The Business Administration, Multimedia & Graphics (BAMG) program at Northeast Technology Center’s Pryor Campus is currently undergoing a major overhaul. The program was recently awarded a $100,000 lottery grant from the Oklahoma Department of Career Tech. Instructor April Blackwell is using the funds to build and outfit a video production and photography studio in her classroom.
NTC’s nursing program has been awarded this lottery grant several times in the past, which allowed Blackwell to witness the benefits its funding provided the program. Then two years ago she visited Pontotoc Technology Center where a colleague had been awarded the grant for a video production studio.
“I was so impressed with their facility and the work her students were doing,” said Blackwell. “I knew that NTC students and Rogers and Mayes County citizens could benefit from something similar, so I jumped in with both feet and applied for the grant. I’m obviously very pleased and so appreciative that we were awarded.”
The studio will be set up to mimic a television production studio, including a control room, tri-caster equipment, a sound proof booth for voice overs, narration, and podcasts, three industry standard cameras and studio lighting. The high quality field equipment will also allow students to travel off-site for field shoots. Additionally, when not being used for video, the room will function as a photography studio. The new set-up will provide students with opportunities to learn firsthand about editing, production, live television, sound and lighting.
“Video production leads to unexpected discoveries, increased self-awareness and esteem, sharpened critical thinking, analytical skills, group work skills and ability to communicate ideas,” said Blackwell. “It demands writing and rewriting, research, group effort and clarity of thought. Incorporation of this technology exemplifies the importance of blending art and academics and aligns with NTC’s mission statement.”
Video technology is the new normal for today’s fast-paced society. Tutorials on YouTube, product endorsements, training and internet searches all lead to video. In an age of immediate, visual learning, students must be prepared to enter the workforce ready to use their skills and knowledge of video production tools efficiently and effectively.
“Working through textbook simulations, with perfectly shot video and step-by-step instructions, may teach the basics of editing, but the real test is when the subject matter is live, or not under such controlled conditions,” said Blackwell. “Troubleshooting equipment in the field, communicating with the client and team members, adjusting the shot to accommodate space or lighting challenges, working with time constraints, and understanding the project is not just for a grade, but for an end product for your client are all things only hands-on opportunities can provide.”
Emerging employment trends suggest individuals seeking jobs in creative fields need experience in multiple areas, including photography, illustration, page layout and video, as well as have good time management and communication skills, to be marketable in the current workforce.
“NTC’s Pryor Campus is approximately 40 miles from the nearest production studio,” said Blackwell. “That makes it difficult for students, small business, and industry partners to access video services and coverage. It’s important that we not just try to keep up with technology, but also look ahead and advance. We are confident that adding this studio will fill a big need in our area.”
The new studio equipment will be available to instructors and students from other NTC programs for recording lectures and demonstrations to make them available online and using the GoPro camera for various training simulations to give the student a visual of what they are doing and how they need to improve. Of course the biggest benefit will be to video production students who will have an improved opportunity to develop a project from inception to completion.
“The past two years have been amazing to watch my students’ video skills grow,” said Blackwell. “Two years ago we placed fourth at BPA State with a video promotion of the national school lunch program. This past year we placed first at State and second at Nationals for an awareness video on underage drinking. With the advancements in our equipment and capabilities, I believe we can win first at Nationals this year.”
Additionally, NTC’s facility will be available for rental by its industry partners, sending schools and members of the community. NTC’s Business & Industry Services Business Development clients will be able to utilize the studio to promote their small businesses. Companies can enlist the help of video students to promote their businesses while providing the students real-work work opportunities.
“The new equipment and studio will enhance our ability to prepare students to enter the workforce with advanced skills,” said Blackwell. “We believe it will also increase enrollment, allow for partnering with other programs, and encourage networking with business and industry. At the present time, there are no other educational institutions within our area offering video at this level.”
The classroom is currently in the construction phase. NTC expects Media Support Group to install equipment in September, at which time it will be ready for student use.