New Albany students learn digital media

NEW ALBANY – Some people pay thousands of dollars to get training in computer programs that allow them to build Web sites or edit photographs and videos.
High School students in the New Albany and Union County school districts can now stay at school and learn free of charge the programs used by professionals.
A new class offered at the New Albany School of Career and Technical Education will teach students how to use the programs in Adobe’s Creative Suite 3: Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash.
Next year, students will be able to take the second year of the course, which will focus on filming videos and editing them in Adobe Final Cut Pro.
New Albany is one of four places in Mississippi to offer the Digital Media Technology class. The Rankin County and Pearl districts have the class available at Hinds Community College, and the Calhoun County and McComb districts also offer it.
Because the class is taught at the New Albany School District’s School of Career and Technical Education, there are also openings for some juniors and seniors in the Union County School District.
The New Albany School District was chosen by the Mississippi Department of Education and received $165,000 from the Office of Vocational Education and Workforce Development within the MDE.
The school used that money to buy 15 MacBook Pro computers, a high definition video camera, six other video cameras, six Cannon powershot cameras, a 42-inch wide-format printer that can print posters, a SMART Board and a flat-screen television.
The class is taught six times a day by Mallorie Biffle, who said that she currently has a total of 53 students over the six periods and hopes to have even more students next year.
“School is the only place where students don’t get to use their technology,” Biffle said. “Why don’t we bring all of it into school and use it so that they can learn?”
The course teaches the digital media skills that are in demand in a variety of careers: journalism, Web design, film, video game design and advertising. The goal is for students to collect a portfolio of work.
“There are tremendous career opportunities for this,” said Earl Richard, director of the New Albany School of Career and Technical Education. “That is where the jobs are right now and it is only going to expand.”
Students have already produced a commercial, edited it in iMovie and posted in on Youtube.com. As the year progresses, they’ll edit photos in Photoshop, build flash animations and put them on a Web site they will design.
“I find it is easier to be creative in here,” said senior Helen Staten. “In other classes, you’re give a strict assignment and told here is what you have to do. Here, you’re given guidelines, and you can make whatever you want.”
To prepare for the course, Biffle had to attend a month of training in Jackson and Starkville. She also was invitied to a seminar at Apple’s Headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal