The pandemic has brought what we have all known for a long time to the fore; that we are moving towards a digital-first society. If young people are to actively and successfully participate within it, equipping them with dynamic digital skills is key.
Over the past 12 months, the shift to remote learning has meant young people’s exposure to and understanding of online working has increased; so, too, has their awareness of current affairs as the pandemic has touched almost every corner of their lives, from learning and socialising to health and mental wellbeing.
The Edit, a digital storytelling programme launched by Adobe and Sky, sets out to channel these skills that young people have honed during the pandemic and allow them to find their own creative voice, by inviting them to write, edit, produce and broadcast the news using professional training and tools. In line with the changing nature of our society and the rapid increase in the reliance of technology, The Edit will provide a platform to build the essential digital skills that the future of our economy relies upon.
With the programme focusing on low-income areas to help break down barriers and make the media industry more inclusive, entrants will have access to exclusive Sky professional footage and Adobe’s creative video-editing applications. The Edit’s free training programme will guide students from script to screen, helping to unlock new skills for the next generation to allow more young people to reach their potential, whatever their background.
A recent report by Press Gazette suggests that UK newsrooms are still significantly problematic when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and this initiative aims to help break down digital exclusion and empower a diverse set of voices.
Digital storytelling teaches students valuable skills
The challenge will involve young people creating a short news report to raise awareness of climate change; tasking them with getting under the skin of this important issue, the conventions of a news report and creative storytelling.
After which, access to Sky’s footage and advice from industry professionals will spark their imagination and enable them to tell their story of the planet’s environmental crisis and drive change.
For Sky, The Edit is building on the success of its Sky Academy Studios, which, for over a decade, has given thousands of young people across the UK an experience of building their own TV content by using professional technology.
“We believe that every child, in every community, should have access to digital programmes,” says Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s executive vice-president and CEO for the UK and Europe.
“The Edit will inspire thousands of young people to consider a career in media, to experience what it’s like to write, edit, produce, and broadcast the news.”
The next crucial step in The Edit will be Adobe guiding students through two of its industry-leading video-creation applications – Adobe Spark, free to all schools and Adobe Premiere Rush – which it has made free to participating schools. These creative applications will offer a range of templates, fonts, music, tracks and photos, as well as audio and motion graphics. These are sure to spark students’ creative expression and allow them to easily create, edit and share their visual stories with each other.
Adobe Education evangelist Dominic Traynor agrees and says his experience of the creative applications in a classroom setting has been transformational. “During my time as a teacher, using free creative applications like Adobe Spark in the classroom completely transformed how I taught," he says.
“For me, being able to combine traditional learning with digital media applications helped bring learning to life for the young people I taught. The fact that digital applications such as Adobe Spark are free for all schools makes it a no-brainer for education institutions and teachers looking to bring an extra dimension to teaching and learning.”
And it’s not just technical skills that the initiative will sharpen; digital storytelling will enhance young people’s communication, critical thinking and collaborative skills – all of which are highly prized by universities and employers.
Also, working with the same applications and footage that professionals use every day is sure to boost students’ confidence inside and outside of the classroom. Indeed, the programme will culminate in a nationwide competition in which primary and secondary school students will submit climate change-themed television news reports with the winners announced on Sky News’ FYI – a weekly news show on TV entirely presented by young people targeting young people.
Yet for students to truly thrive in this digital programme, teacher support and encouragement is needed. To assist with this, The Edit has a specially designed CPD programme for educators to help them to deliver video editing and production with confidence. Curriculum-ready teaching resources and lesson plans for primary and secondary schools are also provided, covering in-person and remote learning. It therefore becomes a unique opportunity for teachers to develop and hone their own digital literacy skills alongside their students.
Bringing news and journalism into the classroom
Lauran Hampshire-Dell, an English teacher in a secondary school in London, says this is exactly the kind of project educators need right now. “The Edit is an amazing opportunity to bring news and journalism into the classroom in a relevant, student-led, dynamic way," she says.
“With the pre-made resources and opportunity for CPD, Adobe and Sky have really thought about how they can support teachers to deliver the programme, and the target demographic of students means that The Edit programme is offering students opportunities to develop their digital literacy and explore the processes of producing a news story (experiences they may not have otherwise) and do all of it whilst having fun. It’s exactly the kind of project that would reignite the classroom this year.”
What makes The Edit inspirational is that it’s a larger investment in learning. Its creative process is designed so that teachers and students are motivated to upskill – an essential quality in our rapidly changing employment landscape.
While a single digital programme like The Edit cannot single-handedly transform the challenges the sector is currently facing, it could make strides in supporting young people to thrive through digital skills, and give students a taste of "real-world" opportunities in digital media that will help them explore the new and exciting career paths that await them.