Luther High School Media Survey
Now more than ever, media is literally at the fingertips of people worldwide. For our small population of 240 students at Luther High School, it is no different as cellphones and Chromebooks are always within an arm's reach. Our teachers, too, sit in front of touch-screen monitors, tablets in-sync with projectors, smartboards, as well as access to their own personal cellphones and Wi-Fi-enabled devices. A dizzying amount of media opportunities awaits our students, teachers, and organizations. How do we as schools/churches, as individual educators or students, navigate the ocean of media to avoid frustration, distraction, and even angst, to instead produce fruitful outcomes that enable enjoyment, learning and faith-encouragement?
The Apostle Paul describes his secret to contentment and a worriless life in Christ in his inspired encouragement throughout Philippians chapter 4. So, we too at Luther High School take heart, that although we have no perfect solutions to applying media for our students and association, we can have assurance, as Paul, that we can "rejoice in the Lord always." "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us." We can go forth in confidence knowing "God will fully supply (our) every need, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." As this year's theme at our school directs: In Christ Alone can we begin the daunting task of preparing our students for this life and eternity with the media resources at our fingertips.
So what media is being incorporated at Luther? Let's start with the obvious, the web-based and social media most organizations have to some extent. Next, I will relay the media content my fellow teachers and I find useful for classroom incorporation. Finally, I will leave you with links to some examples of video media incorporation in several classes, especially digital video class.
Our home webpage and social media channels are listed below. In general, these sites have been a huge blessing for our association. Yearly we assess how properly to organize information on our website homepage so it is useful for our parents and students. Our Facebook page is a popular mode of communicating current activities with photo and video highlights. We are blessed to have a mission advancement department that manages the activity on this page. I highly suggest to any organization to limit how many people have editing rights to this platform. Care needs to be taken to plan posts and spread them out over time to avoid inundation of information for subscribers.
Our YouTube channels, with many livestreamed chapels, sporting events and videos, is also a popular platform as with many other organizations. We have most new YouTube videos highlighted with a link in Facebook to help direct our viewership. The livestreams of sporting events, chapels, and concerts have become an expected part of school operation, especially after the COVID years. As other schools have also found out, with many livestreams comes many videos. How should these be efficiently organized within the YouTube channel? Suggestions, anyone?
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weloveluther
- Homepage: https://www.lutherhigh.org/
- YouTube-Chapel Livestreams: https://www.youtube.com/c/Luthfilms
- YouTube-Sports Livestreams: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo1EBqk4ME-waSvr4-_UWWQ
Our Luther faculty graciously responded to a media survey which provided an overview of our classroom media usage (as a little incentive, I promised an animated Google Classroom banner for all responders — my digital video students helped make them. See below for examples). I was pleasantly surprised to see a diverse use of media programs and projects throughout our curriculum.
Like many schools, each student has their personal Chromebook. Most faculty make use of Google classroom pages to post daily assignments and materials. Some also make use of Google forms for quizzes. Online tests and quizzes are also conducted using a program called Skyward. As expected, many make use of interactive review sites like Kahoot!. Some incorporate video assignments using sites like Flip (formerly Flipgrid.
Here is a list of some unique media projects mentioned in the faculty survey:
- production of a 4-part hymn with the potential of using this hymn in a worship setting
- essays describing historical movies and their accuracy
- videos recreating Biblical stories
- custom soundtrack creations for movie shorts made with Ableton Live
- creative writing assignments, poetry, short stories
- essays describing how music is used in their life
Some assignments address dangers associated with media or social media:
- several classes collect student phones at the beginning of the class
- several classes give assignments where students discuss how they can responsibly use different social media and their cellphones
- one class proposes no-phone Fridays — participants give up their phone use all day
Finally, some faculty listed media they would like to use in the future:
- 360 video of an art museum
- 360 video of the Holy lands
- worship incorporation of student projects like hymns, short films, or even Christian rock Beat Saber songs
- using a photography unit to incorporate Gospel images
Our media assessment would be incomplete without sampling some projects throughout the years, most of them accomplished in our digital video classes. Without being exhaustive, a few selections are included below. We are especially trying to make use of some newer technology with the application of a GoPro 360 camera and a drone. See the "Newer Technology" section below. Along with this is a new venture into the world of VR (virtual reality) where we have attempted to promote Christian music using the Beat Saber VR application. We are hoping it is another avenue to introduce the Gospel story through a unique gaming platform. So far, we have published one custom song (with approval from the author) on Beatsaver.com (search "Stand In Faith"). Two more Christian songs are currently in the works. Do you want to know how this is accomplished? Send me an email.
Anyone carefully examining the published media by other high schools, grade schools, colleges, and churches would find many examples similar to the links listed below. Maybe an internet home page. Maybe some livestreams. Maybe a grandparent's day highlight video. Maybe a video promoting a Halloween trunk-or-treat or promoting a new building program. Maybe a Facebook or Instagram page with recent photos and updates. The fact is, media of our day have exploded far beyond the school newspapers of the past. There is no question an organization must be aware of the influence and proper use of its media. What platforms should be used? How often and what material should be posted? Who is in charge of updating this material? In the classroom, how and what media should be incorporated for learning? Not to mention, do we hire a media or publications specialist to help organize the media mania and encourage and develop proper use of it?
No doubt I have left you with more questions than answers. In fairness, that was an outcome I came to anticipate. Upon examining our own use of media in our school, I gained an even greater appreciation for why continual media assessment is essential.
So yes, keep doing what you are doing and what works. We here at Luther will do the same. But don't stop asking important questions like: Does it aid in learning, is it worth the cost, who is responsible for the updating of this media or technology, and does it support the mission of your school? Then move forward in confidence knowing that God is with you and will bless your efforts.
Video Media Examples:
Google Animated Banners as a thank you for teachers that responded to the media survey (here's a few samples of those banners — some made by digital video students)
- One student's submission to a WIAA (Wisconsin's state athletic association) video contest
Assist Area Schools/Churches/Organizations with promotional videos made by students:
Livestreams — Sports/Chapels/Concerts:
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