5 reasons why radio and education work so well together
Schools on Air is SYN Media’s live to air school radio program. It gives students the opportunity to broadcast live across Melbourne (On 90.7FM and Digital Radio) and across the world (At syn.org.au) as part of their classwork. Thousands of students contribute to the program producing over 600+ hours of broadcast content each year.
I’ve been working on the program since 2011 as SYN’s Education and Training Manager and it never ceases to amaze me the impact that the program has on students. Here are some of the reasons why I think radio and education work so well together.
1. It’s real.
Being live on the radio is a real experience. It’s not a simulated or pretend scenario – it’s the real deal. We place a lot of faith in students when we give them access to the airwaves and they return that faith with interesting and diverse content about their lives, their interests and their perspectives on the world and the community around them. The “realness” of the experience just can’t seem to be replicated by other means such as podcast or closed streaming.
2. It exercises different learning styles.
Producing radio enables and empowers students to articulate themselves in new ways. For students with low or developing literacy skills the conversational nature of radio allows them to build their skills and participate meaningfully without feeling restricted by their level of literacy. We have worked with everything from elite student programs to disengaged and at risk youth and radio consistently manages to engage students from a wide range of learning styles and backgrounds.
3. It encourages teamwork, collaboration and interpersonal skills.
Producing quality content takes strong teamwork and the live nature of radio gives students a clear deadline and structure to do so. The quality of their content is dependent on how well they interact and work with each other. Students need to effectively plan their music, content and delivery and can play different participatory roles in the studio such as technical operator, anchor, producer and more. Students can be matched to their strengths/weaknesses in a wide variety of roles.
4. It promotes critical thinking of the media and the media production process.
Producing content for a real audience means that students must think critically about the impact of their content. Students gain valuable insight into how the media production process can influence an audience and how the choices they make can impact how their content is received. On many occasions our in studio support staff have had long and powerful discussions with students about their use of language – in many cases causing students to question how they use language in their every day lives and the impact their words can have on others (in both a positive and negative way).
5. It’s fun (and you get bragging rights).
Radio can be a really fun way to learn. At SYN we give students a lot of freedom to choose their own music, topics and content in collaboration with their teachers and enable students to be creative with the platform. We think this freedom and creativity is really important for student enjoyment and for the authenticity of what students produce. Plus – they get to brag to friends and family that they’ve been on the radio (And often come back to volunteer with us later!)
Australia has one of the most open and accessible community radio sectors in the world – many stations across the country partner with schools for a really unique classroom experience.