deli PCs with Windows XP (80 GB hard drives and FireWire), as well as Adobe Premiere for digital editing and Adobe Photoshop to create graphics. Her students shoot on mini digital-video cameras but also use professional Panasonic cameras and consumer cameras from Canon and Sony.

"I have also found that the Internet is a great resource for lesson plans," she said. "I have gotten many ideas from the educators who share their programs, lesson plans, activities, and experience on the Web. Networking with other TV production teachers is 100 percent rewarding. As different as each program may be, we can all learn from each other and we all seem to be more than happy to share."

To view more information about Gentle's classes and access links to her television production page and numerous additional resources, visit www.oms.ocps.net/THD/gentlem. Also see the sidebar "Getting Started" for more tips about implementing television production instruction in the classroom. …

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