I am often disappointed when technology is condemned for our woes and I suspect that most of the time if we look further we will find what is important is people and relationships. Our visit to Carlsbad High School to meet with Doug Green and his broadcasting students demonstrated explicitly the importance of this for me today. In the mist of all the technology there was a wonderful buzz of students working collaboratively, all very clear of the purpose and what was expected of them. In California schools are required to work to a fairly prescribed curriculum and it takes an innovative and brave teacher to engage student learning through technology as exemplified by Doug Green.
Each morning the students produce a live show which is broadcast to an audience of over 3000. We were welcomed by senior students Jerry and Riley who confidently guided us through each part of the process. Student are responsible for all of the production and they have covered local school news and events to stories with wider impact such as the recent bush fires where their work was picked up by local TV stations and broadcast to millions statewide. This morning's broadcast seemed to run like clockwork and was totally student led and driven.
The students are very aware of the responsibility they have to produce balanced stories and the role the broadcast has in connecting many of the different interests and groups that make up their local school community. Students are expected to learn all of the roles from writing, editing, production and presenting and pitch at least 2 stories every six weeks. These are critically reviewed and assessed by Doug and they are provided with clear feedback. The students believe that CHSTV is responsible for developing a real sense of community in their school and has has developed their abilities as critical viewers and processors of information, including their ability to communicate in the many and varied situations they find themselves reporting from.
Jerry describes the impact of the broadcasting course on student learning (apologies for the background noise)
We were privileged to hear directly from some of the students (including Jerry) who were part of the team responsible for a yearlong documentary project called "We Must Remember", the story of sixteen American high school students who discover the horror of the Holocaust while producing a film about the Holocaust. The film was originally produced to be used as a teaching resource so students would be able to experience its impact through a perspective of others of a similar age. Doug and the students are traveling to Croatia next week for the films release, it will be featured in film festivals internationally during 2009, and in 2010 it will be distributed to schools across the United States. A trailer and further information is posted on School Tube
The experiences shared by the students at CHSTV have had a very real impact on their learning and have taken it way beyond the classroom. The mutual trust and respect between Doug and his students underpinned everything we experienced today and we are looking forward in the hope that their documentary will be released in New Zealand.