Many of us in the IT industry like to think that we are solely responsible for figuring out how best to apply technology to further organizational needs. The fact of the matter, however, is that innovative technologies are implemented by a wide variety of folks in a diverse number of professions. Take, for example, local history teacher Amy Burvall and her creative partner Herb Mahelona. Billed as "historyteachers," this duo has produced some remarkable educational videos which are taking the cyberworld, not to mention the educational community, by storm.
As reported here earlier, the videos set historical lessons to popular music from as far back as the ’60s to the present day. The business world would be wise to take a few lessons from historyteachers when it comes to applying technology.
First, Burvall and Mahelona have taken advantage of a highly popular, easily accessible medium. After all, YouTube is available on every computer with an Internet connection, as well as every smart phone and tablet device on the market. Corporations across the country, tech and otherwise, dream of being able to deliver products this efficiently to their client base. There is no learning curve to overcome for the historyteachers user community, namely, teenage students.
Second, historyteachers uses widely available technologies to develop its products. There is no custom software involved.
Burvall bills Mahelona as the "tech guru," but he does not use any of the high-end production software that you might find in a Hollywood studio (although he does have his own mixing equipment). Rather, the videos are largely produced on a Macintosh computer. Mahelona is a big fan of Adobe products such as Flash, Premiere, Photoshop and After FX.
Make no mistake, though, it is obvious to anyone who has ever attempted any kind of video editing that a tremendous amount of effort goes into ensuring the quality of these clips. All of this is done with virtually no budget whatsoever. Burvall says, "We are doing all of this in our ‘spare’ time with our own money, equipment, clothing and props. But I really think the videos are appreciated by my students and now, I realize, by a lot of other people around the world as well. So that is fun and well worth it."
Finally, like many product development folks, Burvall has been motivated by outside elements. In fact, she credits the production of the videos with helping her cope with breast cancer. "Writing lyrics was cathartic, and kept my spirits up when combating insomnia and all the other horrible thoughts that go along with a cancer diagnosis. Recording was something I looked forward to the most. In the end, I think it is a good message for people who might be going through a life-changing, stressful event. Creativity and a positive outlet for my thoughts helped me persevere through my health challenges."