POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 21, 2010
During the past year I've written about Hiki No, a statewide, student-run news organization that will begin producing a half-hour show for PBS Hawaii in February. It will grow to six shows a week in 2011.
Composed entirely of middle and high school students from the state's public, private and charter schools, Hiki No (meaning "can do" in Hawaiian) is breaking new ground in journalism.
What isn't well known is that the network architecture was created from the ground up, right here in Hawaii by local companies who pitched in with pro bono services. Steve Komori, vice president of content delivery at PBS, said, "Hiki No was produced from scratch by Commercial Data Systems and tw telecom. This was a daunting task because no one had ever created a similar scheme for a school system."
The challenge was to connect students from schools on different islands across a wide geographic area and would allow them to work together in a seamless manner.
Here's the way it works:
The primary component is a Web-based virtual newsroom or "portal" based on Google-developed applications including Google docs and a video player. Here students can receive work assignments, share ideas and collaborate with other students around the state.
Upon receiving an assignment, student journalists armed with high-definition cameras venture out to their local communities (with teachers in tow) and shoot raw footage along with commentary from student reporters. Back in the classroom the videos are uploaded to the portal, which is accessible to the entire network of more than 50 middle and high schools.
At this point the footage can be edited by the students and prepared for broadcast. The completed files are then sent to a server at tw telecom's data center in Honolulu on Paiea Street.
The files can then be downloaded at PBS headquarters on Dole Street for final editing and preparation for broadcast.
"They key to all of this," said PBS' Komori, "was linking the schools with 10-megabyte data pipes to tw telecom. The files, which can average seven gigabytes of data or more, need lots of bandwidth -- much more than a local Internet connection at a home computer."
The network, while impressive in scope, is really only a vehicle for the students to learn and grow journalism and technology skills they'll need for the 21st century. It's a nice feeling to know that Hawaii students will have the opportunity to lead the nation in a new kind of journalism.