Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

teacher at computer
Daniels lectures the TV-II class on Zoom. Photos: Ray Price/NNPS-TV

To people in the photography or television industry, "zoom" used to mean a long lens or a tighter shot, but it means something different for most folks nowadays. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing, so many people have turned to the video-chat platform as a substitute for in-person meetings.

Zoom is now the most popular way to interact with coworkers, family, or students. It has been embraced by teachers in NNPS, and that includes Telecom Instructor Carl Daniels, Jr.

"Zoom works best because it is simple to use and it is easy for the students to use as well," he said.

Daniels, who had used Zoom previously for meetings, uses it to give the students their TV Production lectures. He meets with classes twice a day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The TV-I students have "class" in the morning and the TV-II students meet in the afternoon, same as usual.

Besides lectures and projects, Daniels gives demonstrations "so that the students can gain an understanding of the fundamentals of production."

 The students are still assigned video projects, too, which they can work on on Wednesdays. Students can check out a camera at Telecom, use their own camera, or use their cell phone for the project.

The first-year students (high school juniors and seniors) just did a "camera certification" assignment and are currently working on their photo/video montage project. The second-year students (seniors) just completed their VSBA (Virginia School Boards Association) video project and will begin working on PSA's (Public Service Announcements) next. 

During the Zoom meetings, the students receive notes, see demonstrations, or watch videos from YouTube with tutorials emphasizing what was taught in class.

The first-year class has about 15 students, who all attend at once.  The second-year class is much smaller.

As expected, Daniels indicated that the most notable difference between virtual and in-person class is that the students do not get to work with the equipment hands-on, "which is the best way for them to learn about video production."

Learning via video online is the next-best thing, and hopefully in the near future, Telecom students can return to the studio.

Zoom classroom
Daniels and some of the Telecom seniors are seen on the Zoom app.