High school students are Facebooking, MySpacing and Twittering on their own time, but many public high schools have yet to fully incorporate teenagers’ native tools –- digital media -– into their classrooms. To change that, teachers from the San Francisco Unified School District are slated to meet Tuesday with representatives from Google, MySpace, CNET, YouTube and Technorati for training on how to bring blogging, podcasting, online video and social networking into their classrooms.
The event is billed as a professional development day for teachers. If successful, the model could be replicated for other cities and hosted in partnership with local technology leaders and media firms, said Brian Monahan, senior vice president, global lead for social media, at Universal McCann. He’s a board member of the Bay Area Interactive Group, which is hosting the training day at media agency McCann Worldgroup in San Francisco. The event will not be streamed live, but the Bay Area Interactive Group and the school district plan to shoot the event and are evaluating how to offer the video of the training session for those who cannot attend.
“Kids need to be taught how to access collaboration tools, search tools and publishing tools, and our members know how to do that. They are the companies making the technology or enabling the financial success of that through the transaction of ads,” he said. “If students can share a book report with the world on YouTube, that can inspire them to do the reading and think about the book.”
Video podcasts could prove to be particularly useful in the current recessionary environment. Schools have been hit hard by budget cuts, so video of lectures or field trips may replace actual trips for some schools, Monahan said. CNET Executive Editor Tom Merritt will speak to the teachers about how to podcast.
Some public schools have launched digital media projects already; students at one of the city’s high schools created video presentations of each presidential candidate’s position using online video during the fall presidential election, for example, while students at another school created audio podcast walking tours of San Francisco. But the district wants digital media to become more ubiquitous in the classroom, said Patricia Theel, supervisor of career technical education for the San Francisco Unified School District. “We are hoping teacher can integrate more technology into and across the curriculum so it’s happening in the English class and the social studies class,” she said.
The digital media training session will have other benefits in that it will give the teachers more connections at local tech companies, Theel said, which they’ll be able to tap for potential internships for their students.
Monahan said he’ll look to replicate the training event for other interactive groups and associations around the country that also want to partner with local schools. Most major cities have local media trade associations that could become hubs for this type of professional development for teachers, he said.