Multimedia classes begin…

In a show of Congolese engineering brilliance, the university generator that most of us had assumed destined for the town dump came back to life in time for the start of classes on March 1. With power, a dusty projector, a makeshift screen made from an old white sheet and eight functional, if not fast, laptops; teaching multimedia journalism here in Beni suddenly seemed …possible.

That was three weeks ago.

Yesterday, I accepted that my lofty plans for great student-produced multimedia projects would have to involve teaching more than good photojournalism, audio gathering and video. It would require teaching how to make a folder on a computer. And how to name it. I would need to explain the concept of ‘copy and paste’ and how to locate a device plugged in via USB port. I would need to cover the intricacies of using a mouse— double clicking vs. single clicking vs. clicking and dragging.

I have no idea how, in planning for my classes here, I managed to overlook the possibility that my students might not have laid hands (or at least very heavy ones) on computers before—that learning how to edit audio might not be nearly as challenging as first learning how to ‘select all.’ This is rural eastern Congo, after all. But somehow I didn’t.

But setting aside my initial expectations, I decided to begin at the beginning—teaching one class intensively from 11-5pm daily in the computer lab for the next week and a half, going over basic computer skills and moving on to audio and photo editing. The students spent two days last week gathering photos and audio for profile stories about local workers in Beni (see main page slideshow for shots of them on assignment), and I hope they will have completed their audio/ photo stories for the website by the start of their Easter vacation on March 24.

Wish me luck…


Comments are closed.