By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
In today’s working world, it is necessary to have a grasp on how to use technology. There is an issue of a Digital Divide between those that competently use technology like computers, smart phones and the internet and those that can’t open up a web browser.
Those that can use technology perceive and navigate modern and advancing platforms as common sense, according to TechTarget’s definition. This is usually because they have been exposed to such platforms during their developing years. Those that struggle, don’t understand how to use technology as easily due to their restricted access. An important form of access is through public education.
Bath and DeWitt High Schools are preparing students for college life as well as the work force. One area of importance that can seem to be easily overlooked in a public school curriculum is media arts.
Media arts is an area in which art expression and production is done through technological devices like cameras and computers. A few examples of career markets that can come out of this area are movie and television production, animation, web design, and video game design.
Media arts can be beneficial in many ways, one being it is another means of educating how technology works and how it can be manipulated through programming, lessening the amount of people that could get stuck behind the Digital Divide.
In the cases of Bath and DeWitt High School, they each provide a good amount of courses to students that could not only further understand how technology works, but potentially find they want to go into related fields like computer science, media arts, or production.
DeWitt High School, “a class A school” as described by Bath High School Computer Science teacher Gloria Bond, has provided students with many different types of art classes, including media and computer development classes.
According to DeWitt’s 2015-2016 Curriculum Guide this list of classes includes Graphic Design, a course that introduces basic fundamentals of graphic design, the elements and principles of design and an introduction to basic computer graphics, with an emphasis on good design, creativity, craftsmanship, effort and final presentation, as well as a basic PhotoShop CS5 knowledge.
DeWitt also provides ‘Graphic Design 2,’ a sequel to Graphic Design, further identifying the components of the design process on paper and computer, which has become an integral tool in all art careers, as described on DeWitt High School’s Curriculum Guide. This class uses creative problem solving as well as teaches more techniques of computer design with Adobe Photoshop CS5.
There is also a web development class, which introduces the basics in creating web sites, as well as a class called Mobile Apps Development. This course creates applications for platforms like Google Android OS and Microsoft Windows Phone 7, using specialized development environments.
Under DeWitt’s Curriculum Guide in the section f0r other technology classes provided, there are two course listed: Pre-Engineering and Robotics.
Pre-Engineering, as described in curriculum guide, teaches experiences in Computer Aided Design and Drafting (C.A.D.D.), Computer Aided Manufacturing (C.A.M.), Computer Numerical Control (C.N.C.) machining on a mill, lathe and router, robotics and material handling, electrical sensor applications, and group design projects; such as, house designs and lathe projects.
Robotics is designed to give students the basic understanding of robotic programming and design concept, by learning how to program basic robot behaviors using motors and rotation, sound, light, touch and ultrasonic sensors.
Having a knowledge on design applications as well as being introduced to basic programming, and robotics and engineering through these classes, not only provides a more in-depth look at technology, but opens doors for students that might not have previously considered those fields.
“During my junior and senior year of high school, we had a career prep program through LCC called RESA,” said Michigan State University Media and Information student Claudia Price. “I did the digital media production program. I wasn’t really sure of it at first, but I had a really great teacher who went to MSU. He helped me a lot.”
Sometimes, all it takes is showing students these types of classes to get them interested in pursuing them.
“Pretty much, [that is what got me into production],” said Price. “I got really into movies and TV around that time and I started thinking about how they’re made and what it takes to make them.”
Bath High School, although much smaller than DeWitt, has also done well to provide computer and media art classes to their students. They even seem to have more.
“I don’t know if we are ahead of other schools,” said Bond. “Anecdotally, I think we are at least doing well.”
Bond, a certified Computer Science teacher, has introduced programs to Bath like Computer Animation, which uses Blender, a 3D modeling creation suite, as well as the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program coordinated with Lansing Community College in Systems Networking and Telecommunications.
The CTE program teaches Python Programming, Visual Basic Programming, Web Design and Advanced Web Design and Networking as a program. Included in the program is the Cisco Net Academy course, IT Essentials, according to Bond.
“I would like to say that we are preparing our students well for what they may need later, but sometimes it is hard to say,” said Bond. “We are trying to get our students ready for careers that may not be created yet.”
“We are trying to teach our students how to keep learning,” said Bond.
Another media art class provided by Bath High School is Media Production.
“I have taught Media Production for the past five years,” said Bath High School teacher Chris Rypstra. “Before that, another teacher taught it for one year while I taught strictly Journalism. Now the class is blended, with more of an emphasis on video production. The class is mostly hands on with students creating a wide variety of media production pieces.”
“As far as technology goes, we are pretty good,” Rypstra said. “My classroom has 15 iMacs with iMovie HD and iMovie 6 on them. The class is a bring your own camera class with most students using their cell phones.”
Although college can be considered the time to truly explore and decide what major and field to go into, it is not uncommon for students to have a preconceived idea by the end of their high school careers.
“I became interested in film at a very young age,” said MSU Media and information student Peter O’Connor. “I’ve been making short films since I was in elementary school, however, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I realized that film production is my passion.”
“I took two video classes in high school where we created the morning announcements and made special feature videos of things going on in my high school,” O’Connor said. “Most of my film production stuff was outside of school and self taught, though.”
It is important that high schools like Bath and DeWitt have provided these media art and technology classes to students. There can be a large amount of students that may be interested and should not have to rely on self-teaching outside of their formal education to understand it.
“There was such a demand to get in the advanced video class that you had to audition,” said O’Connor. “So there was definitely a desire for the program at my school.”
It is not to say that computer science and media arts are the number one fields to go into, but it is important they are not neglected in public school education, where they can not only provide more career options, but also equip students with additional comprehension on how technology, an application that is constantly expanding and crosses over all fields, works.