Case Study: Learning Through Media Production

Learning Through Media Production

After four years of planning, grant writing, technological purchases and hard work, Essex High School's (EHS) Student Media and Art (SMART) Computer Lab in Essex Junction, Vt., will be fully operational, serving the school's 1,600 students in grades 9-12. The vision of the media lab program began five years ago thanks to forward-thinking administrators. "The superintendent and others have been strong proponents of this program from the beginning, and we all have been working together to see it come to fulfillment," says Victor Loya, an instructor at the SMART Computer Lab. "All along, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to build in terms of the technology and learning outcomes."

Because Loya managed his own video and animation business, he was familiar with nonlinear editing as well as lofty price tags for higher-end systems. After much due diligence, he bought 17 systems from 1 Beyond, a manufacturer of native digital video (DV), broadcast-quality multimedia and video-editing systems, based in Boston, Mass. "The company was very open and helpful in terms of which systems would be best for our school," says Loya. "I went to their office, test-drove a system, and decided for myself which system would meet our unique needs. I found the packaged programs to be robust, yet easy for the students to learn and use."

With PCs that are networked and equipped with native-DV editing and animation software, the lab will allow people to create videos, CD-ROMs and other multimedia projects for a wide range of scholastic activities. "We could afford many more 1 Beyond systems with the same broadcast quality that you find in other higher-end, more expensive systems," says Loya. "This allows us to give more students access to the tools they need to create their vision."

Last year, EHS offered movie and media classes, but students had limited editing time, with only one expensive competing editing system available. This year, EHS is offering classes in media production, movie production, animation, claymation and computer graphics.

Students are also using the system in other ways. Many complete video reports for social studies or English assignments, and athletes use the technology to journal their performance. The junior ROTC, which operates out of EHS, uses the system to put together an electronic yearbook. Teachers and guidance counselors are using the technology too. For teachers, the custom CD-ROMs provide an additional delivery tool. Rather than just lecturing to students, many are authoring CD-ROMs for their classes. Guidance counselors are using the system to record college material on CD-ROMs for seniors.

Through these efforts, teachers learn and grow professionally. "That is what is so nice about the lab, there are many ways to use the technology. It allows teachers to find new ways to cover the necessary material, while personalizing it to their own style," says Loya. "And as they learn how to use the system, they can help students be more creative, guiding them to learn and improve. Four years ago, if a student turned in a video book report, teachers were very impressed. But today, they are more critical of video projects in terms of the content and flow of a piece."

While Loya understands the technical benefit for his students, he believes they gain something more important. "Students have a great opportunity to find their own voice through the 1 Beyond systems in the SMART Lab," he says. "It helps them develop their creative side and who they will ultimately become in life."

To read a review of a 1 Beyond system, visit


Contact Information

1 Beyond Inc.
Somerville, MA
(877) 663-2396

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.