For the winners of the first-ever eSchool News Student Video Discovery Awards (SVDA) program, being behind a camera is second nature. Last night, the students found themselves in front of the cameras as they were honored in a ceremony at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Philadelphia.

The six students and their educational advisors received trophies, free software, and other prizes for their outstanding creations using video technology. The ceremony marked a break from the rigor of their responsibilities producing video news reports of NECC events for the eSchool News web site (see http://www.eschoolnews.com/vrc/video.cfm).

“Video journalism plays an increasingly critical role in our society today, and it is one of the fastest-growing areas of study in schools and colleges. At all levels in education nowadays, video is used both as a learning experience and a communications tool for students,” said Gregg W. Downey, editor and publisher of eSchool News.

“Recognizing this trend, [we] created this award to honor excellence in student journalism and video production, while also providing a meaningful learning experience for the winners.”

Sponsored by Discovery Education, with additional support from Cisco Systems, Apple Computer, Avid Technology, Macromedia, and NEC, the SVDA program is intended to give students international visibility for their work–and some professional experience to boot.

The winners traveled to Philadelphia with the eSchool News editorial team to cover NECC and produce video news segments of conference focal points. Under the expert tutelage of professionals from Discovery, Apple, Avid, and local television station PBS 39, as well as their academic advisors, the students worked late into the night shooting film, editing clips, and producing professional-quality videos highlighting the key people and presentations at this year’s conference.

“I’ve had friends who have done college internships, and they’ve ended up pushing paper and having no control. This program is great, because students are really getting hands-on experience with video editing in a real-life news setting,” said Mike Dumont, an instructor at South Burlington High School (SBHS) in Vermont.

Dumont was the academic advisor on site for SBHS students Kyle Kelley and Brian Stevenson, who were among the winners of this year’s inaugural SVDA program. The others were Erik Archibald, Doug Waters, and Charles Horne from Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa., and their advisor, Marilyn Stinebaugh; and Jen Campbell from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Fla., and her advisor, Sandy Melillo.

Besides daily news clips on the eSchool News web site, the student video journalists also produced a 10-minute highlight reel of the conference, to be shown during the NECC closing ceremony on June 30.

At the June 29 awards ceremony, the winners–selected by a panel of professional journalists and video experts, including an Emmy-award-winning executive producer for the Discovery Channel–received free video equipment and prizes worth more than $50,000 for themselves and their schools, donated by corporate sponsors. The prizes, which will be divided among the winning schools, include:

  • Six copies of Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004;
  • Three copies of Macromedia Studio MX 2004 with Flash Professional;
  • Nine Avid Xpress Pro software packages;
  • 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 software; and
  • Cisco Systems is flying winners to its corporate headquarters in San Jose, Calif., to show them its multimedia studio.

Even more valuable to the students than these generous prizes, however, was the experience they gained reporting on the conference.

“I came here primarily with editing skills, and I’ll leave with a lot more reporting and lighting experience,” said SBHS’s Kelley. “I’m really excited that I now feel equipped with the tools to do more than just edit film.”

Links:

NECC video coverage
http://www.eschoolnews.com/vrc/video.cfm