Set Up Your Own Digital Media Lab for Next to Nothing

A green screen and a Mac turn a storage space into a hi-tech playground

media-labBack when I was in school, class projects were limited to written reports, dioramas, and posters—things we could create with pencils, paper, Popsicle sticks, and glue. To say our students today have many more options available to them would be the understatement of the 21st century.

With the advent of lightning-quick computers and gorgeous digital media tools, students are now dreaming up PowerPoint presentations, Prezis, websites, wikis, Photo Stories, and more—things limited only by their imaginations. Creating these types of digital projects has become second nature to them, and they have no concept of a time when these technologies were not available. In fact, creating digital media has become a very personal matter. Just look on Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter and you will see that our students are creating and sharing digital content on a daily basis.

As educators, it behooves us to find ways to provide opportunities that allow our students to engage in learning activities relevant to their lives. As a library media specialist, I know there’s no better place to provide them with these opportunities than a school’s own library media center.

With all of this in mind, I recently decided to renovate an old storage room in our school library into a cutting-edge digital media lab. My plan was to provide a space where students and staff could explore their creativity using digital media, and my hope was that they would use these tools to create authentic, curriculum-related projects.

I’m happy to say, that’s exactly what happened. Our students are now creating weekly newscasts, commercials, book trailers, weather reports, and much more. They have become roving reporters, interviewers, editors, directors, commentators, producers, and musicians. They have become creators of content and not just consumers. And, amazingly, I was able to do it all without breaking the bank.

If you think you would like to create a digital media lab in your school, here are some tips to get started.

Next page: 4 ways to set up a cost-effective lab

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