Following the lead of the county’s own Kennedy Space Center, Brevard County (Florida) Public Schools wanted to provide access to space age video technology to 75,000 students in its 82 public schools. Though they were challenged by geography and budget constraints, they knew it was time to reach for the stars. The administration wanted each school to write, direct and produce its own weekly news broadcast, but this would require some special planning.

Brevard County hired Scott Carrico, an award winning documentary producer, who previously worked for a government access channel. His challenge was to solve the problem of how to implement these star-reaching broadcasts without breaking the budget and having to hire a huge staff of technicians. Carrico knew that Brevard County needed software that would allow people of any age and technological aptitude to create video presentations with a professional quality look and sound. He found Visual Communicator Studio by Serious Magic to be the ideal solution.

At a meeting with Dr. Richard DiPatri, Superintendent of Brevard County Public Schools, Carrico introduced Visual Communicator Studio as the perfect software to enable students to produce a high quality news broadcast. Because it is reasonably priced, requires little extra equipment to buy, and teachers can be trained to run it themselves, it is a natural fit for the educational environment. He pointed out that this software would give each school’s segments of “School News Now” a uniformly professional appearance.

Low cost, high capabilities

Carrico’s goal was to make the schools aware of Visual Communicator Studio first so he asked for authorization to buy one copy for the schools to use at the school board’s facilities. However, Dr. DiPatri was so impressed with the software, and Carrico’s enthusiasm for it, that he immediately authorized Carrico to buy not just a single copy, but one for every public elementary, middle and high school in the county.

After purchasing the software, Carrico traveled from school to school installing and loading Visual Communicator Studio onto a computer at each school and demonstrating the features it offered. He even showed the teachers the kind of news shows they could produce by quickly putting one together on the spot himself. Carrico trained approximately 25 teachers at each school to use the new software. In four-hour training sessions he showed them the possibilities and outlined the superintendent’s requirements for the two-minute news shows they would be producing.

Roberta O’Brien, media specialist at Freedom Seven School in Cocoa Beach, Florida, watched the installation of the software with interest and immediately collaborated with Joan Bell, the school’s technology specialist, on project ideas they could implement in their school. So far, they have only used it with the upper elementary grades to produce their school’s news show, but since O’Brien also teaches writing to kindergarten through fourth grades, she and Bell are brainstorming ways to use the software with the younger students as well.

Many more possibilities

Bonnie Tucker, a nationally certified teacher in the areas of Career and Technology/Arts and Media, has taught TV production for seventh through twelfth grades at West Shore Junior/Senior High School for the past five years. Tucker uses Visual Communicator Studio every day with all her classes. When asked her opinion, Tucker beams and says the only problem is that she would love to have several more copies of the software.

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