As we prepare students for the unknown work environment of the future, it is important that we, as teachers, work with them to develop a foundation of skills that will help them become successful in avenues beyond our school’s walls. While we may not know exactly what the future skills in the workplace may be, we can foster this particular skill set in our current classrooms. According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, employers desire workers with an increasingly demanding skill set including: problem-solving, digital literacy, leadership and creativity. To that end, creating media content in our classrooms can foster all of these skills. By having our students create content using voice, images, video, or any combination of the three, we are allowing them the opportunity to express themselves in ways that may not be possible in a written assignment, while developing the skills necessary for the future.
As I travel to schools and work with teachers to discover new ways to engage students in the the creative process, there is a single question continually asked by teachers: “how can I help my students get to the end product efficiently?” I encourage teachers to look at media creation as a six-step process. Each step engages the students in a new way, allows them to use several different skills, and supports their creation of a media product. Through this process, the students can take ownership, be proud of their work, and have fun!
Step 1: Research
During the first step, students should seek out and collect new information on their topic. Teachers can encourage students to go further than simply looking up facts on their topics and inspire them to ask questions that can lead to further development and understanding. During this step, students can sharpen their reading and research skills.
Step 2: Write
After collecting their research, students will need to set the foundation of their end product. If creating a video, this step would include writing a script for the participants. If creating a podcast, this would include writing a series of talking points for the hosts to discuss. Writing may seem unnecessary when creating an image, however, a written description or reflection of the image will deepen student understanding of the topic.
Step 3: Organize
This step may be one of the most crucial steps in the process. During this step, students should work to ensure that their research and writing are organized as they head into the creation process. In regards to a video project, many are unsuccessful or take too much time because students do not organize where their filming locations are going to be or who will be appearing in the video. Students should outline or create a storyboard for their video or podcast before heading out to create their products. By creating an outline or storyboard for their video or podcast, students have a greater opportunity for success.
Step 4: Create
One of the most exciting steps involves the creation of the media content. Once students have sufficiently covered the first three steps, it is time to turn their creative minds loose. When I was a high school social studies teacher, this was the step when students would venture out of my classroom. My students often found quiet places to record podcasts or open areas to film footage for their videos. Note that during this step, it is probably best to ask your administration if they will allow students to roam various places in the school. I also found that it was helpful to notify fellow teachers that there may be students walking around and creating. They appreciated the courtesy.
Step 5: Edit
While teaching media creation, I noticed one glaring difference between media and written work: the amount of effort in editing the product prior to publishing. It seemed that some students would take very little time editing a written assignment prior to submitting it as the only audience of that paper would more than likely be me. When creating media content, students understand that there is a publication factor involved. Their content may be viewed by peers or a larger audience. This authentic audience often results in increased ownership in their work and can be a very powerful thing. Giving students an appropriate amount of time to edit their media is very important as many will strive for perfection.
Step 6: Publish
As mentioned above, media creation allows for publishing to a wider audience. This audience may be as narrow as displaying created images for their peers on a Google Site, or as wide as publishing a video on YouTube for the world to see. Students may be able to create content that impacts their community or beyond. During this step, encourage students to reflect back on the process. This reflection may deepen their connection to the content and the experience of creation.
The first few adventures into media creation in my class, prior to developing these steps, were unorganized and chaotic. While the student creations were done well, the timing was inefficient and often took longer than necessary. After reflecting on the practices, I realized the students needed more guidance. Using these six steps efficiently structured the media creation process with my students. Consider using these steps this school year as you look for new and exciting ways to engage your students with multimedia technology in the classroom!