Last week, some of our intrepid education team took a NewTek TriCaster over to Netherfield Primary School, a fantastic school here in Nottingham who we met through the e7 Project, and whose head teacher was just named teacher of the year at the Pride of Britain awards. Their year five and six students have been studying Roald Dahl stories this term, and wanted a fun, engaging way to encourage students to read aloud. Enter TriCaster.
What was the setup?
TriCaster is a live production solution that lets you take content from cameras, computer screens and other devices, then combine them to create a single feed that you can record, stream to the web, or share on your school’s digital signage. However, it also has a really powerful greenscreen feature, which means you can stand students against a plain backdrop, then add a virtual environment behind them – either an environment that you’ve built yourself, or one of NewTek’s pre-made virtual TV studios. We thought this was exactly what Netherfield needed.
Our designer, Simon, whipped up some backdrops based on popular Roald Dahl stories like James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr Fox. We then set up a pop-up greenscreen and a single light, camera and monitor, which would allow pupils to see a live feed of themselves against the backdrop as they read. We loaded the backdrops into TriCaster beforehand, so once the lesson started all we had to do was plug in and we were ready to go!
How did the lesson go?
e7 consultant Rob Williams and Apple Distinguished Educator Paul Ford were on hand to help everyone get up to speed, but Netherfield’s tech-savvy staff took to the simple set-up in no time – by the end of the lesson students were acting as sound engineers, and as prompters for less able peers. The exercise was supposed to be an engaging distraction that helped less confident readers and public speakers get over their nerves by introducing something that was novel, fun and engaging as an ICT exercise as well as a literacy one.
Staff were particularly impressed that readers were able to see themselves in the virtual environments in realtime, as the excitement of being in a broadcast encouraged them to keep trying when they struggled with the text, or to attempt more animated readings if they were already confident. “The pupils were like proper TV stars,” says Rob. “They were confident and brilliant.”
Keeping things simple for staff
TriCaster does all the work in this setup – all that staff need to do is select the background they want and press record. This meant that the staff were free to help students practise their parts before they went in front of the cameras, and to encourage the less confident from the sidelines. And now that they’re comfortable with TriCaster, they’ll be able to use it in drama lessons, to create news reports or commercials, or even to start their own student voice programme.
To find out more about how TriCaster could help in your classroom, give our team a call on 03332 409 333 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and ICT inspiration, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.