Governors of the several states are in search of a new vision for high school, as eSchool News reports on the Front Page of this issue. Reform is also on the mind of the world’s richest man. On page 35, you can assess Bill Gates’ views on change, set forth in his own words.

When it comes to education, calls for reform are always in fashion. Fact is, though, significant fine-tuning already is in progress, as we report in another Front Page story. A new federal study points to a quickening trend–not just in high school, but across the whole of education. Distance learning is expanding the reach and resources of schools at all levels. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a decades-old delivery vehicle–distance education–is finding new traction in today’s technology-rich learning environment.

Distance education relies primarily on television as a delivery medium. Consequently, many educators have grown comfortable using video as a teaching tool. But distance education isn’t the only place video is making inroads.

Complementary developments are chronicled, starting on page 25, in Part One of our three-part series “Video Goes To School.” In this Special Report, we provide an overview of the rise of video in schools and colleges. You’ll learn where and how this is happening, and you’ll hear experts explain why the trend is accelerating just now.

Our three-part coverage of video in schools is augmented by eSN’s 2005 Student Video Discovery Awards. The purpose of these awards is to highlight and reward excellence in student-produced videos. The awards are intended to promote high-quality video journalism, encourage school and college video programs, and provide tangible incentives for excellence among students and schools. (For details, please visit http://www.eschoolnews.org/vda.)

You’ve heard a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, for those who act by April 8–the entry deadline for the Student Video Discovery Awards–a video clip can earn a shot at more than $30,000 in high-tech prizes for the schools and the experience of a lifetime for student producers of the award-winning videos. The technology–donated by such field-leading sponsors as Discovery Education, Cisco, Apple, Avid, and Macromedia–goes to the high school, community college, and university of the winning student video producers.

Prizes committed so far include these:

  • Three 17-inch iMac G5 1.8Ghz with SuperDrive, including an Apple Memory Module 256MB DDR400 PC3200 DIMM;
  • Nine copies of Apple’s Production Suite Academic;
  • Nine copies of Avid Xpress Pro software;
  • Six copies of Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004;
  • Three copies of Macromedia Studio MX 2004 with Flash Professional.

Additional prizes are being announced regularly, as the awards-ceremony date approaches.

The winning students and their educator supporters will be honored at a gala awards ceremony during the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Philadelphia, June 27-29. The award winners will have an opportunity to work with top-flight video professionals from the Discovery Channel and other video mentors along with the editors and reporters of eSchool News. Together, they’ll provide eSN’s Conference Information Center video coverage of NECC. Their work will be showcased on the world’s most-visited ed-tech publication web site (eSchool News Online).

Participating students will take away video clips of their eSN coverage for their college or career portfolios.

As this awards program demonstrates, video doesn’t mean just broadcast television anymore. Cable channels and video services are ratcheting up the demand for video content. Schools, colleges, companies, government agencies, civic organizations, political parties, and non-profit groups increasingly want video on their web sites.

With broadband internet access reaching critical mass in North America and in certain other parts of the world, the demand for web-based video is about to explode. The demand will not be satiated by traditional sources, so society will look to schools and colleges to develop new video producers to answer the call. Forward-looking schools and colleges already have recognized this trend and have begun to address it with programs like those identified in this issue of eSchool News.

An increased desire for video will not supplant the need to teach traditional, core competencies. On the contrary, it will underscore the need for those basics, perhaps supply a new motivation for students to acquire them, and provide educators with promising new techniques for instruction.

Calls for reform in education are compelling, important, and frequent. If you don’t like the current call for systemic change, just wait awhile. Another one will be right along.

Reformers cast their eyes to the horizon, but change sometimes happens right under our noses. Educators these days don’t need a crystal ball to see what the future will hold. One key component already is here. In fact, if you look carefully, you should be able to see it right now–on a video screen in a school near you.