Student videographers prove ed tech works

The results are in for eSchool News’  Empowered Education Awards (EEA)–and three teams of talented students and their teachers are preparing for a trip to remember. With personal tours, catered cuisine, and the chance to speak with their congressmen and senators, these award-winning teams will get a grand tour of Washington, D.C.–the place where ideas sometimes meet action.

But before these students could consider what to pack, a panel of esteemed judges had a difficult decision to make: choosing the top three video presentations out of nine finalists. With direct participation by visitors and members of eSchool News Online, the nine had been narrowed down from nearly 60 semi-finalists.

The three- to seven-minute original videos were developed by students and were based on the theme "How Technology Helps Me Learn." Students from across the United States, and even a team from Japan, sent video presentations depicting how their schools are using technology to advance learning.

The project grew out of a brainstorming session with a group of education thought leaders convened by eSchool News shortly after the U.S. Department of Education issued a report alleging technology has no salutary impact on learning. "We thought, Why not let young people speak for themselves about whether education technology is beneficial to learning?" recalled Gregg W. Downey, editor and publisher of eSchool News. The results, as documented in the winning videos, couldn’t be clearer, he said.

After careful deliberation, the judges selected these top entries from an elementary, middle, and high school:

– Ernest Hemingway Elementary School, Idaho. Led by technology teacher Scott Slonim, the team includes Tara Burchmore, Grace Gorham, and Helene Hawes.

Click the image to view Ernest
Hemingway Elementary School’s
winning video.


Technology enthusiasts Grace
Gorham and Helene Hawes take
viewers on a tour of their school
to demonstrate how technology
is used in every corner.

– Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, Vermont. Led by teacher Jay Hoffman, the team includes Neel Desai, Riya Patel, and Elizabeth Lee.

Click the image to view the
winning video of Frederick H.
Tuttle Middle School.


Reporters at SBNN time travel back
to 1983 to show how technology has
improved life for students in 2008.

– Wyandanch High School, New York. Led by digital technology teacher Bruce Penn, the winning student is Lena Cooley.

Click the image to watch 

Wyandanch High School‘s

award-winning video.


Digital technologies are
highlighted in this video report
by Lena Cooley of Wyandanch
High School in Wyandanch, N.Y.

Students at Ernest Hemingway Elementary said they were thrilled to win.

"It feels great, because we worked so hard on this video and sacrificed our recesses. We learned how to use transitions, and the transitions made the video look really cool. … So did shooting at different angles," said Burchmore.

"Also," said Gorham, "second graders aren’t the easiest people to direct. Even my little sister wouldn’t follow the directions! Tara kept telling them to ‘be happy.’"

The girls even put in a few hours every day after school to make sure the video was ready. "It was amazing to watch how much the girls have grown during the last year in video making," said Slonim.

For the judges, the Hemingway students’ enthusiasm for learning is what made them a cut above the rest.

Their video "captures the excitement that students have about learning with a variety of technologies across many different contexts and subject areas," said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, "and in many ways that excitement is less about the actual technologies and more about the ability to direct their own learning.  …  This video will help us all better understand that even our youngest students are savvy about the power of technology for their own learning and can articulate the benefits with the same sophistication as their older peers."

For students at Tuttle, competing in a digital arena with a subject they loved was a great opportunity to showcase their talents.

"I have always loved technology my whole life," said Desai. "I always chose the class that involved technology."

Cooley, from Wyandanch, was happy she had the chance to display her passion for video-making.

Her inspiration began as a "class project where I realized that technology has really helped me do well in school. My digital technology class inspired me. I am very elated, because making it to the top three makes me feel that other groups and organizations respect our work."

Here are the leaders who served as judges for eSN‘s Empowered Education Awards:

– Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow;

– Ann Flynn, director of the National School Boards Association’s Technology Leadership Network;

– Tracy Gray, managing director of the National Center for Technology Innovation at the American Institutes for Research;

– Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking;
– Tom Lapping, CEO of JDL Horizons;

– Jane McDonald, education consultant and former faculty member at George Mason University’s School of Education;

– Dennis Pierce, managing editor of eSchool News;

– Helen Soule, former chief executive of Cable in the Classroom; and

– Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

After arriving in D.C. Sept. 21, the winning teams will climb aboard an amphibious vehicle known as the "D.C. Duck" for a next-day tour of national monuments and short cruise along the Potomac River. The tour will be followed by a video-mentoring session presented by the Digital Arts Alliance, an organization led by the awards’ sponsor, Pearson Education. Students will be given a unique opportunity to learn new skills by working with video pros on their winning entries to make them even more sophisticated.

On Sept. 23, the students will meet with their U.S senators and representatives to show the lawmakers how important technology is to their education. Each lawmaker will be presented with a DVD containing the students’ video essays.

Later in the day, the students and their teachers will be honored in an awards ceremony will at the Mayflower Hotel, a Washington landmark.

"I would love the chance to talk with leaders who will listen to my ideas on how to integrate technology, given our current restraints in public schools," said Hoffman. "I want to share ideas with those who can help change the way we deliver technology education today."


eSN Empowered Education Awards




Reporters at SBNN time travel

back to 1983 to show how technology

has improved life for students in 2008.



Click the image to watch 

Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School‘s

award-winning video.



Technology enthusiasts Grace

Gorham and Tara Burchmore take

viewers on a tour of their school

to demonstrate how technology

is used in every corner.



Click the image to watch 

Ernest Hemingway Elementary’s

award-winning video.