DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Gender Equity in Education

ggI recently read a report commissioned by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation called Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children. The report is a follow up to their first report, How Schools Shortchange Girls. While the report acknowledges that schools have made progress in providing an equitable education for both boys and girls, some concerns still remain.

The report examines several areas, including how many girls are taking math and science classes, the use of technology among girls, risk issues and preparedness for the workforce. I found the issue of technology use among girls to be particularly interesting. As the report mentions, “Girls make up only a small percentage of students in computer science and computer design classes. The gender gap widens from grade eight to eleven. Girls are significantly more likely than boys to enroll in clerical and data-entry classes, the 1990s version of typing, and less likely to enroll in advanced computer science and graphics courses.”

This concerns me, especially since more and more jobs and careers involve the use of computer technology. As the report says, “A competitive nation cannot allow girls to write off technology as exclusively male domain.”

The report makes several suggestions on how to alleviate this concern. They primarily target teacher professional development, stating “teachers need guidance on how to use classroom technologies to advance the dual goals of excellent and equitable education.” The word that stands out to me in this statement is “equitable.” While we as a society have long recognized the effectiveness of technology on learning in the classroom, how many of us see it as an issue of equity? This is a powerful idea.

Having myself taught in an elementary school classroom, I can attest to the difference between technology being introduced in the primary grades (such as kindergarten or first grade) compared to older grades (such as high school). The earlier technology is introduced into the classroom, the more equitable the access. Walk into any first grade classroom, for example, and you will find kids feeling free to participate in any activity. The later technology is introduced into the classroom, the wider the gap. Hence why there are fewer girls than boys enrolling in high school computer science classes.

However, if more middle and elementary school teachers began using technology in the classroom, imagine how the gap would narrow and how many more girls would have equitable access. To do this, we need district administrators, principals and teachers to see the value in professional development for teachers. We need to see more teachers at annual conferences like the Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs or online at webinars hosted by organizations like T.H.E Journal, a publication that focuses on technology implementation in K-12 schools and districts. Or what if across the country, computer classes hosted by the Digital Media Academy became a meeting place for teachers to inspire each other with ideas for reaching students through technology?

Because our courses are offered for Stanford University Continuing Studies units, many of our locations, like Stanford University, The University of Texas at Austin, or Darlington, South Carolina, are already annual meeting places for teachers. Many are taking classes like Web Design, Digital Filmmaking and Storytelling Bootcamp, Final Cut Pro (film editing), or Digital Photography and Photoshop. What would be greatly encouraging, however, is to see our programs be not just a meeting place for some teachers, but a meeting place for all teachers. An investment in each teacher’s professional development has a multiplying effect. Imagine the power that would be unleashed every September if teachers, refreshed and retrained through the summer, walked into classrooms all over the country with new ideas on how to apply technology into their everyday curriculum. As a society, we may actually move towards equity in education. And as the AAUW Educational Foundation wisely notes, “equity is the key to excellence in education.”

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Film Camp for Teens : Create, Write, Act, Produce, and Edit

Make a movie at Digital Media Academy Film Camp for Teens!

I have had the pleasure of being able to attend, direct, assist, and co-instruct all levels of DMA’s filmmaking programs, but I just wanted to talk about the youth film camp programs for a moment. We’ve seen a lot of girls very interested in the film industry and these film camps. Both guys and girls get the chance to work in a real world film set and get a taste of the movie making action.  Teen and youth students get the opportunity to create their own movie from scratch during the 5 day summer camp. The class starts with brainstorming creative story ideas and actually writing a movie script. Throughout the week-long bootcamp style filmmaking course students are able to write the script, act in the scenes, scout out shooting locations, shoot the film, edit the video with a pro level app like Apple’s Final Cut Pro, and produce their own DVD to take home. What a week! 

DMA students get to act as a producer, screenwriter, actor / actress, director, scout, art director, digital video editor, and more! This is a truly amazing experience. 

teen film camp - Making a Movie

I have a lot of great memories across many of our university campuses with a green screen, mic boom, or extra camera trying to get in one last video shoot for the film camp. These film courses are always fun and creative. The learning experience is hands-on and directly duplicates being on the set making, acting, and directing a Hollywood picture. The camera equipment, audio equipment, lighting kits, and computer & software technology is always the best available.

Digital Media Academy also offers similar Film Camps for Kids and Filmmaking Courses for Pro Adults in addition to the Teen Film Camps.

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Learning Apple Final Cut Pro, Logic and Motion : How do I remember?

Written by Seamus Harte of the John Lennon Bus

A lot of the time when I’m out and about on the streets of these United States curious folks come up to me and ask, “Hey Seamus, remember this past December when you stayed at a bed and breakfast in San Francisco and trained with DMA instructors for 3 weeks to get your certifications up to date with all the Apple Pro Applications you use on board the Lennon Bus?”, and I say, “Yes! How could I forget the best month of my life!!” and they say “Yes, how could you!!” and I say, “I don’t know, that’s what I just said” and they say “Right!!”, and then they go on with, “so I was wondering…How did you possibly manage to stuff all that information in your head in such a short period of time?” so that is when I tell them this…  I used gFlash Pro.

gFlash Pro is an iPhone Application that allows you to create and review digital flash cards so you can study and quiz yourself wherever you are. It’s rockin’ a stellar 4 star rating on the iTunes App Store. It allows you to create a Google Spreadsheet using Google Documents and then access that information on your iPhone through gFlash Pro in the format of a flash card.

So this is how I personally put that process to work.

I created separate Google Spreadsheets for each of the courses we took during the 3 week period:

FCP 300: Advanced Techniques in Final Cut Pro 6
Logic 101: An Introduction to Logic Pro
Logic 301: Advanced Techniques in Logic Pro
Motion 101: A Comprehensive Study of Motion 3

Within the individual spreadsheets I input all of the review questions for each course. I input the question in column A and the answer in column B. I repeated this process until I had input all of the review questions for each course. I then shared the document with all gWhiz Mobile Users allowing it to be used by anyone that has access to gFlash Pro to brush up their knowledge of the programs.

The instructors that worked with us from DMA (Digital Media Academy) were amazing. They took us deep into the programs and really showed us how to utilize the tools to their fullest potential. Having the ability to review all of these lessons in the palm of my hand is an amazing feature of the iPhone. I constantly quiz myself while I’m on the bus and moving from place to place to make sure I am always at the top of my Pro Applications game.

I’ve made my set of flash cards available for everyone to use on gFlash Pro. You can get gFlash on your iPhone by visiting the iTunes store and downloading the application. Once you have the application on your phone simply touch the icon “Download”. Once this is selected you will be prompted to select the source you wish to download from. I have made my flash cards available from the gWhiz Catalog so select “Download” on that option.

You can then select over hundreds of different card sets to study from. I have listed mine as below:

DMA/LENNON BUS: Logic Pro Level 2
DMA/LENNON BUS: FCP 300
DMA/LENNON BUS: Motion 101

I hope this helps some of you brush up on your Pro Application user skills. Remember if you are getting ready to take a certification test these suckers will be your new best friend.

Thanks for checkin’ it out.

- uncle seamus jr.

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Kids Learning Pro Web Design at Age 10! Technology Classes + Computer Camp for Kids

“Wow! That animation looks great! Ok. Now we’re going to take the animated Flash movie you just created and you are going to import it into Dreamweaver on your web page. Let’s all do this together! Ready?”

I am right in the middle of another great Digital Media Adventures course for kids at Stanford: Web Design and Flash. We are taking an in depth look at the Adobe Creative Suite applications: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Adobe Flash. We are on the third day of the five-day course at Stanford University. My class just got back into the classroom from playing a crazy game of Slaughter Ball. It sounds scary, but it’s a lot of fun. Sort of like Dodge Ball. The kids in my class are a little out of breath from playing ball, but that’s to be expected at a summer camp. They came running in and jumped (literally) in their seats excited about their Flash movies they created just before the break.

While the kids are experiencing all the fun of a summer camp, they are also getting an unbelievable learning experience. That’s what makes this the full summer computer camp experience. They are learning the same pro applications we are teaching across the Stanford campus in our adult web design courses. The professional Adobe applications like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash are the real deal! The kids pick up the technology so fast. That makes it really fun to teach. It’s interesting how much better kids interact with technology they have grown up with their whole life.

Earlier in the week, the kids in my class had already designed and created their own logo and company business card design. Their custom business card had their picture from a photograph taken in the class. The graphics and effects they created turned out amazing. They had learned the ins and outs of the Adobe software and were creating a matching website to go with their cards and logo. They were now adding an animated movie they created in Flash to spice up their website design.

In the next three classrooms I can faintly hear the other Adventures classes. The kids in 3d video Game Design course are screaming about some new level they created trying to destroy their enemy. From the Robotics and Programming class I can hear cheers of two robots racing. I see the Film, Digital Movie Making and Effects class go by with all their cameras, mics, lights, and scripts to go act, film, and direct their next scene. I wish I’d been exposed to this when I was this age! This computer camp is the real deal.

kids computer camp learning and fun

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Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp @ Stanford University

Last summer the Digital Media Academy offered a brand new filmmaking course and I was honored that they had chosen me to teach the class. The course was Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp and it was a huge success. We wanted to create a class where students could come in and learn every aspect of filmmaking in five action packed days. That’s exactly what we did and it resulted in one of the best screenings in any of my closing DMA film festivals.

The typical student that enrolls in Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp comes in with a little or no filmmaking experience, but leaves with a movie that they shot, edited, and compressed for DVD and web. We shoot with professional Sony HD cameras and edit with screaming fast Macs on Final Cut Pro. In fact, at times I found myself jealous that my students have better equipment to learn with, than the equipment I have at my studio to produce content with ;) .

Before teaching the class, I knew it would be a busy 5 days but I had no idea how much fun I would have teaching it. When the screening came we had 20 students with 20 amazing films to watch. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to watch students learn how to plan, shoot, edit, and distribute their films in such a short amount of time. I invite you to watch a couple of the videos that I posted from this class.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5F9xed74Q8

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRa0F8kkAqk

Both of these videos were created from students that had no experience shooting or editing. They are definitely two different genres but both videos are an amazing success for students with no prior experience.

You can also check out the Teen Filmmaking Bootcamp Courses geared specifically to teens or the Kids Film & Movie Making Courses.

Till next time,
Travis Schlafmann
DMA Instructor/Cinematographer & Editor

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HD and Blu-ray Quality Movies Getting Too Real?

There I am standing in front of the most beautiful high definition audio and visual setup money can buy. I have completely lost reality of where I am. I have totally forgotten what I am doing inside an electronics store. I am surrounded with the televisions, computers, cameras, gadgets and only the latest technology (at the best prices I’m told), but none of that matters to me now. I have completely lost touch with reality. I am completely transfixed with the 60″+ flat screen, crisp surround sound system with the super 1200 watt subwoofer, and the high definition blu-ray player in front of me. It seems nothing can suck me out of this odd technology trance I have been sucked into.

High Definition Experience

For a moment I feel as though I am a real pirate in the Caribbean on board with Captain Jack and the crew. I get kind of grossed out with Davy Jones squirming tentacles. Ewww. I never noticed his mouth moved like that when he talked! I have to turn away, but my eyes become glued to another 65″ flat plasma screen. Then I am suddenly on the back of a funny looking dragon flying down into a huge canyon. As silly as it sounds, I was momentarily scared. Then I stop and realize the 3d dragon looks…. fake. Lame. I turn to another huge LCD flat-screen to get pulled into an amazing live concert. Now this is great! The crowd is screaming. The music is pumping out of the awesome surround sound speakers, the lights are flashing. I feel like I am inside a Rock Band video game. I feel like I am on the front row at the concert…. and all of a sudden I realize how scratched and ugly Sting’s guitar is. Actually, the whole group looks really old. Look how much he is sweating. OK. That’s enough.

Then, all of a sudden I am pulled out of my technology trance and out of the home video and audio department. I need to go find the Apple computers. Do they have those new 17″ MacBook Pro laptops yet?

As I stroll back down the large aisles I begin to think about how quickly technology is moving. Can designers, digital artists, 3d animators, filmmakers, audio technicians, and creative programmers keep up? You better bring your best 3d models and animated characters if your viewers are going to be critiquing them on a ginormous flat screen TV with the highest of high definition disc players.

Think about it. I was snapped out of the movie by thinking about how fake the 3d character looked in the movie. If the the movie had been on a low resolution, old-school setup, I might have been able to pass over the poorly rendered and animated polygons. I wouldn’t have noticed. I’m just saying…. 

It’s time to flex your creative muscle at Digital Media Academy. Get in some of the computer courses this summer at any of the prestigious summer locations.

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Girls and Technology … and DMA

When I was an engineering student over ten years ago at the University of Illinois, I was often one of a few girls in classes of 50 to 100 students.  I knew every girl in each graduating class of my engineering program.   We rallied around each other, aware that the low representation of girls in our engineering classes was possibly, though unintentionally, discouraging young girls from pursuing technical fields of study.

Now that I am working for a company focusing on providing creative, computer-based experiences for kids and teens, I am grateful to see that my experience as an engineering college student is no longer the norm.  Increasingly, girls are exploring new areas of interest.  Last summer, we had over 300 girls take classes here at the Digital Media Academy, in areas like filmmaking, web design, video game creation, robotics and animation.young-girl-in-class

The most popular courses taken by girls, both in our Teen program and in our Adventures program, were filmmaking courses.  In fact, across all of our locations, Hands-on Filmmaking for Teens averaged 42% girls and 58% boys at both beginning and advanced levels.  In some weeks, the number of girls actually exceeded the number of boys!  At a younger age, our Adventures in Movie Making and Special Effects course, for kids ages 9-13, averaged 32% girls and 68% boys.  The most popular class for girls in our Adventures program was Adventures in Web Design and Flash, which averaged 47% girls and 53% boys.

Taking a closer look at what courses girls are choosing, there are some common themes.   Both filmmaking and web design, while deeply technical, are also very relational and creative areas of exploration.  Our filmmaking courses are designed to have students work in groups, from creating a storyboard to post-production editing.  The experience is very relational, and the end product is a film that communicates and expresses the group’s creativity.  Our web design courses also serve a similar purpose.  While the work itself is less group based, the end product is an individual web site that distinctively communicates each student’s creative expression to the world.

Perhaps these common themes can help make some of our other classes more popular to girls.  Historically in our summer camp program, the ratio of boys to girls in classes like video game creation and robotics is 10 to 1.  What can be done to make these classes more attractive to girls?teen-girl-at-computerAre the topics, inherently less a vehicle for communication, less attractive to girls by nature?  Or, in video game creation, are there different types of games that may be more appealing to girls?  Or, like my engineering classes in college, are these classes less attractive simply because of the historically lower representation of girls?

Whatever the answers to these questions, we will continue exploring and will certainly do our best to make all of our DMA experiences meaningful to boys and girls alike!

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments