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Okaloosa County students soon will have another tool to help them learn.
For the last month or so, students at four schools have been testing a new program similar to YouTube that lets them share video and audio projects with other students at their school or elsewhere in the county.
“We want that alternate assessment, that alternate opportunity for students to present their knowledge,” said Dolores Noechel, the instructional technology specialist for the school district.
The program, called Digital Content, was selected after a year of searching. It also is used in Santa Rosa County.
The program will allow students to make videos for class projects and record and share classroom lectures or how-to videos. Every video must receive a teacher’s approval before it will appear on the site, and only students and district staff will have access to the content.
“It’s definitely something that people are into these days,” said Fort Walton Beach High School senior Sean Lopez.
Lopez was among the group of Fort Walton Beach students to test the program by making an antibullying video for a contest Noechel sponsored to kick off testing of Digital Content.
Lopez and his group won the contest with their short video that demonstrated how a rumor sent via a cell phone text message could harm the emotional well-being of a person.
“As cheesy as it sounds, just doing that video is making me think before I say something,” said senior and group participant Kristen Alicea.
The anti-bullying video was done as part of a theater class assignment. Even though the students had a few problems to work through, theater teacher Christa Whittaker said the program has real potential.
“I think once it gets up and running it’s going to be great,” she said.
Whittaker said the program allows students not only to demonstrate visually what they have learned, but promotes a level of emotional involvement that improves information retention.
As they get more familiar with the program, it will probably be used to help students who miss a critical day in class or a rehearsal. For example, Whittaker said she plans to record dance rehearsals for next year’s musical and post them on the site so students who miss rehearsal can watch it at home and practice. “I think it makes learning easier because it’s just more fun,” Lopez said. The program was paid for by a grant and technology funds freed up after Noechel decided to not renew a technology resource that wasn’t being used frequently enough. It should be available to the rest of the schools in the county by next month.