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Student podcasters ahead of curve

Written on October 21st, 2011

Thirteen Grade 8 students from six OACS member schools are ahead of the communications curve, creating impressive podcasts each week highlighting events at their schools.

After sharing a blog on how the media is changing and the OACS News is looking for member schools to build media together, teacher Alex van Donkersgoed who is heading the Christian Education in a Digital Age (CEIADA) program connected with me through the OACS’ e-curriculum site about his students’ work.

It was exciting to hear that there’s a group of students interested in collaborating with us to produce content. They’ve got a ready-made distribution channel through their podcasts, adding a new form of media available to the OACS News audience.

Produced each week by a team of students in the enrichment program, the podcasts, which average eight to 12 minutes, open with a devotion or inspiring quote.

Called Messiah’s Messengers, each podcast features topics of interest, such as the pros and cons of school uniforms, the role of student council, the importance of fundraising for operating costs and school budgets.

The school uniform series is an example of good journalism in action. The first podcast features Huron Christian School, which just implemented school uniforms this year. A board member is interviewed on the decision, and asked questions such as how long uniforms will be kept at the school.

In the same podcast, two moms are interviewed on school uniforms. The Huron Christian School mom shares why she is opposed to the uniforms. At Kleinburg Christian Academy, where uniforms have been in place for awhile, a mom shares why she likes having the dress code in place.

Interviewing different sources — and in this case, featuring opposing thoughts — shows the students are learning valuable skills around creating and asking questions. There’s also the organization behind setting up the interview, keeping it on track and creating fluid conversation.

In addition, the students are learning how to identify and create a news story, and work to deadline, which are skills any reporter — including my colleagues and I — need to have.

The CEIADA program offers great hope for the future of education. Social media is changing the way people communicate and do business. It’s not a fad, but a reality of society as people have tools at their fingertips to share their thoughts in seconds to all their connections.

Organizations that aren’t engaging in online conversations will be left behind. To educate students about new forms of communication is important, but to engage them in creating their own, hands-on, experiential projects that are publicly available for the world to download is trailblazing.

I look forward to talking more with Alex and his students. In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen to their podcasts, which you can find by clicking here.

Visit http://www.ceiada.org to learn more about the program.