Schools struggling with lack of funds and needing to modernize and innovate immediately, check this out.
I have just completed an amazing year of project and product based learning. I have done it with very little resources. It is possible to get massive leverage from open source programs that are very professional. All you really need is a high speed internet connection (more on that in a moment).
Of course, it certainly helps to have a computer lab full of a bunch of high powered desktops. If this is unavailable, byod. That’s right, get the kids to bring their own laptops and/or tablets. Not every student may have one, which is actually perfect as it provides ample opportunity for collaboration. If you are in a place that is impoverished with no tech access at all, you are going to have to dig deep and go ask companies to give you their old computers. Heck, if you are persuasive enough (you are a teacher on a mission aren’t you?) then why not get that uptown law firm to buy you 10 brand new ones. It is an absolute necessity, darn well close to bordering on a right, that kids have access to tech.
Which leads me back to a high speed internet connection. Seriously, schools, if you do not allow high speed internet, you are being outlandish. Students can walk across the street to Starbucks and do whatever they want with it. Get over it. Supply it. It is the greatest tool ever created for learning and creativity. Even if your school is so far back in the dinosaur age and will not provide internet access, you can still download most of the tools that I am about to outline below – for free!
Seriously, all students should have their own website. Parents should be strongly encouraged to purchase domains with their kids names. Digital First. This is an absolute must. Students must have their own platform to display the work that they do throughout their high school career. They must leave school with proof of their accomplishments, not some meaningless GPA.
What is essential is that the site can be constantly altered with all of the tools they learn throughout the course until the student has a true work of digital art that represents their best self.
2. Inkscape (Equivalent to Adobe Illustrator)
Inkscape is an incredibly powerful tool that allows students to create some very spectacular designs. There are a ton of youtube tutorials. Students can choose what they are interested in and work on it at their own pace. Indeed, get them thinking like professionals right from the start and get them to create logos/headers for their websites. Again, it can change throughout the course as students gain more skill and produce higher quality work.
Awesome program. Chop up audio, build tracks, create podcasts. Let the kids choose their own projects. From experience, kids love mixing their own music. It is probably one of the most engaging things for a teenager to do. As a class, get the kids to build an album. Sell it on bandcamp. There are tons of free music sites out there to get sounds from. Check this one out: looperman. The kids got a lot of great stuff from it. Seriously, it is endless, way too many to list. Just google sounds – you will get lots of things. The kids know where to find it.
4. Gimp (equivalent to Photo Shop)
Super powerful open source gnu image manipulation program. You will only be able to scratch the surface of what it can do. Again, there are a ton of youtube tutorials. Let the kids choose what they want to do. And again, the beauty is the more skilled they get, the better work they create to display on their sites. All of these tools promote exceptional design and creative thinking. Let the kids run with it. They will produce work that will surprise!
5. Movie Maker
Or any free movie editor will do. You actually don’t need too much to edit video together. Sure, it is nice to have the power tools, but so much can be done with Movie Maker alone. Most of all, it provides one of the best mediums to tell stories – video. Kids can produce videos using their phones and this simple editor. They can upload them to youtube and then embed them on their website. This should be done many, many times over the course of their high school career. Guide the kids in making professional videos that have a story and impact the world.
The beauty is that students can combine all of the above elements into the video. For example making logos with inkscape/gimp and/or adding their own tracks that they mashed together via audacity (how cool is that?).
Blender is a complex program for animation, but once learned, is extremely powerful. It will take time to unlock the secrets of this program, but as you have probably already guessed, yes, there are a bunch of youtube tutorials to learn from. These tutorials are great as they give a starting point for the kids to launch their own creations.
Students can create some mindblowing animations – which they can then also add to their videos (are you beginning to see a pattern?).
This is how learning should be done: LEARN BY DOING. I repeat, learn by doing. At codecademy, you can see the immediate results of your work. And if it does not work, you try it again until it does work. Trial and error. Best of all, is that kids are learning to build real things and gain real skills needed for unknown future employment prospects.
I would say that coding is required knowledge now. In the past, companies would look at you if you had a degree. Now, they will look at you if you can write some rock solid code.
The great things is, kids can work on it anywhere there is an internet connection. It is free. This site will keep them busy for a very long time.
There you have it. This course follows the requirements of BC Digital Media 11/12. If you are not doing this at your school, I strongly believe it needs to be brought in immediately. These are part of the base skills needed now. Students must become makers and producers of content.
Lastly, open source is amazing. It is continually being added to and made better from developers all over the world. I love that idea. It introduces students to community and how to be a contributor inside of it. I think it is great to expose kids to it.