NECC: Day One

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • Jul
  • 05
  • 2006

The day started with an AFI session, AFI Screen Education Center: Digital Filmmaking in the Core Curriculum. This began with a fairly unnecessary speech about why we were all there, an explanation that’s not needed by a group of people willing to show up at 8:30 in the morning the day after the 4th of July. We’re there, we don’t need to be told why we’re there. Just start the presentin’ already! Eventually, someone uttered the phrase, “Kids take control of their own learning and they create learning through a process we’ll show you later today.” That’s where the session should have started.

A Misleading Title

Anyhow, AFI has put together some decent instructional videos about how to put together a movie, a process that takes into account just about any and all of the academic areas a teacher has room to include. Broken into 14 different “modules,” AFI’s Screen Education Program presents short video clips of instruction on a filmmaking concept, from treatment to final production. This comes complete with downloadable handouts and worksheets for students to use. Nice touch.

This is all very interesting, but the problem is that it’s exclusively licensed through United Streaming, a fine product if you or your district have the money to pay for it and the resources to put training in place to give you your money’s worth. Further, teachers are the only ones in control of video playback with the United Streaming model. If students want to watch the video later in their day, perhaps as they are working on the assignment and that one person’s advice becomes all the more germane, they can’t. Rumor has it that United Streaming is working on a home product called Cosmio, but the high-cost subscription model is such a huge mountain to get over that it might not matter.

The workshop title refered to incorporating this type of material into the “core curriculum.” However, AFI has left it to teachers to work on how to do that. This makes the material no different than anything else: if teachers are creative enough, it can be infused into the core curriculum; if they aren’t it becomes fluff. There’s some kind of best practices database, but it’s only available to a limited audience of teachers who already have an established relationship with AFI (those that were in the test schools for this curriculum). AFI is still working on some kind of login system for the database, but until they’ve created that the database might as well not exist.

There was nothing this session did to show any of us how this material could make it into anything that might be called “core curriculum,” which I take to mean English, math, science, and history. Possibilities exist, of course, but there are possibilities with just about anything. What some teachers need is an idea of what those possibilities might include, a place to start for how to apply the ideas into their classroom. To suggest that this material makes video editing a strong part of the core curriculum, while not providing any direction as to how that is possible, left a bad taste in my mouth. Still, I plan to have my students making documentaries next year and this stuff would put them in a good position to do that.

Find Time To Find Time

Another misleading title, the research paper roundtable discussion called Site-based Technology Coordinators: Finding Time for Staff Development/Instructional Support, didn’t talk about finding time for staff development at all. The most it did was provide a picture of the abysmal position tech coordinators are in terms of their own time to perform their job. And interesting group of participants and an interesting paper, the title didn’t accurately depict the conversation we had.

Reason For Being Here

Our afternoon poster session went well and we gathered lots of contacts. More people who are interested in what we’re doing and are willing to be contributors is a good thing.

GarageBand In A Hurry

I rushed out of the hotel room, noticed the time ticking away, and rounded the corner to catch the last 25 minutes of GarageBand Mechanics: Composition and Recording Arts for the Classroom, glad to have made the mad dash to get there. I met Dan on my way out of an earlier session. His presentation was dynamic and he really performed, making the presentation interesting and entertaining. Also, his brief tutorial presented some nice possibilities for video editing with GarageBand, in terms of not only a musical score to things but also in terms of voice overs, foley work, and other effects. I hadn’t considered GarageBand in this way (more properly, I have the lame GarageBand version 1, the version that can’t do much of anything) and am also digging the podcasting easy GarageBand provides.

Flock Together

I ended my NECC day with a Birds-of-a-Feather session, one where people gather with a common interest and spend the time talking with each other. I went to the International Project-Based Learning & Global Partnerships session and met some good people who are doing interesting things around the world.

I successfully gave away all of the business cards I grabbed in the morning, only about 25, but I’m not a salesperson by any stretch, so that’s pretty good. I’m enjoying myself, though I’m glad to be finished with presenting. I’ll still be talking to people as I can and trying to find people who are interesting in creating video content for Next Vista, but it’ll be much easier without having to set up and be “on” at a set time. It’ll be far more relaxed from here on out. More tomorrow. Gotta go grab dinner.

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