Last month the first submissions by students on the MA in Online Journalism landed on my desk. I had set two assignments. The first was a standard portfolio of online journalism work as part of an ongoing, live news project. But the second was explicitly branded ‘Experimental Portfolio‘ – you can see the brief here. I wanted students to have a space to fail. I had no idea how brave they would be, or how successful. The results, thankfully, surpassed any expectations I had. They included:
- Dan Davies did a number of experiments around covering cycling collisions in Birmingham that involved mapping, RSS feeds, FOI requests, data, Help Me Investigate, and eventually an idea for a game of sorts.
- Alex Gamela constructed the Hashbrum website, experimenting with mapping plugins and other content management technologies. His series of posts on hyperlocal publishing provide an excellent insight into his processes.
- Caroline Beavon experimented with Google Wave.
- Natalie Chillington experimented with a self-updating gig map. Although she didn’t succeed in achieving what she’d set out to do, the knowledge of web tools and technologies such as KML.
- Ruihua Yao experimented with recruiting members of the Chinese community in Birmingham to contribute to a Chinese community blog.
- Andy Brightwell looked into the ways linked data can be used to uncover political relationships in local councils. There’s a good reason why there’s no blog post to link to, but I’m not telling you what it is…
- Ioana Epure (studying MA Freelancing and Journalism Enterprise, which has some overlap with Online Journalism) looked at music communities and different ways of producing music journalism.
- And Chiara Bolognini launched the map-based social network Blomap.
- Mikel Plana was exploring lifestreaming, but was offered a job before the deadline (congratulations Mikel).
There are a range of things that I found positive about the results. Firstly, the sheer variety – students seemed to either instinctively or explicitly choose areas distinct from each other. The resulting reservoir of knowledge and experience, then, has huge promise for moving into the second and final parts of the MA, providing a foundation to learn from each other. Continue reading