South Burlington High School

Nineteen students from area middle and high schools interviewed, tweeted, blogged and edited five videos in five hours as they helped create an endnote speech for more than 300 technology teachers and school educators attending the 2011 Dynamic Landscapes 2.0 Conference on May 19.

The speech, presented by Jay Hoffman, technology teacher at Fredrick H. Tuttle Middle School (FHTMS), explored the use of social media for learning in the classroom. Hoffman partnered with Regional Educational Technology Network (RETN) and local students to create a real-time, media lab demonstration of social media and collaboration skills.

“It was interesting to go around and ask people about their feelings on social media. I was really surprised to see the number of teachers who were willing to incorporate it into their class,” said Janie Merrick, media lab participant and student at FHTMS.

Students met as a group for the first time at 8:30 a.m. and were assigned to one of five teams. Each team consisted of a camera crew, interviewers, social media expert and an editor. Each group started shooting on-the-street interviews with conference attendees at 9:30 a.m. and used social media tools to update each other on their progress. By noon each crew was editing its footage into short clips that were then uploaded to the Internet for use during Hoffman’s talk at 2:45 p.m.

“When I walked into the media lab and saw the students working I could feel the energy,” said Sue Irish, Vermont School Library Association (VSLA) Board member and conference co-coordinator. “Seeing the clusters of kids focused and working collaboratively, they looked so professional. It took my breath away.”

Students participating in RETN’s media lab represented Burlington High School, Burlington Technology Center, Essex Union High School, South Burlington High School, Vergennes Union High School, Williston Central School, along with 10 students from FHTMS. Recent UVM and Champlain College graduates interning with RETN provided additional support and captured behind the scenes footage.

“I thought the whole event was fun,” said Nathan Kakalec of FHTMS. “I learned a lot of new things and got to use new programs, and it was nice to connect with people who have the same interest as you.”

Nirali Desai, Kakalec’s classmate at FHTMS added, “I think the media lab taught me about how planning can help and how everything comes together in the end. I already do this stuff at school, but it’s never like real-life producing.”

The conference is co-sponsored by the VSLA and the Vermont Information Technology Association (VITA-Learn). Hoffman was selected to present the endnote because of his experience integrating social media into his classroom.

“Often, students are graded simply on the product they produce,” Hoffman said. ”I believe it is the process that yields all the learning, and I can think of no better way to explain 21st century skills, community collaboration, and learning with social media, than to have students demonstrate it.”

Hoffman is president of RETN’s board of directors. Scott Campitelli, executive director of RETN, coordinated the media lab and acknowledged the help of many partners including valuable assistance from sister organization, Vermont Community Access Media. ”The students performed flawlessly,” said Campitelli. “The lessons they learned about teamwork, communication, and deadlines will help make them better students and more engaged citizens.”

The media lab was part of RETN’s ongoing celebration of 20 years of service to the community. RETN’s mission is to make media and technology accessible to all students and lifelong learners to advance education and civic engagement.


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