Headmaster’s Newsletter

FALL 2019 | WEEK 2
Vox Pops

Corn field
September 2, 2019

By Chris Dussault


Last year in Field Semester we had our students produce short documentaries related to our different units. It was cool. When we went on site visits, students would gather video of the various activities and work experiences that they had. They also conducted some interviews with the various professionals that we met on our site visits. It made for some very focused students on site visits and led to some excellent learning outcomes in terms of allowing our students to demonstrate their knowledge through an new and exciting medium. However, as the raw video started rolling in, it became clear that despite our best efforts to capture quality video, there was an element that was lacking— especially in the interviews: quality audio. While the modern digital video camera is great at capturing images, they often lack a powerful microphone, leading to muffled audio that is difficult to hear. This ultimately meant that most of our students’ interviews were virtually unusable for the Unit Documentary project.


So for this year’s second installment of the Field Semester Journal, we did things a little differently. Instead of capturing the events of the week in pictures and words, we had students learn how to produce a Vox Pop. Vox Pop, or vox populi, is a Latin term that literally means “voice of the people.” In the world of media-making it refers short interviews with members of the public, usually focused on a single question. Vox Pops are often heard on the radio or seen in newscasts and on late night television shows. 


We had several goals with this assignment. We wanted students to learn the basics of operating digital audio recorders, how to maximize sound quality in the field, and how to ask for and conduct interviews. We also wanted them to learn how to organize, label, and log multiple files, edit and mix audio tracks, and how to create a final product that offered a variety of perspectives. 


This was a collaborative project, with students working in groups of four. We had each group devise a question related to our three units. 


  • The Agriculture group asked “Where do you think your food comes from?”

  • The Recreation group asked “What is your favorite season?” 

  • The Natural Resource Management group asked “What would you do if you were lost in the woods?” 


Once they had their questions and equipment in order, we unleashed them on the Academy campus to gather content. Once they returned, they downloaded, labeled, and logged their files before beginning editing. For the editing portion of the assignment, we had all of our students edit their own pieces, using the content that their group had gathered together. 


We then selected one Vox Pop from each group to share with you. We hope you enjoy!



Return to SJA Field semester Journal