Educator Jim Heinrich Shares How FIDM Presentations Reinforce What He Teaches in the Classroom
Residential Faculty, Multimedia Technologies Institute Director, and MTI Club Advisor Jim Heinrich is preparing students for success at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) in Avondale, Arizona. For the past six years, he’s been teaching popular courses such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe After Effects, among others, at EMCC. Prior to joining the college full-time, Heinrich taught Photoshop at EMCC in the evenings for 10 years while teaching photography, theater, show choir, and yearbook at Dysart High School in El Mirage, Arizona, for 24 years.
Heinrich’s Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro classes recently participated in a virtual Behind the Scenes: Digital Media & Digital Cinema workshop, presented by FIDM Representatives Sara Benet and Cecile Fayen. “The Photoshop students were just beginning the ‘Editing Video with Photoshop’ unit and the Premiere Pro students were finalizing their ‘Cinematic Interview’ projects,” Heinrich explained. “I scheduled those assignments so the content of the workshop would be relevant for them.” The passionate educator’s instincts were right.
Heinrich asked Cecile and Sara to pause during the workshop whenever he thought a critical point was being made so his students could do a “Think/Pair/Share” for a few seconds to reinforce what they were watching and said his students participated in mini-breakouts throughout the presentation. “As a result, the students were constantly engaged and the presenters had immediate feedback about what the students ‘got’ from the workshop,” Heinrich said of the interactive presentation that invites students to exercise their conceptual thinking skills while learning a synergistic approach to modern technologies used in the entertainment industry.
As part of Heinrich’s curriculum, students work on a Personal Documentary Project, a 2.5 to 3.5-minute film that highlights a subject they’re passionate about in a way that informs and entertains the viewer. In previous semesters, Heinrich’s students have documented everything from social issues and their pets to personal struggles and triumphs. He tasks students with coming up with five possible topics and asks why they are important, who the intended audience for the film is, and what assets they need to complete the project. Students learn key lessons about pre-production, production, post-production, and presentation, or what Heinrich calls “skill drills,” exercises that were complemented by FIDM’s workshop.
“[FIDM’s] Behind the Scenes workshop wasn't embedded in student projects or skill-drill assignments,” Heinrich said. “Rather it served as a validation of what I've been teaching all semester. You know how it is when you see and hear ‘pros’ talk about what your teacher is saying, heads nod up and down,” he explained. Heinrich said he wanted his students, who are a blend of new high school graduates and older adults, to know that FIDM puts them on the “inside track” when it comes to finding internships and jobs. Some of his students said they wanted to learn more about FIDM after the presentation.
Heinrich contributes to the EMCC community outside of the classroom as well. For the last nine months, Heinrich and fellow instructor Jeff Chabot created the Summer Filmmaking Experience. Ten students volunteered to write a script and produce a short film entitled Make a Right Turn. And this semester, he’s been designing a way for any enrolled student to be able to get trained on and check out video equipment to make projects for any class. “More students are visual learners than ever before in history,” Heinrich said. “Because I want them to become ‘doers’ rather than just ‘viewers,’ they need the training and the resources to take their run-n-gun cell phone footage up a notch, even up to the point of becoming passionate, followed, and employed in the expanding visual arts industry — I have a bunch of really cool equipment that needs to be used by more people than just my students.”