As a new semester begins it seems a good time to finally post about how my second year journalism degree students approached the ‘interactive’ element of their portfolio way back in May (yes, everything they do is interactive, but bear with me).
For the first time I gave them an open brief in terms of what they did interactively (in previous years I asked them to produce Flash interactives). Having been taught how to create everything from audio slideshows and image maps to multimedia interactives, Google Maps and Yahoo! Pipes mashups, I was curious to see what they would pick. Would they all plump for the same option?
Apparently not. In fact, the results are the most diverse and downright fascinating I’ve ever seen from an online journalism class.
Here’s what they did:
- Kasper Sorensen created a map of water issues stories in Europe
- Ashley Snape created a map of Environmental Activity in Australasia
- Natalie Chillington created a photo slideshow of the top ten endangered animals
- Alice Fanning not only created a map of UK environmental protests but also a Yahoo! Pipe mashup of eco news.
- Emma Foster created an audio slideshow – ‘Tescopoly’ – and a map of eco-businesses in the UK
- Hayley Smith created a Yahoo! Pipes mashup of environmental technology news, alerts and photos
- Kat Higgs created an audio slideshow about mistreatment of animals
- Stephanie Grant created an audio slideshow to mark African Liberation Day
- Stephen Nunes set up a YouTube channel and posted 3 mini-videos looking at how environmentally friendly his accommodation was; he also included links to full audio on many of his stories for the website
- Tuuli Platner stole the show with her YouTube video song promoting the site and her reporter blog. Journalists are becoming brands, and Tuuli has understood that brilliantly.
In addition the class submitted stories from their blogs and from the Environmental News Online website; their Twitter tweets and their bookmarks; their rss reader subscriptions and their comments on other blogs.
You could say I’m quite demanding like that.
What was interesting to see was students commenting on each others’ blogs about what they were planning to do – particularly useful when students were reporting on areas that crossed disciplines and other correspondents could see additional leads or angles.
In other words, the blogs became a team management and communication tool, as well as a publishing one.
Many students tried a number of things – a Pipes mashup; an audio slideshow – before settling on what they eventually submitted. They bookmarked, they twittered, and they blogged. They linked. They commented – one noted how her blog hits spiked after she posted a comment on another blog.
I was pretty pleased, all in. The vast scope of possibilities in online journalism is impossible to teach in ten weeks, so I tried to focus on broader issues: experimentation; possibilities. That gave them scope to latch onto what stimulated them, or what the story suited. I only hope they take it further as they begin their final year…