Teaching 21st Century Communication Skills

More than ever, students demand to see the real-life relevancy of what they are doing and learning. Much of this has to do with the evolving digital age, and the ease and instant gratification which technology often affords. Regardless, teachers face an uphill battle when students fail to see the practical application of a given subject.

As for me, I saw no use in continuing to teach newspaper layout, an antiquated skill. I suggested that the School forego printing a physical product. I wanted to introduce students to Web 2.0, and the way in which technology is changing the face of communication.

To succeed in today’s newsroom, journalists don’t just report, write and submit—they know how to produce quality journalism in multiple mediums. With Mr. Murphy’s blessing, I designed an early version of The Falconer, the student news site of Palmer Trinity School. When class began that fall, students showed great interest in learning about blog design. Students continued to make improvements to the site, culminating in The Falconer’s 2012 redesign.

In addition to honing conventional writing and reporting skills, students learn visual storytelling. Enthusiastic reporters produce quality broadcasts about sports, classroom activities and school events. They learn basic code and how to manage Vimeo.com, our video hosting site. Photographers also make great use of Animoto, a Web-based tool that allows users to create stunning slideshows.

Athletic Director Jake von Scherrer and Preston Michelson ’13 also introduced the class to PlayOn! Sports, which allows for live streaming. From big sporting events to graduation and high-profile visits, students provide the wider community with live coverage, accessible to anybody with a Smartphone or Internet connection.

The Falconer’s growing success prompted me to teach green screen photography and advanced video editing.

Does your school teach similar skills? I would love to hear from you.

Does your school do something similar?

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