Monday, July 10, 2006

NECC, 2006 - eJournalism

eJournalism: Authentic Learning with Technology and Journalism
Gloria Antifaiff, Qu'Appelle Valley School Division with Kelly Ireland

I was drawn to this presentation because the title implied using technology as a tool for journalism. I wasn’t disappointed. This presentation showcased several successful eJournalism projects that have been completed by Saskatchewan high school students.

eJournalism began is Saskatchewan in 1999 and since then they have done more than 16 formal projects. eJournalism involves students working as teams to report on events such as a conferences or some other community event. The products of the reporting are newsletters that are distributed at the conference and web sites about the event. In the examples discussed at this presentation groups of 8 to 23 high school students in 11th and 12th grade were trained in the skills needed to do an eJournalism project and then traveled to a conference to do the reporting. Students get a special credit for the time out into the project.

Schools often sponsor sports teams or musical groups to participate in festivals or play in other towns. The great thing about this project is that high school students interested in journalism, writing and website development are given the same opportunity to travel that student athletes and musicians have.

The students selected to work on the projects have interests in writing and journalism and work in teams. The students participating in the projects come from across the school district and they start with some team building skills. This is an extra project that students do in their after school time. Students are assigned shifts and have to meet deadlines. Teachers take a minor role and are there for guidance and support

If you are interested in starting an eJournalism project the presenters suggested that you:
Get district approval first
Apply for grants to fund the project in addition to funds from your school district
Think about possible venues, they target conferences
Staff team should include students with knowledge of website design, video editing, photojournalism, newsletter skills, interviews skills, publicity and computer tech skills
Involve students that are self-motivated
Have in-district training days in school to build team skills and spirit before a trip

On site organization is also an important consideration. Where are you going to be located – the presenters liked to be in the display area so conference delegates can see the students working. They split things up into stations – writing, web page development, video editing, photojournalism, PR and newsletter interviews.. They rotate students though jobs over several shifts. At the end of each shift students had to complete a part of the project.

On site teachers go with students to sessions and provide some support but it is all about the students doing the work. Students are exhausted at the completion of the project but exhilarated. At the end of the project they meet celebrate and have closure.

I was very impressed with the quality of the planning by the teachers and the quality of work of the students. I suggested that the group seek funding from the conferences they were covering to help fund this exciting opportunity for student journalists.

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