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Student voice: Social and mobile learning @SXSWedu

3 min read


The 2014 SXSWedu Conference & Festival kicked off yesterday in Austin, Texas. SmartBrief Education is on the ground, bringing readers regular coverage of the event.

From advice on taking better selfies — and better photos in general — to tips on getting clear audio when recording video with a mobile device, young filmmakers from John B. Connally High School showcased best practices in social and mobile learning during the SXSWedu Playground session: Teachers as Executive Producers of Digital Media — #UProducing.

When education conferences include students in the discussion — in the teaching and learning — I know I’m at an event where students matter. I arrived in Austin yesterday for SXSWedu just in time to take part in an afternoon hands-on lesson in the playground, a casual learning space where attendees can engage with educators, students and vendors.

I stopped by for a session facilitated by John B. Connally High School teacher Humberto A. Perez on teachers as executive producers of digital media. The inclusion of students in a shared-facilitation model in which students led the majority of the session set this event apart. It was exciting to see the young filmmakers share insights, anecdotes and experiences with listeners about using mobile technology in video production.

Perez and his students led us in a series of lessons aimed at helping us become producers of media instead of passive consumers. The students taught us about best practices for shooting photos and videos, including the rule of thirds.

“I think teachers are really intimidated with video, but it’s not that hard,” Perez said. “You really let the students do the work like they did today. You just have to guide them,” he said.

We also learned about ideal positioning of mobile devices when taking photos and videos and how to position the body to keep video steady when shooting with a mobile device. But my favorite piece of advice had to be this one from one of the student presenters: Try to keep your phone at chin level when you’re recording so your microphone doesn’t pick up your breathing, unless you’re recording a horror film.

Stay tuned for additional conference coverage. Read our Q-and-A with SXSWedu Executive Producer Ron Reed.

Melissa Greenwood is SmartBrief’s senior education editor, with responsibility for the content in a variety of SmartBrief’s education briefs. She also manages content for SmartBlog on Education and related social media channels. Prior to joining SmartBrief, Melissa held a variety of positions in the education field, including classroom teacher and education editor and writer.