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Teaching Online Journalism

Teaching Twitter to students

This semester I took a course I have been teaching for 10 years and moved it to a WordPress.com blog. The students and I still meet in person once a week to discuss ideas, but otherwise, everything is on the blog.

Each student was required to start his or her own WordPress.com blog, and all their assignments are submitted as posts on their blogs.

This week’s assignment centered on Twitter, and I’m very happy with the results! My intention was to give the students an experience of using Twitter that would introduce them to new people and new sources of information and show them one of the most significant ways that Twitter is different from Facebook.

If you want to see the students’ reactions and reports about their experience, their blogs are linked in the sidebar of the course blog. Just follow the link to the assignment (above). This week only you can see a link to their Twitter posts (because of the way I set up the RSS feed) — but by Friday those links will start to be replaced by links to their next assignment.

See their posts via Yahoo! Pipes.

If you’re interested in using WordPress.com in this manner for a course, leave a comment here — I’d be happy to answer any questions!

(Note: This course happens to be for graduate students, and it’s not a skills class, so I’m not teaching them how to be journalists.)


Categories: examples, ideas, participation, teaching


2 Comments

  1. Very interesting assignment. I appreciate the way you’ve gotten your students to engage the social networking capabilities of Twitter.

    Next spring, I’ll be using my undergraduate digital media class to start a student news page using a Word Press template. I like the model you have here with the “Media Thinkers” side bar. Are there other ways I might use Twitter to feed content into the site? Or would it be better to teach students to use Twitter as a sourcing and networking tool? I’m already feeling overwhelmed by the scope of this startup effort, so just one or two thoughts or suggestions would be very helpful.

    I love your blog! You are a constant source of ideas and inspiration for media educators. Bravo, and thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Michael. It’s good to know someone finds my work useful.

    Students could be assigned to use Twitter in a live-blogging assignment, but I think one of the more useful applications of Twitter is to gather your own set of interesting sources to follow. In addition to Listorious, you can use Mr. Tweet to find people who claim to stick to particular topics:

    http://mrtweet.com/

    Take a look at Alf Hermida’s ideas about Twitter and ambient journalism:

    http://www.reportr.net/2009/09/15/foj09-talk-twitter-as-a-system-of-ambient-journalism/

    As for the sidebar, you could make a mashup of students’ twitter feeds using Yahoo Pipes:

    http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2008/07/16/how-to-create-basic-mashups-with-yahoo-pipes/

    Better yet — assign each student to create a topic-specific pipe that pulls in blogs AND Twitter!

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