New Semester: Working harder and smarter, and some old mistakes revisited

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Our second-ever iTunes U journalism classroom launched Jan. 8 (bumped a day by winter weather), and as much is different as has stayed the same.

We have just 18 in our happy little cohort this semester, and we have moved our Comm 2221 newsroom down one floor to Journalism 106, different and entertaining on two fronts: It has no computers and the tables move.

The no computers works out better, I believe, for it’s pretty much iPad or bust. And I love the moving tables, since we make one big table at which we all work together. Next week we make real newsroom pods!

We tried to work smarter this semester and learn from our mistakes. That meant starting our actual journalism education a week behind conventional classes and devoting the entire first week to iPad and iTunes U education. We fiddled with the iPad, opened and played with apps. We set up, shifted around and basically learned to make our iPad and apps walk and talk and sing.

I let the students take their iPads for the weekend without requiring an assignment, just so they could get to know each other better–and it seemed to work much better. Students were ready to rock and roll when the next week launched.

The flipped classroom once again gave us a head start–but in ways I could barely imagine. We lost not one but two days to cold weather, but we didn’t miss a beat, as students watched lectures, studied links and files, and were ready o write every class we had in session.

While Karlie set a record last semester by reporting a story and having it published in The Lantern in three weeks, that was broken this semester in week two by Jeremy, who earned a round of applause by all. In week three it was Maria . who graced The Lantern pages. More are surely to come.

Now, we have also made mistakes–most notably not ensuring the iPads had all the programs they needed before we launched. The most important: Pages. Without it, we have had to Rube Goldberg our way to submissions.

But everyone has been on time and excelling.

Of the 18 articles received–all by deadline–we had a high of 10 and a low of 6.5, working out to an average of 8.5. Last semester the first article was a 7.8 average, although that was, admittedly, for a sample of 29.

Our exercise in headline writing Friday was so inspiring–with their creativity and clever minds.

Next week we start on article No. 2 and the deadline gets tighter. I still have high hopes that their best work is yet to come.


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