Maps, mashups and multimedia: online journalism students tackle interactivity

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

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:

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…

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One thought on “Maps, mashups and multimedia: online journalism students tackle interactivity

  1. Pingback: BCU’s ‘Trinity Mirror Student Journalist of the Year 2008′ - Azeem Ahmad | Online Journalism Blog

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