Multimedia for High School Journalism Educators provides learning opportunity for all of us

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It was a whirlwind week at the Indiana University High School Journalism Institute for the teachers taking Multimedia for High School Journalism Educators.

Judy Robinson (center) coaches Luke Wiseman and Liz Dixon on the settings for the ditigal cameras they will be using for a photo assignment.

Each created a blog in WordPress and then added content. Writing commentary. Finding appropriate online sources and embedding links. Taking photos and optimizing them for the Web. Uploading individual photos and a slideshow to the blog. Taking screen captures. Recording an interview with a classmate, then editing it in Audacity and uploading it to SoundCloud. Creating a Soundslides presentation and embedding it in a blog entry.  Creating a blogroll and resources.

Everyone’s blog contained similar elements and sometimes the same required topic (such as Jack Dovrak’s talk to class on “High School Journalism Matters”). But every one of the eight blogs was unique and distinctive — like the eight teachers in the class.

The week was intense with group instruction on software programs and discussion of issues ranging from school policies on computer use to considerations of how to review comments made on blogs.

Jenna Gerber (standing) was always ready to help answer technology questions.

The teachers experienced the deadlines that are a regular part of their media classes. They dealt with the problems that are part of working with technology and, we hope, developed their troubleshooting skills. We were fortunate to have Jenna Gerber as our lab assistant. She helped not only during class time but in open-lab hours after class. (And she took the photos of the class members for the slideshow at the top of this post.)

The last morning of class, they each made a presentation — sharing the blog’s progress and discussing how they hoped to incorporate the technology skills they had been working on during HSJI in their teaching and advising. Some hope to have their newspaper staffs create a blog for the publication — posting photos that wouldn’t have been run in the print publication due to space limitations, encouraging letters to the editor, and posting breaking news that wouldn’t be news by the time the newspaper was published. Some hope to create a blog (or modify the blog they created in class) to use with their classes — writing about assignments so those who are absent can catch up, including helpful links and posting handouts.

As we planned for teaching the course, during the teaching that week and now after the course is over, teaching colleague Judy Robinson and I have been talking about teaching technology. What order to use in presenting concepts and teaching software. How best to use the teachers’ time — for example, matching them with a classmate for an interview rather than sending them out on assignment on campus. How to structure assignments and projects that would be do-able and helpful.

That's me leading a discussion about handling comments posted on blogs.

And now, a week after the course has ended, we’re seeing the final results — their blogs. It’s great that we all can share what everyone has done — viewing the blogs and making comments. We’re able to see how they have used the required tasks (i.e., links, their own photos, Soundslides, screen captures) to create a blog that captures their individual voices and styles.

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