Grant helps establish Westminster's Digital Media and Broadcasting Center
Nearly one decade ago, Westminster’s Media Coordinator Han Kim and a team of visionaries began to discuss the idea of an audio-visual suite, a dynamic space that would eventually be incorporated into the master plan for the school’s new campus, which opened in fall 2011 in Town & Country. With the help of a $15,000 grant from the Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF), a St. Louis based charitable foundation that promotes innovative education through technology integration, Westminster’s Digital Media and Broadcasting Center was established. This three-room suite, comprised of a waiting room and small and large production studios, has taken more than a year to furnish with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. Complete with video cameras, lights, iPad-based teleprompters, monitors, and editing equipment, a professional audio-visual working environment is now available for students and staff on a daily basis.
Although a media center is not new to academia, the creation of a partnership between a teacher of a specific course and A.V. professionals brings an innovative concept and cutting-edge element to Westminster’s academics. Kim explains, "Functioning much like a production studio environment, students and teachers are able to utilize the available tools and resources – along with our guidance, knowledge, and collaboration – to create and produce a variety of media genres.” Coursework is, in turn, enhanced and teachers are supported by utilization of the space. Kim says, “The studio is designed to support and extend our curriculum, giving students an opportunity for authentic learning experiences."
Art classes regularly use the backdrops and lights for photography projects; Spanish classes will soon be creating video advertisements using the student’s Spanish-speaking skills; and Bible teachers plan to have their students practice their presentation skills using a teleprompter while in front of a microphone and video camera. Students’ learning experiences are propelled as projects are recorded, reviewed, and analyzed. Although the equipment is still in its testing phase, it is the school’s intent to offer a Broadcast Journalism class. With this class will come a regular student-led production that will give students valuable broadcasting experience and an opportunity to keep classmates updated on current events. To better prepare students for college and careers, this state-of-the-art media center exposes students to technology that will be available to them in college and the professional world.
The media and broadcasting center is already helping to foster the school’s goal to continually build community. In addition to enhancing coursework, the center is also used by the Audio-Visual Club, which serves as a supporting agency for many campus activities, including weekly chapel services and theatre productions. Furthermore, Kim envisions the opportunity to be able to live-stream campus activities such as the annual Spirit Week, class instruction, and sporting events to the St. Louis community and world. Westminster desires to impact the community and other Christian ministries by sharing this center with others; the school plans to make this technology available to groups outside of the school in the future.
Because today’s world is driven by visual communication, it is important that students approach media thoughtfully and critically. With this audiovisual suite, Westminster students can engage in the production of compelling and relevant media content. Director of Advancement Zach Clark says, “In a global society of profound, ubiquitous access to information and media, we believe it is absolutely essential that students of today and tomorrow be thought-leaders capable of shaping and producing content – not simply consumers of content.” This center is an excellent example of how Westminster is providing a world-class education, equipping students to engage and change the world for Jesus Christ.