I recently had the opportunity to watch an exceptional group of high school journalism students in action at Unity Composite High School in Saskatchewan, Canada. With tremendous support from the divisions’ ICS Assistant Manager, Ryan Kobelsky, students from UCHS and students from the Uttam Girls’ School near Delhi, Indian, broadcast a joint, simultaneous newscast that took place on Skype across a distance of 11,000 kilometers and 12 time zones.
Ruth Cey, classroom teacher and UCHS Assistant Administrator, had proposed to her Journalism 20 class that they do an international broadcast with a partner school. She explored possibilities on Skype In The Classroom and then, not satisfied that there was a suitable partner, she approached a student in her class, Kezia, asking her if she knew of a school in India that would be interested in a joint project. She was aware that Kezia had connections and thought this might be a more effective way of finding a class with whom they could collaborate to create a series of television articles about daily life in India and Canada.
Kezia was soon on board and became the go-between in India, teaching about the project in the classroom at the Uttam School for Girls, using the tools from the journalism wiki and then conveying all sorts of information to the students and the school administration. During the month that Kezia was in India they stayed in touch via telephone and email. To quote Ms. Cey “she was brilliant – responsible and committed”. When Ruth was concerned that the project might not get done in a timely matter, Kezi assured her that it would. She was the lynch-pin in communicating and coordinating the Indian part of the project.
That evening the excitement in the studio was palpable as the class of 22 students, teachers, parents, guests, principal, and the press took their places to watch the live production.
The control centre; tricaster, teleprompter, camera, lights, Skype laptop, and green screen were all ready to go and breaths were bated as the Skype call was placed – a spontaneous round of applause broke out when contact was made and the voices from 11,000 kilometers away were heard. The broadcast was underway!
Anchors from each school introduced their segments and the Master Controller, Heather, mixed the live feed, the Skype feed and the recorded video on the fly. Director Ryan maintained Skype contact with the Uttam Times artfully signing them on and off. Producer, Kezia, whose hard work contributed to the evening’s successful broadcast provided Hindi translation services when necessary and problem-solved when the final recorded segment seemed lost in cyber-space. Due to some quick thinking on the part of one of the anchors and a guest appearance by Ms. Cey enough time was bought to allow the inclusion of the elusive video.
Another round of applause occurred when the newscast ended and the final sign off completed. The one hour broadcast and the newscast team of eight; producer, master controller, teleprompter, the three UCHS and two Uttam anchors belies the hours of planning, researching, interviewing, writing and filming that was undertaken by the Journalism students at UCHS and the students at the Uttam School for Girls.
To paraphrase Ruth Cey, the purpose of the project was not only to provide an authentic, genuine journalism experience but also to connect, collaborate and ultimately encounter and experience cultural similarities and differences – and so they did from the rural Canadian world of pick-up trucks and hockey to the more poetic use of language and the world of billiards, golf and tennis of the Uttam School for Girls.
The streaming video has been archived. Students are currently reviewing and editing some of the footage so there maybe a few changes once final exams are completed. Contact Ruth Cey (@ruthcey) for information about how this inquiry-based journalism project came to be and contact Ryan Kobelsky at the Living Sky School Division for information about the technical aspects of the project.