Digital Skills Academy makes ORT students stand out from the crowd

They came thousands of kilometres to Bulgaria to learn the latest in photography and audio and visual production but the 27 students on World ORT’s Digital Skills Academy have returned home with much more.

Yes, they expanded their technical and artistic abilities but the 12-day experience at the Lauder-ORT #134 “Dimcho Debelianov” Jewish School in Sofia also gave them the invaluable opportunity to work on projects as part of an international team.

“By the time these students start working it’s likely that the workplace will have changed radically and they’ll have colleagues spread all over the world,” said the Head of World ORT’s Education Department, Daniel Tysman. He added:

In a workplace that will be much more automated, having good communication and collaborative skills will help them stand out from the crowd.”

Indeed, Dana Danshin, a student at World ORT Kadima Mada-affiliated Makif Alef High School in Be’er Sheva, said that teamwork had been the biggest lesson for her at the Academy. 

Dana Danshin now feels confident to work in a team.

“I’ve learned how to work with editing programmes, how to work the equipment, how to manage my schedule and to work to deadlines under pressure. But above all I’ve learned how to work with other people. Before this, I didn’t know how to work in a team but now I know I can,” she said.

Yoan Slavkov, a student at the Lauder-ORT school, added: “I’ve learned how to work with people from different cultures. My communication skills, including my English language skills, have developed a lot. In fact, this summer school has changed my whole world view; I realise now that it doesn’t matter where you’re from.”

Dana, Yoan and the 25 other teenagers from across Europe and Israel chose one of three tracks – Advanced Digital Photograph, Digital Video Production, and Digital Audio Production – and enjoyed 12 days of workshops, lectures, tours and practical experience.

A well-oiled machine

Now in its third year it’s a well-oiled machine, says Co-ordinator Plamen Petrov. And the school’s unique media centre – installed by World ORT in 2010 – has been kept up to date with technological advances ensuring students were able to put into practice what they had learned.

“We’ve improved the curriculum this year by increasing contacts with professionals both in workshops and on site visits,” he said. “New components included instruction in the composition of digital music for our audio students and the use of drones in photography.”

The visits included the UFO Film and Television Centre and Bulgaria TV where top rating anchor Anton Hekimyan showed them their most advanced studio featuring augmented reality

Students got a taste of real life media work.

“We wanted students to see and to feel the real working environment and to open their horizons. We wanted them to see things in action to help them decide if they want to pursue these kinds of careers and to inspire them,” Mr Petrov said.

But the guest presenters and people on site were not the only media professionals the students had access to. In addition to being excellent educators, the Academy’s teachers are also “in the business” – Digital Video Production tutor Ivailo Ivanov is also a freelance video producer, Digital Audio Production tutor Petko Kralev also works in radio, and Digital Photography tutor Petar Todorinski is a photographer.

And in a sign of how effective World ORT’s summer schools are, Constantin Zlatkov, a graduate of the music technology and production summer school held in London two years ago, returned from England where he’s studying music production to take on the role as Mr Kralev’s assistant.

World ORT Chief Program Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy paid tribute to ORT Bulgaria on yet another successful Academy.

“Plamen and [ORT Bulgaria President Dr] Emil [Kalo] have made a great contribution to World ORT’s global networking. They have produced such an impressive model that, if we can raise sufficient funds, we will replicate it in Argentina for our students from across Latin America,” Mr Dribinskiy said.

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