I just got an e-mail from one of my former journalism professors asking for input on a new class she’s looking to institute.
She’s got some good ideas for the course, centering much of it around multimedia content.
Tucked within her note asking alumni for ideas and input, she included an interesting little unscientific survey she asked of her students. In her poll of two classes totaling 35 students, she found that:
- None knew what del.icio.us, Twitter, Technorati, Digg or Newsvine were
- None were blogging
- Two said they read blogs, although neither of them commented on those blogs
- None of them subscribe to RSS feeds
- None were into podcasting in terms of either listening or creating
I was a bit until I got to thinking about it.
Personally, I didn’t even know the term social media until after graduation. But I knew what Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Myspace were. I knew of blogs and had grown up with IM.
I was involved in social media and didn’t really know it, and I’m guessing these kids are pretty much the same.
And I’m not surprised that they’re not producing content–they’re in school and that’s pretty taxing on your output resources. It’s also taxing on how much you can stomach. If you’re being asked to read several books a week, attend lectures and listen to presentations–all while maintaining a healthy social life–you’re not going to have a lot of room for extra noise.
That’s why you need the type of class that focuses on multimedia and highlights the tools at hand–the type of class she’s asking for input on. The exciting thing here is that social media is exploding everywhere from corporations to kindergarten classrooms. News organizations, businesses and nonprofits need this knowledge, and they need it right now. And who is in a better position to teach on it than the school of communications? If they don’t teach it, who will?
So feel free to chip in. What would you include in a journalism class that focused on the diverse multimedia tools at hand to share a single story?
My ideas include:
- Teach them to link out within stories (I still can’t figure out why news organizations refuse to do this).
- Teach them to treat comments like gold and engage readers. I’m blown away by how arrogant journalists tend to be with comments. This is your story, people are talking about it. This is a good thing. Celebrate the community, folks….
- Get them blogging early. Creating content that the whole world can see will make them better producers. It may also help them get a job someday, journalism or not.
- Check out Jeff Jarvis and his theories on the link economy.
- Learn how Google does what it does.