Thursday, May 8, 2008

How to Incorporate New Media in Feature Writing

Yesterday was my last day of classes, and we spent part of feature writing talking about how multimedia techniques -- blogging, photos, audio slideshows, brief video interviews -- should be incorporated into this particular class in the future.

As is my wont, I left it all pretty loose this semester, mandating blogging, photos, slideshow and video but not linking these activities to particular assignments. When you feel like it, you know? The level of compliance has varied, some students doing a lot and some students doing a little. No one will suffer for having only done a little.

When asked for their opinion (that most daring of pedagogical novelties), the students gave me some. Though sometimes one can over interpret nods, winces and general body language, I'm thinking several students agreed with Matt when he said I should waste *no* class time on having the students do multimedia. It diverts from what the class is about: writing.

Also, as someone else said, my expertise is in writing, not in multimedia, and my stumbling efforts at that kind of "making" are a waste of time in that way, too.

Other students -- though I think not a majority -- indicated they liked having the multimedia required, although they said I should have the requirements much more structured: for the immigrant story we take a picture; for the travel story we do a slideshow; for the final profile we do a two-minute interview on video. Tighten up the checklist, in other words.

Other suggestions: introduce multimedia elements into the Intro to Media Studies course, supplementing the theory part; have a multimedia course at the sophomore level that everyone in the major could take and journalism minors must take; make every Media Studies major create a blog in the first MS class he or she takes, the expectation being that every class will require posting.

One student -- was it you, Cameron? -- said he felt the content of 19 out of 20 blogs was self-indulgent bullshit, and my requiring that the class blog simply piled it all higher and deeper. But he (or someone) allowed that it would be legitimate for me to require not "fresh" posts but comments on existing posts. That would be purposeful.

And thus we arrive at our last assignment (albeit a new assignment) for this class. Students! Start your engines. Comment on this post. Add. Subtract. Amend.