Multimedia course offers opportunity

This course, Teaching Multimedia, could not have happened at a better time. Not only is our student-run newspaper at school making a commitment to go online, but I am working to create a hyperlocal news website covering my community.

Both have taken time to develop. The school site has been around since 2015. My own site, which I will be using for this course, has been around since this past summer.

In both cases, it is taking too long, partially because I am not well versed in online publishing, particularly because multimedia, while all the rage, seems to this aging journalist a way of muddying the water ways of communication rather than clearing them up for readers trying to navigate them.

In other words, is multimedia simply bells and whistles, or does it have a finer purpose, to provide a reader with deeper understanding of a story?

Andy Bull provides guidance in his text, Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide. He has already won me over with his no-nonsense approach and valuable instruction, as well as the advantages of a multimedia approach.

As an educator, however, I wanted to know more about the effects of multimedia in the classroom. I have always associated journalism with education–journalists being not simply the first historians but the primary educators of citizens.

I turned to multimedia guru Dr. Richard Mayer, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a short interview where he discusses multimedia in the education.

In his interview, he talks about the goal of multimedia deepening meaning, rather than introducing bells and whistles, just to pretty up things.

That is simply some background. I will continue to listen and learn from Bull and Mayer. And I will continue to present what I learn on my blog.

The most encouraging, and perhaps the simplest, bit of information I came across that helps me in my role as journalist and teacher comes from the learning module, featuring “Lesson 1: What is Photojournalism?

It came in the form of a 25-second clip featuring Jay Rosen’s definition of citizen journalism. It hit home: “When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.”

For the students and me, who are embarking on separate journeys, this definition is a reminder that we are operating in a new world. No longer does the gatekeeper model of news work.

We are now collaborators, journalists and citizens, citizen journalists among journalist citizens, something along those lines. The tools are available. Now we just need to learn to use them in a way that brings deeper understanding, rather than clouds it.

That is what I hope to get from this course.

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