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Educational Media Producers - Educational Television Programming, Instructional Programming, Industrial Educational Media, Changing Technologies

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A variety of programming opportunities may be pursued by a person who is interested in becoming an educational media producer. They all involve hard work (e.g., researching a topic, interviewing experts, writing scripts, blocking shots, shooting footage, editing the footage, promoting the finished product, and ultimately airing the program), but they all provide the opportunity to work creatively on a fulfilling enterprise.

Educational Television Programming

There are many outlets for educational television programming, including Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, the History Channel, the Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E), and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In fact, there are dozens of channels that want good “educational” programming. Getting into the business, however, is difficult. For some students, there may be hidden opportunities.

PBS stations are licensed in four ways: to the community, to the state, to a technical college, or to a university. For those stations that hold a technical college or university license, the station is generally affiliated with the local university or technical college. For students who are obtaining a degree in the television production or communication arts arenas, there may be employment opportunities at these local PBS stations. Coming out of any undergraduate program with experience at a local PBS station gives students a valuable advantage over other applicants.

Students generally can work at these television stations as a studio crew person. They can operate studio cameras, control room switchers, and teleprompters, or they can floor manage the productions. They might assist in lighting studio and/or remote locations, or they might help with scenic design. They might also work as a production assistant, where they log tapes and assist with tasks—such as setting up shoots—that every producer must learn. For students who show promise, these production houses often allow for the opportunity to produce segments under supervision. This provides a training ground where students can sort out whether they want to produce programs or go into other, more technical fields such as sound recording or videography/editing, or whether they might be more suited for graphic design and/or animation work. There are also “enhanced television” arenas that deal with web-sites and the Internet. All of these areas, no matter how technical, still require creativity and ingenuity in putting programs together. All of them demand advanced computer skills and a bachelor’s degree.

Instructional Programming

Teachers often use videos in the classroom to assist with lessons from geography to history, or when dealing with more sensitive issues such as diversity.

Producing educational media for the classroom is an option for someone who wants to teach children but who does not want to be a classroom teacher. A double major in education and communication arts would be good preparation for such a career. Work in this area will require a familiarity with state educational stan-dards—standards that students must meet before graduating from high school. A producer of classroom videos needs to work with an advisory board that consists of teachers, state education department staff, and other professionals with appropriate areas of expertise. In other words, producing a series on geography, on history, on math, or on diversity necessitates engaging expert educators (e.g., local university professors) from those specific areas. A familiarity with curriculum development, which is possessed by anyone who has a degree in education, is also helpful when producing instructional videos. However, the field is not limited to just those individuals who have degrees in education. Expertise in a particular subject area may be just as valuable. For example, someone who has a double major consisting of science and a communication arts may be ideally suited for the creation of science videos. This idea of double majors can be extended to almost any other subject area.

Most research shows that successful educational programs for children incorporate interactivity. Instructional programming for the classroom deals with more than a series of videos on a specific topic; it requires ancillary materials that stretch into Internet functions and employ website design, HTML editing, online courseware, teacher guides, and/or CD-ROM or DVD media. It all comes as a package, and thus the media producer becomes a multimedia producer.

Industrial Educational Media

In any given region, there are hundreds of jobs that require video production. Rather than investing in their own video production facilities, the individual companies will instead look to outsiders to produce the desired videos. This “indus-trial” educational media production provides a more commercial environment in which to work.

The subject matter with which they will be asked to deal is extremely varied. It could cover anything from television advertisements for a company that just came out with a new, technologically innovative software program; to hospitals that need to demonstrate new surgical procedures; to mental-health facilities that model new treatment techniques for social-service providers. It might be a university women’s studies department that has funds to produce tapes for women in rape crisis situations, or a social-work department that is producing a tape about teaching high-risk students, or maybe an engineering department that has a grant with outreach requirements that can be fulfilled through the distribution of a video production.

The pace for the creation of industrial educational media and the nature of the final product might be somewhat different from other educational products, but there is definitely less bureaucracy involved with the production of industrial media. What may be more important for some, the opportunities provided by the production of industrial educational media can help driven individuals to create their own production companies.

Changing Technologies

It must be recognized that people are no longer simply just watching television. With the arrival of digital television and other communication advancements, producers must begin to reach out to people wherever they are. Online and on video, in words and in music, educational media producers must extend educational programming into homes, into classrooms, into libraries, and into the workplace. Therefore, the opportunities for using creativity to improve education will continue to expand as new technologies continue to develop.

Educational Technology Standards - INTRODUCTION, E-LEARNING: A BRIEF BACKGROUND, THE LEARNING TECHNOLOGY STANDARDS, Learning Objects [next] [back] Education, Discrimination in Higher - STUDENT ISSUES, FACULTY ISSUES

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