HPHS Students Navigate Modern Media in New MAPS Course

Students in Brandon Jackson’s modern media course at HPHS are learning to navigate today’s world of news and information and are finding their own voices along the way.

The juniors and seniors in the course, which is part of the school’s Moody Advanced Professional Studies program, were featured on CBS News earlier this year as they untangled false social media about the Israel-Hamas war.

They’ve also experimented with expressing their opinions through a variety of media outlets. The students have written op-eds, created radio commercials, and most recently took on podcasts on topics including sports, social media, fashion, and entertainment.

“There are consequences to what you say, there are consequences to what can kind of information you take in,” Jackson said. “You can be a voice of change, a voice of positivity.”

HPHS senior Julian Raynal was part of a group of students who tackled the Stanley Cup craze in their podcast.

“It’s just a cup at the end of the day. It’s the same as a Yeti or a Hydro Flask,” he said, explaining that the podcast explored the psychology of new trends and the pros and cons of social media.

Junior Grace Heiss, who wants to learn more about sports management, interviewed a HPHS basketball player, as well as talked about the Super Bowl and NBA with her co-host. Heiss’ classmate Maddy Miller, a senior, produced a podcast about entertainment and pop culture.

“There was a big learning aspect to it, learning how to work all the equipment, and also just learning how to conversate back and forth with the co-host,” Miller said. “That was really cool to do.”

Jackson, who has a background in radio, emphasized the value of preproduction for students and limited their opportunities to edit the final products.

“There’s an element that you can’t replicate (of live performance),” Jackson explained. “The quality would be better the other way, but I also feel like the experience is important … that rush of knowing you have to do it right.”

This is the modern media course’s inaugural year at the high school. This year’s podcasts were a learning experience and will only be publicly available if students decide to post them. In the future, Jackson said, he may make the podcasts more widely accessible.

Raynal said that the class has helped him understand how to use social media to express his own views, as well as to evaluate the perspectives of others even when he may not agree with them.

“None of us really got instructed on how to use social media, we kind of just started using it,” he said. “I think it’s important to understand how you can use it to your advantage and also how other people are using it.”

Next, students will likely experiment with video by making their own public service announcements, Jackson said. He said he hopes students discover new skills and passions through their exposure to different forms of media.

“Years ago, you had to have a degree and a bunch of equipment to be able to do this kind of stuff,” he said. “Now if you’ve got a laptop you can broadcast to the world. Take that responsibility serious and make sure that you have best interests in mind when you’re doing that.”

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