Leveling the Field
Teaching was a joy that Eva Ostrum had a difficult time giving up. But when the Boston public school teacher relocated to Manhattan and found that she couldn’t live on a teacher’s salary, she decided to find a new way to help students.
Ms. Ostrum formed College Broadband Inc., an educational consulting firm that uses technology and film to support urban students in the process of choosing a college, in 2000.
While the company is still struggling, its first video, “Turusma: A Young Man’s Journey to College,” has received acclaim from several regional film festivals and will be reviewed by a number of library journals this fall. It’s meant to be shown to both guidance counselors and students, who Ms. Ostrum hopes will learn from watching the young man’s struggles.
The company set up a Web site for students that allowed them to search for colleges and universities, provided online guidance, and posted articles written by students about their experiences applying to college.
In the wake of Sept. 11, however, funding dried up, and Ms. Ostrum was forced to take the Web site down.
The company then began producing educational videos that focus on students’ experiences in trying to get into college and for use in the company’s after-school training programs, which help teachers polish classroom content.
Although she taught for seven years, Ms. Ostrum first served as a college-admissions officer. The post gave her a firsthand look at the obstacles facing many college applicants, especially urban students.
“It’s such an unlevel playing field,” she said, noting that a lot of incoming students show difficulty applying math and writing skills.
Technology and film, she thought, would provide a means for counselors and teachers to reach more students and provoke discussions about college.
“I was really intrigued by the idea of using technology and film to spread good pedagogy,” she said.
—Marianne D. Hurst
A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2002 edition of Education Week