How the CLT is Helping Teach Students About NJ Lawmaking

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At the Thomas Edison State University Center for Learning and Technology (CLT), we continuously look for opportunities to collaborate with people and organizations outside our building. And once and awhile, opportunities arise that are outside our entire institution.

So when the Office of Legislative Services at the New Jersey State House needed help producing a guided tour video that could be used by schools during the long-term building renovations, we jumped at the chance to help out. However, that idea blossomed into something more. And that’s where I came in.

 

Hi, I’m Jackie Miller

I lead the media creation studio at the CLT where we produce custom course content videos, instructional videos, demonstrational videos, course promotional videos and any other course and program related media. I’m a former TV news reporter who accepted this position more than two years ago because it was a no-brainer for me. I get to bridge my experience in media and broadcasting with a sense of purpose in helping students along their educational journey. It’s really a dream job!

So taking on this project with the folks in the Office of Legislative Services was right up my alley. In fact, the entire Instructional Technology and Media Creation (ITM) team jumped at the chance to work with the leaders of the tour program. 

After meeting with David April, tour program coordinator, and Jennifer Leibert, tour program educator, our team discovered their need for more than a guided tour video. They needed an online course space to teach students about lawmaking as well as a custom introductory video to go with it. So we turned their classroom-based Make a Law! program into an online learning experience.

  

About Make a Law!

I learned so much about Make a Law! throughout this collaborative effort. It’s a fascinating program open to grades 3 through 12. During the course of the half-hour program, students assume the role of lawmakers. They learn the process of bill passage by demonstrating the skills of debate, discussion, negotiation, compromise and voting. When the State House is open, the program usually takes place in the Welcome Center classroom. But during renovations, it will be offered online with the help of TESU and the Center for Learning and Technology.

  

How Make a Law! Was Built

Following my initial meeting with David and Jennifer, I created what we call a new “shell” in Moodle, our learning management system. In other words, I created a new course page.

A course page is an online classroom. It’s where enrolled students can access all of their course work. In this case, those conducting the Make a Law! program will go to the course page in Moodle for access to program materials and enter one of our EdisonLive! classrooms. They will then invite teachers and students to join.

EdisonLive! is our open source web conferencing tool. Once inside the EdisonLive! classroom, participants can share their webcam and microphone with those conducting the program. We’ve created an interactive environment where students can see, listen and be heard.

In addition to setting up an online classroom, I was asked to help film, write and edit an introduction video for Make a Law!. This video offers background information for students on the bill being used for the program.

As I mentioned before, this project was right up my alley. That’s because, as a former TV news reporter, the video takes on a broadcast news style with interviews from parents supporting and opposing the bill as well as the legislator sponsoring the bill. Right now, the bill being used for the program is known as “Steven’s Law,” which would prohibit the use of non-wood bats in certain organized games. The goal is to play the video for students first so they understand the bill and allow them to hear arguments surrounding it. Then, they discuss and vote on the bill as part of the program.

 

Looking Forward

It has truly been a pleasure working with the tour program team at the State House. They work hard to provide visitors with the best, most educational experience and, now, they have the opportunity to expand their program and provide an educational experience for students online. And the CLT is honored to have been a part of that.

 

For more information on Make a Law!, click here. 

Topics: Taking Courses