Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

START ME UP! Launching a Student-led Startup Company

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Monday, June 24, 8:00–10:00 am
Location: Posters: Level 4, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 22

Reilly Caba   Jaron Campbell   Alanis Castro Pacheco   Erick Hanson   William Westhafer  
Attendees will learn how to launch a student-led startup company out of a common, public school library. We will share the story of EP Media, our startup, that focuses on creating professional grade media for our clients. Beyond video production, students learn project management, finance, mass communication, and marketing.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: YouTube app
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Project-, problem- and challenge-based learning
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Career and technical education, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
For Educators:
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
Additional detail: Student presentation
Related exhibitors: Adobe , Best Buy Education , B&H B2B , Google, Inc. , Microsoft Corporation , Padcaster , Samsung Electronics , Swivl, Inc. , Sony Electronics, Inc. , WeVideo, Inc.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The objective of the presentation is to share how the idea to launch a video production program out of our library has bloomed into a learning experience unlike anything our students have ever experienced.

By attending this session, the participant will
- learn how to launch their own startup company or video production program (on any budget)
- learn how to establish a master/apprentice workshop model
- experience how students took control of their own learning in order to achieve something larger than themselves
- learn how to achieve learning goals through the teaching of critical thinking skills, teamwork, work ethic, and respect for others
- learn how to manage the logistics of a complex working environment

The educational challenge our school faced was common to many schools - education for the sake of passing a test or getting a grade. We shifted the focus on building a program capable of doing amazing things, namely, a student-built video production company through which students would learn the skills and content required to create and distribute professional-grade content for their peers, teachers, and community members. The goal was always to ignite the fire for learning for the sake of empowerment and freedom: that through acquired knowledge and skills one can do more of whatever they want to do. By creating amazing video content for others, students had a hand in enriching the lives of others while doing work aligned with their passions.

In order to do create special, uncommon content, our students required special, uncommon technology. Although they started with the leftover tech of a past era, community involvement led to the kind of support that made the acquisition of state-of-the-art tech feasible. Video production is very tech-intensive. Our program has grown to include five Apple computers, two state of the art cameras, and many other pieces of gear that add a sense of privilege to those students who earn the right to use them.

By establishing a real-world, competency-based model, our students must earn their access to the technology by demonstrating strong character, good behavior, proficient performance in their all their studies, and competency in their chosen areas of expertise within the ever-evolving construct of the program that the students themselves have built.

The video production program is made up of three main parts. First, instructional sessions are where students learn storytelling, the art of cinematography, how to elicit emotion in their work, established methods for importing and archiving footage, and dozens of other lessons. The second part has students in the studio, learning the skills of video production, often from students who have mastered the techniques before them. YouTube tutorials are not only heavily relied upon in studio, but students themselves create tutorials for others. The third part of the program is the field, where students learn by doing actual jobs for actual clients.

The program relies on Apple computers and Final Cut Pro X for video editing. The G Suite of Apps for Education is the backbone of the programs logistics, employing documents, spreadsheets, calendars, and file management. We have begun to expand into Windows computers utilizing the Adobe CC Suite of applications.

The evidence of success for this program is evident in the results of the student-made content, the testimony of their clients, and the hours and hours our students spend working and learning, not in order to meet a grade, but for the inherent joy of serving others through the work they love.


Our students will share with you what it meant to them to have control over their own learning in this program. They will articulate how they learned the technical skills to create their video content, but also the soft skills that were developed out of a necessity to run a team of workers in the startup company.

We will share examples of our video content, our digital infrastructure and how we leverage cloud-based technology to handle the complex logistics of operating a video production team across two buildings. Participants will see our actual projects that are in production.

Supporting research

While our school has embraced a forward-thinking and aggressive push towards blended learning inspired through Michael Horn's book "Blended", this particular program has been built from the ground up from students themselves. They have used successful YouTubers like Casey Neistat for inspiration. They have also consulted with local video production companies.

More [+]


Reilly Caba, East Pennsboro Area School District
Jaron Campbell, East Pennsboro Area School District
Alanis Castro Pacheco, East Pennsboro Area School District
Erick Hanson, East Pennsboro Area School District

Self-described as an innovator, experimenter, and a bit of a rogue educator, Erick believes that it's his primary role to inspire and empower his students to learn. By developing engaging learning experiences in his role as a media specialist, working with teachers to develop their own in his role as a technology integration coach, and consulting with fellow innovative educators, Erick's focus is on making sure that students never need to ask the question "Why do I need to learn this?" Erick is also the co-host of The Greater Educator Podcast

William Westhafer, East Pennsboro Area School District

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