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Incorporating normalcy in eLearning

Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

still from jerry hines video

BCSD photo

In his typical classroom setting, Jerry Hines usually has his students grab a camera, go out and shoot video, and then return to the classroom for editing.

At Hanahan High, his media technology class, which is a career and technology education class – or CTE – is a very hands-on experience for his students, as they are working with the cameras, a green screen, lights and more.

“It’s basically broadcast technology,” he said.

When transitioning to eLearning, Hines was posed with an essential question: how do you teach a class largely built around hands-on interaction with cameras and editing software when the students probably don’t have one (or both) at home?

“That really was the biggest challenge,” he said.

To answer that question, Hines decided to center the lesson around writing stories for a broadcast setting and the set-up of a modern TV station – both of which he knows well, with a background in TV production that includes two decades at NBC Sports in Philadelphia. His accolades include four Emmy awards.

Teaching is a career change for Hines, who is wrapping up his first year in the profession, and was named the school’s Rookie Teacher of the Year earlier this semester. He is formerly from Kansas City but moved to the area for high school; he attended Stratford.

To adjust to the new eLearning setup, Hines opted to start writing, shooting and editing his lessons in such a way that his students can see him – both allowing them to get some sense of normal in an abnormal time while also allowing him to explain the lesson instead of them just reading a screen.

Hines went hard March 16 and 17 – the two days BCSD teachers spent preparing eLearning lessons that launched that Wednesday. He produced 10 video lessons for this students, all of which include humorous parts to them as well as Hines playing dress-up. For example, in his second lesson video, Hines made Mt. Everest the backdrop and switched into winter garb. He goes on to have a discussion on voice overs, sound bites, billboards and natural sound packages. He went on to give an assignment and then wrapped up with a quote of the day, movie of the day and song of the day.

The first comment he received regarding the videos was one from a student telling Hines how much the video made them smile – which was kind of the whole point for Hines, who aims to be a resource and a mentor to his students.

“I don’t want to be just another voice in their ear, I want to be like a North Star,” he said.

Hines posts the lessons via Google Drive, but the videos are also on the Hawk’s Eye View HHS YouTube channel. Students type up their assignments to send to Hines.

Hines said he wanted to keep things as normal as possible for his students while also introducing them to things they might not have seen or heard.

He said the videos have garnered a lot of support, including from Principal Tom Gallus, whom Hines said has been a “champion of innovation.”

“He’s a great principal,” he said.

Hines said he looks forward to preparing more videos like the ones already posted. Students have yet to dive into the hierarchy of a newsroom and how a news department runs.

While it has been a crazy first year of teaching, Hines said he has enjoyed the switch.

“It’s been eye-opening and rewarding,” he said.

Monica Kreber