Teaching, Tools

Interactive Group Brainstorm: What is Multimedia Journalism?

What is multimedia journalism? That’s the question I planned to ask my class (WRI 430) to begin the semester. To have a “multimedia” discussion, I wanted them to be able to interact directly on screen. I needed something that would run in a Web browser because campus IT policy doesn’t allow us to install software in the lab.

I did some initial searching for free online mind-mapping tools, but didn’t have time to dig through all the options. I needed to bounce it off someone, so I asked for help on Twitter:

Recommendations for free web-based brainstorm/mindmapping service supporting multiple users simultaneously?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

(Tweet embedded using Blackbird Pie.)

I got a response from a contact I met at a Twitter meetup in Tijuana: @darleneluquin. He recommended MindMeister. We hopped on Gmail chat to coordinate a quick test to see how the real-time collaboration played out on screen. Sure enough, it worked like a charm, identifying each update by author as it was happening. (Thanks again, Jose!)

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Multimedia, Teaching

Multimedia Skills Assessment Survey

In developing the syllabus for the Multimedia Journalism course at PLNU (WRI 430), I tried to keep students’ future employment in mind. What skills are journalists missing when they enter the marketplace? What are employers looking for? What projects can I assign that will help them get hired?

I decided to focus our time on these areas:

  • Optimized news writing for online audience
  • Storytelling across all types of media
  • Maximizing the strengths of each medium
  • Innovation in story approach
  • Strong online presence
  • Fluency in social media
  • Live field reporting for Web

On the first day of class, I surveyed students on their abilities with multimedia. I asked about areas we probably won’t cover (I want to do HTML5 instead of Flash as much as possible), but the results were enlightening. I’ve already adjusted the course schedule; they’re more advanced than I anticipated.

The survey’s emphasis on technology shouldn’t imply we’ll only work on building tech skills. I plan to focus our time in class on big picture concepts, optimizing story through the technology. But in order to tell stories powerfully online, the technical elements need to become second nature.

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