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Why transforming your classroom into a film studio is good for student learning

Antje HeringScrolling through Vine or Snapchat, it’s incredible to see how much video content teens naturally create when left to their own devices. Now, one educator in Africa is harnessing his students’ natural proclivity for the medium to make them better-engaged members of their community.

Joel Bato, a teacher in technical drawing at Gayaza High School in Uganda, sends his students out into the community to create the kind of video content that instigates social change. Armed with camcorders and heads full of ideas, these students not only created engaging video content — they also learned about video production in the process.

Gayaza High School students have created documentaries that explored global warming and design plans for housing low, middle and high-income earners in their city. They’ve filmed a daily morning news program for students and teachers that made use of sophisticated green screen technology. They’ve even submitted their works to film festivals.

Bato says his goal was to give the students “an extraordinary learning experience” that they would not forget. He accomplished this by ensuring that they interact with their community in significant ways to build skills they could use after graduation.

Indeed, creating video content has long been seen as a valuable way to teach students skills they can apply to their future.

“It enables students to acquire a range of transferable skills in addition to filmmaking itself,” according to the University of Queensland. These include research skills, collaborative working, problem solving, technology, and organisational skills.

More recently, the creation of video content has been shown to increase student motivation, aid in the development of learner autonomy and even lead to higher marks.

Another benefit Bato found was that his project strengthened the bonds between his school and the wider community. “The learning activity stimulated curiosity, interest and care for the community,” he told eLearning Africa.

Bato is no stranger to using technology for social change. In 2011, he participated in the Microsoft Partners in Learning Education Forum. The event, which was held in Aqaba, Jordan, brought together 105 teachers from twenty seven countries to showcase their classroom projects that used technology in an innovative fashion to influence learning.

He was also awarded the Microsoft Pathfinder award for his work and was one of twenty one teachers who represented the Middle East and Africa region at the Partners in Learning World Educators Forum in Washington, D.C.

At eLearning Africa, Bato will enlighten attendees on how to bridge the divide between classroom and community in the creation of videos and more. Or, as he puts it:

“While the school has the noble role of educating the children of the community, the community also has the potential to educate the school.”



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