Everyone giggles and gives me the “I see what you did there” look when I tell them that the week after our school’s spring break I go to Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters National Conference (NAB).

The elbow nudges and grins are usually met with “no really I go there and work my butt off.” Which gets another round of snickers and eye rolls…. But seriously, I go to NAB to work and to learn and to be completely honest, your experience there will be 100% the opposite of mine and I still learn.

The SchoolVideoNews crew hits Vegas with a vengeance and tries to talk with all of our partners to get the latest from them while we shoot interviews, write articles, and absorb all we can.

Every year I go to NAB I am blown away by the new technologies that are on the horizon for the professionals. Last year it really set in for me that the show isn’t about me doing research for me. It’s about doing research for my students. The “new” technologies that are released this year will be “old” by the time most of our students get done with their education. These “new” items will be run of the mill in 5 to 10 years… Imagine that. A completely robotic camera in your studio… not because you won the lottery and have a philanthropist’s heart but because they are that common in the market. It wasn’t that long ago that we were still using TAPE in the classroom. Remember tape… some of you may still be using tape…. I can not imagine having to explain to today’s student the concept of shooting something, then going back to the classroom and “recording” what you shot into the computer so you can edit it. Their heads would explode. SD cards are only 20 years old. That doesn’t mean they were in used 20 years ago. The first SD card was invented in 1999. They weren’t really cost efficient until about 5 years ago. Think about what your students will be using in 20 years to produce films and videos….. The new stuff that is released this year will be long gone by that point.

The other reason I think you should go to NAB is to make some real industry contacts. As a teacher, you matter. You matter a lot. When I have met with vendors they are blown away by the stories of what we have student doing. They drink up every word because they know that we are producing their future customers. From my experience, the vendors love to hear feedback from the classroom. They want to know what we like, what we don’t like, and what it impossible to teach. That helps them to prepare products and services for the next generation.

Another reason you should go to NAB is that it is by far the most cost efficient REAL professional development you will ever receive. The biggest cost is airfare. Depending on where you are flying from that may be the only thing that is cost prohibitive. Hotel rooms are relatively inexpensive. Food is plentiful and cheap as long as you don’t hit up the Grand Buffet (but if you want, I’ll let you buy me a dinner there). Admission to the show is free. Sell that to your administration… admission to the largest video production showcase in the country is free to attend. (there are optional classes you can pay for but you don’t have to as all of the big manufacturers bring in people to give demonstrations and lectures on the products they are trying to sell).

As you look down the barrel of the spring slump and finishing strong, I highly recommend that you try to talk with your administration about getting you out to NAB if for no other reason so you can start to see the things that will be commonplace in the lives of your students as they enter the next step in their career.

TomWhiteHeadshot 175Tom White is the digital media instructor at Morgan County High School in Madison, GA. Currently teaching TV production and animation pathways, Tom's programs have received state and national honors including the 2016 NFHS Network School Broadcast Program Of The Year.

Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.