Creating student authors.

A blog by @mircwalsh

Creating student authors.

Each year I teach digital media and that includes the creation of all kinds of digital media by my students ranging from photos to videos, websites and multi-touch books.
My one group have four subjects including Work Experience. This is a subject I never chose to teach but one I found myself taking on a few years ago.
Because it was new to me and I got it half way through the year I have to admit it I winged it that first year. Second time the students all got work experience and then last year they also got work placements. The work placements while fulfilling the criteria of the module didn’t give them digital media experience. They would often find themselves in non-profits or stacking shelves in shops. Both valuable experiences but not opportunities to put their class learning into practice.

Fast forward to this year I had a very different group. A group who longed for a little more and who really wanted ‘real world’ experience in the area of digital media. While finding work experience for 1 or 2 would have been possible finding similar experience for the whole class was proving to be quite the challenge and so we came up with the idea to simulate a real work placement experience whereby they create and publish their own monthly newsletter.

In the 11 class weeks before Christmas the students learned all the skills they would end up putting into practice and just three weeks ago started their 10 week placements. These placements are just for 60 hours (1 day per week) and after a few ‘staff’ meetings they each found their roles from editor or as they like to call him ‘boss man’ to photographer, videographer and social media co-ordinators.
As a teacher I was cautiously optimistic about their enthusiasm but when the time came felt confident enough to cut the strings and let them work unsupervised.

After the first day they came to me with a draft asking for my ‘expert’ advice.
After the second day they said ‘we think we will be finished next week’….insert my shocked face 😲
After the third day they were true to their word and sent me their completed newsletter to proof read later that day.
The next day we uploaded the proof read (with a few minor typos corrected) newsletter to the Apple Books Store and they celebrated it’s official release a couple of days later.

As I have shown the newsletter to other teachers I have been asked what my input was, what template did they use, how much of it did I do and I can proudly say that it is a 100% student created publication.
Over the next couple of months more issues will be released and I am sure their creativity and confidence will grow.

While Peek has proven a valuable experience for my students it has also taught me that work experience doesn’t just have to be one of those ‘tick the box’ modules and can be creative.

You can find Issue 1 of Peek to download for free here