Start your beginning journalism class by measuring students’ connectivity

As you welcome a new set of students this semester, hopefully you’ll be met by an excited room of media consumers and future journalists. More likely, though, you’ll be met with just as many sets of wide eyes and panicked freshmen. Learning about your students’ existing technology patterns and comfort level with social media can be a huge help as you begin.

To get beginning-level students thinking about their personal levels of connectivity, consider using this quick quiz from the Pew Research Center, which is interactive and free. Try this in class, if you have a lab with Internet access, or as a homework assignment during the first week of school.

How to use the “What Kind of Tech User Are You?” activity in your journalism classroom:

1. Consider showing a brief video clip like “Did You Know?” to catch kids’ interest or ask them to identify ways teens use technology in the way they send and receive information.

2. Provide the link to “What Kind of Tech User Are You?”

3. After the quiz, participants learn which typology group they fall into. To reflect on the result, try this:
• Based on the quiz results, what kind of tech user are you?
• Does this match or contradict what you expected? Why?
• Select one of the other typology groups from the pull-down list. Compare and contrast this group to your own.
• How does this result match with what you expect to learn and do in journalism class this year? Do you think your technology experience will help you, or do you think this will be a big area of learning and growth for you as part of the journalism class experience?
• How confident do you feel heading into journalism class in regard to technology use and online forms of journalism?
• What questions do you have so far?

4. If you’re doing a follow-up discussion in class (always a good idea, of course!) it would be fun to chart some of the data and make a class infographic so students could see their similarities and differences. If you do a quick count on some of the key questions and drop the answers into a spreadsheet, you can create a graphic using a free site like Many Eyes. (If you’re not familiar with the type of visualizations this site creates, check out this link to see an example of social network users, which ties nicely into your discussion, too.)

Once you learn more about your students’ patterns and comfort levels with technology, you can start planning instruction accordingly as it relates to your journalism curriculum.

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3 thoughts on “Start your beginning journalism class by measuring students’ connectivity

  • August 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm
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    Great post! I am going have my students take this quiz on Monday. And I had not heard of Many Eyes, but plan to spend this weekend getting familiar.

  • August 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm
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    The quiz is a great idea. But several of the questions/indicators are not worded appropriately given the choices available. For example, when asking if you need help from other to set up new technology, the answers do not make sense . . . somewhat well? not well? Please reword and it will be extremely useful.

  • August 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm
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    Thanks for the feedback, Tamra. I didn’t create the quiz, so I can’t reword the answers as you’ve suggested. It might make for great discussion in class and how the quiz could be reworded to be more user-friendly.

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