Build digital skills early, have intro journalism students create multimedia packages for the web

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Students at Francis Howell North High School in the school’s introductory journalism course created a series of multimedia web packages this past year. You can click on the image to view them or through the link within the post.

I switched things up for my semester-long introductory journalism class in May. Instead of having students write a feature story as their final big project, I had them create multimedia web packages. The results turned out better than I expected and I plan to keep the project as part of the class curriculum in 2014-15 – and work to expand upon it.

You can see many of the final projects the class created here: http://fhntoday.com/category/featured/journalism-multimedia-packages/

Prior to this final class project, students were given training on writing, basic photography composition, basic video principles, web posting and a handful of online tools including Cincopa, ThingLink, Videolicious, Soundcloud and Google Maps. However, students were free to choose whatever tools they wanted to best tell their stories and were pointed to the extensive list of multimedia tools on this site.

Their instructions were, in part, the following:

– – –

Intro Journalism

Multimedia Project

For this multimedia project you have some options for what you can do.

Individuals

  • You can create a news or a feature package
  • You must have a story that is at the very least 6 paragraphs. Longer stories will be given extra credit depending on their length
  • You must have two different relevant multimedia elements (ie. photo gallery, video, audio, etc.)
  • You must meet the deadlines set forth

Groups

  • Max of 2 in a group
  • You can create a news or a feature package
  • You must have a story that is at the very least 6 paragraphs. Longer stories will be given extra credit depending on their length
  • You must have three different relevant multimedia elements
  • You must meet the deadlines set forth

Deadlines

  • Project topic set by beginning of class May 16
  • May 19. Final day to gather information. Students have classtime if they want.
  • All content finalized and ready to go by beginning of class Thursday, May 22
  • Thursday, May 22, students create posts on FHNtoday.com with their multimedia packages. Packages due done by the end of class.
  • Friday, May 23, share final projects in class.

– – –

Overall, students enjoyed the project. I did a survey of the class when it was done. Here are some of the results:

  • Did you like the final multimedia project we did? 100% said YES
  • Did you learn some things you didn’t know before in the multimedia project? 93% said YES
  • Did you find the multimedia project fun? 86% said YES

While it was just one class and not a huge sampling, the data encourages me to try it again this next  year as I found students engaged with the project, learning skills that will be relevant to them whether or not they choose to join staff. While I do continue to share an App of the Week with the intro students as I have in the past, I plan to work more web/multimedia in throughout the semester rather than just at the end, and I plan to incorporate more of this type of work into the beginning Digital Photojournalism class as well.

Would love to hear what you are doing to incorporate multimedia into your classes. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.

 

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 19th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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