Monday, January 03, 2005

Teaching digital media

Last year I made blogs, divided the students into groups and asked them to blog intensively for three days. That did not work out too well. There were several reasons for that, these are some of them.
  • The students were in the middle of a period of very busy production
  • I asked them to do two things: learn how to blog and discuss topics they had to research
  • Three days is too short a time to understand what blogging is about, blogs are slow despite the instant publishing

They kept up with blogging though, and used a large group blogs as a way to stay in touch while in their internships.

This year I am setting a clear task which we will work on over a larger span of time. The topic for all of them is the disaster in South-east india. I want all of them to have the same focus, and then collect links to coverage of the disaster. I do however NOT want them to focus on what is in the papers or comes from organised sources, but to mainly look for material which comes unfiltered from common people - a lot of which will be communicated through blogs.

For new media scholars, large and dramatic events involving a lot of "normal" people, that is people whose main job is something other than communication, are fascinating cases to study. 11th of September 2001 and the war in Iraq are two events where personal publishing became important sources of information. Now the tsunami in South-East Asia becomes another case in this rather unhappy list.

I will also make one little twist from last year, and run one of the Tsunami blogs myself. I will use this to give direction to the students, provide hints and links, and organise the material they find. All of these blogs will be in Norwegian, but I'll post the links when they are up and running.

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