Apple brings video-making into Irish primary schooling
"Apple technology is at the centre of this unique education project. “The three watch words for FÍS are simplicity, connectivity and creativity”, says Creative Director Ciarán McCormack. “Apple gets ticks in all three boxes. The hardware and the software are so intuitive that teachers and children can just get on with what the project is all about — making and using films to learn”.There is also an official FÍS website.
A pilot scheme was so successful in 31 Dublin and Cork schools that six years later, well over 100 primary schools are using film to enrich their studies. FÍS plans to support the use of film in all of Ireland’s 3,500 primary schools by the end of 2006.
Important to the project’s success has been the broad support base inspired by national Government leadership. The Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) at Dún Laoghaire — home to Ireland’s National Film School — provides project management and advice to teachers on filmmaking theory and how to integrate it into the curriculum. Ireland’s regional Education Centres train teachers to use cameras, sound recording and editing equipment at specially-run summer programmes and training days.
Technology support for FÍS comes from a combination of IADT and Education Centres’ ICT advisers. FÍS, based at IADT, has a range of Macs, including Power Mac G5s, PowerBooks and iBooks. Education Centres with local schools involved in the project each have an iMac, five iBooks and a Canon camera, all available for booking. The schools themselves are equipped with video cameras, tripods and microphones, and share digital editing suites.
No Pre–cooked Content
FÍS schools are using film in many different ways. One is making a series of documentaries about its local history, based on interviews with the school caretaker. Another has adapted a Graham Greene short story for film, with children writing the screenplay, and acting and filming their own production.
Other schools are studying the science of film technology, or exploring dance and music through film soundtracks. Many use the opportunity film presents to hone reading and writing skills.
Schools that cater for children with physical and learning disabilities have found film particularly helpful in establishing a sense of individual achievement. One special school produced a short film showing how it makes its annual Christmas card. The still shots of the children who contributed to the film were as important to its motivational impact as the film itself. Filmmaking is particularly flexible for mixed abilities. There is always a role for everyone — storyboard, continuity, camera, sound, even holding the microphone."
It's amazing to compare the use of computer technology in education now at all levels. We're of an age that green-screen monochrome machines were our primary school "computer" experience (no Macs, unluckily!), and even in third-level computers were used only for office applications, technical programs and the new-fangled WWW.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple have been blazing the trail on bringing video into mainstream computing for a decade or more now (just as they did in the Eighties with desktop publishing) and have brought such revolutions as Quicktime video, the Firewire interface and latterly the amazing Final Cut Pro professional editing suite. The tight integration of hardware and software by the same company creates a computing platform for affordable multimedia production which rivals can only play catch-up to.
It's a testament to the quality of their vision that Apple are such a serious player in film-making at all levels, and pretty much own film-making in education. To all the Apple-haters out there - we'll continue to make ours a Mac.