Category Archives: Blogs

Journalism and public relations student’ blogs

Online Media 1:30 section
Kelly Anderson
Tara Boyd
Caitlin Cruz
Harmony Huskison
Olivia Khiel
Leila O’Hara
Torunn Sinclair
Preston Sotelo
Cassie Strauss

Online Media 4:30 section

Erin O’Connor
Charissa Heckard
Charles J. Hall
Mohamud Ali
Vanja Veric
Haley Madden
Ali Lasch
Haley Buntrock
Hayden Packwood
Osej Serratos
Sonya Chavez
Hannah Shive
Devin McIntyre
Samantha Koukoulas
Michelle Rivas
David Sydiongco
Monique Zatcoff
Daniel Escobedo
Sebastian Zotoff

Hiring trend: we’ll take you and your followers

Students must know how to cultivate community. It is becoming more common to expect that they secure a social media following prior to graduation. As an example, the Klout score is the new the press pass. A high Klout score suggests that you have influence among your followers.

The number of people using social networking sites is growing. And more than half of U.S. adults follow a brand. Information providers must know how to write stories, but they must also learn how connect that content to readers.

The responsibility of promotion and connection is shifting from the organization to the individual. Broadcast journalists are expected to tweet and Facebook. The majority of journalists operate social media accounts. However, the posting of content does not guarantee an audience especially if you are a student.

I have found students can learn computer-mediated communication in a short amount of time. But at first, most students treat social media applications as if they were Facebook.

My students are required to tweet for two weeks after my Twitter lecture. The reoccurring theme I hear each semester is that they do not understand Twitter until I ask them Tweet information for two weeks. Following that assignment, I require my students to write a small reflection paper. These are excerpts from my honor’s section:

“Before this project, I didn’t fully understand the point of Twitter, and I mostly used as an extension of my Facebook profile.”

“I was aware of the value of Twitter, but I had yet to reap the rewards because I did not understand how to make use of all of its advantages.”

“I had a Twitter account, but it might as well have been completely inactive. My lack of interest probably spawned from not understanding the purpose of the social media site … I would never anticipated at the beginning of this project that I would 53 followers within two weeks. I will absolutely continue to use Twitter.”

“Coming into this Twitter project, I didn’t have a high opinion of Twitter and my underlying, unspoken goal was to get through this project as quickly as possible. However, after just two weeks on the aforementioned social media, I have come to understand and enjoy the rapid sharing of information.”

My students are amazing. But it is an invalid assumption to think that students are digitally savvy in all spheres. Each application cultivates a unique community, and to be respected by its members, people must know how to speak the language to engage participants. People tend to connect to people they perceive as like-minded, which positively influences trust.

As a teacher, you need to encourage them to publish useful information for a niche community. One component of credibility is expertise. They should develop expertise in a topic area to help position themselves as an information authority. This is uncomfortable for some students, but it is how intellectual communities are built.

Helping students pick a blog topic

My Online Media students published their first posts today. The assignment requires them to focus on a niche area. The most difficult part often is trying to think of an idea for a blog topic.

For example, food blogs were attractive to students this semester. It would be difficult to develop community and authority with such a broad topic area. To follow their passion while helping them to be successful, students identified their corners in the food blogosphere.

One student is evaluating the healthiness of health food; another student is creating video and using text to decipher food terminology; and another student is focusing on sharing information on how to prepare backpacking meals. They will do well if they focus on quality and are unique enough to be recognized by other bloggers in their niche community.

Here are some questions that may help you develop a blog topic:
1. Can you develop a community? Is your content unique? Has it been done a million times? Harry Potter is not unique.
2. Can the angle allow for substance? Or will it lend itself to more surface-level coverage?
3. Are you committing professional suicide?

Prof KRG also presented questions you should ask yourself when trying to develop a blog topic. Jayson Peters pointed me to a site that details five different types of blogs that may help you identify your specialty.

Please feel free to read and comment on my students’ posts:

Aiyana Havir – Eye.oh.uh.Musician

Alex Lancial – The Dive Log

Kate Kunkel – Health Food is Junk

Pearce Bley – Budget Valley Golfing

Kayla Frost - The Hungry Backpacker

Mauro Whiteman – Words Like Freedom

Gabriela Rodiles – Gourmet Gab

Dani Schenone – The Closet Hoarder

Brittany Morris -Beardlesque Brittany

Connor Radnovich – Point of Clarification

Kelsey Roderique – Advertising Basics

Josselyn Berry – No More Ms. Nice Girl

Alex Gregory – State of the Stuff

Preston Sotelo – Videogames – The Digital Odyssey

Copyright basics including resources for free multimedia

My students are required to create and design original content in my Online Media class. In some cases, they are allowed to include other creators’ work on their sites. I lecture briefly on copyright. This semester I decided to dedicate more time to the topic.

Much misinformation exists about copyright. Mark S. Luckie lists common copyright mistakes. Google Images are not free for inclusion on websites. Students will often ask if it is permissible to use a photograph if they credit the source, however it is important to understand that citing the source does not equate to permission from the author.

Permission must be asked before taking multimedia content from another source, according the U.S. Copyright Office, unless “embed code” is adjacent to the content (e.g., YouTube). Or students can take their own pictures, record their own audio, or shoot their own video. Students should also not alter the image or use a derivative of the author’s work unless permission is given.

Copyright Basics

Copyright is “a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.” Copyright lasts for the life of creator + 70 years from the author’s death.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a nice overview of what works are copyright protected and fair use. @JackRosenberry shared with me an entertaining YouTube video using Disney snippets to explain copyright and fair use. Frank Lomonte from the Student Law Press Center tipped him about the video.

Public Domain Resources

Some organizations provide content that is classified as public domain, which means property rights are held by the public:

Stock Image Resources

Students can also use stock photos for free or for a price. Here is a list of sites that offer free stock photos:

Creative Commons

People have access to creative commons content because authors/creators provide permission through Creative Commons licenses. Authors can choose from a variety of licensing options. A person must read the author’s restrictions related to the use of their content before posting the author’s content. Authors often times allow people to use their work as a way of promoting themselves, and thus, they want credit for their work. Creative Commons (CC) “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier to share and build upon the works of others consistent with copyright. We provide free licenses to enable sharing,” according to Vice Chair of Creative Commons Esther Wojcicki.

This screencast shows you how to navigate creative common search engines. Here are some sites that host or provide access to free creative commons content and other sites:

Licensing Your Site

Students can copyright their blog or site as well, however it can be costly. Law student Ruth Carter said at a PodCamp AZ conference that it costs $65 every three months to copyright a blog. You do not have to register your site/content to receive copyright protection, however @rbcarter said the advantage is you are able to sue for more money if someone steals your stuff. If someone steals your content, you can also sue for statutory damages ($200 – $150,000 per infringement) and attorneys fees, rather than just actual damages.

Motivating students to continue blogging

Students are required to create a WordPress blog for their first assignment in my Online Media class. A blog is beneficial because it can help students establish themselves as an expert on a topic. As a learning tool, it teaches my students how to publish and connect information online.

My hope is that they will continue their blog following the class. A small portion of my journalism and mass communication students continue their blog past the four required posts in my class. Eleven out of my 37 Fall 2010 students continued their blog.

The most effective way I have found to encourage students to continue their blog is through feedback in the form of metrics and user comments, not my feedback :). I have students embed Sitemeter onto their blogs. This free metrics tool helps them see what keywords were used to find them, the location of their visitors, and how often people visit their site. Sitemeter code can be embedded in a text box widget. You can’t use Google Analytics with free WordPress. I feel that they should be able to understand a little about metrics by the time they finish my class. Most people are not aware of how effortless it is to track online behavior.

Students are also amazed that people will comment, and most often, comments are supportive of their work.

One student, Emily Timm, created a blog on spinning. She averages 70 to 100 views a week. She discovered people were finding her because she understood SEO and Google. People asked her to contribute more often on her blog. She says, it was “something she definitely wasn’t expecting.”

Cronkite student Julia Tylor was the surprise hit of the semester with her blog on taste-testing weird food products. It was always a pleasure to read. After two months, she received more than 11-thousand visits. She blogs weekly because she has received overwhelming feedback and “because it is a lot of fun.”

Kelsea Wasung decided to use her blog to discuss the broadcast news industry. Her blog led to an opportunity to write for School Video News, an online magazine for K-12 students.

It is important to encourage them to write about a passion or hobby. Lia Steinberg decided to share to tips on geocaching. She found that blogging has helped her to see that a large number of people have similar interests. Lia was cited in an article about traveling.

Other motivated student bloggers posted on living gluten-free, helping young writers, the Arizona music scene, conservative and Hispanic views of politics, spirituality at ASU, and life as a foreigner living in Arizona.

Students should publish now, rather than waiting for a class assignment or an assignment editor’s approval.

Some requirements of blog assignment include:

  1. Their full name on the blog
  2. Text box explaining the purpose of blog
  3. A picture of themselves on an About or Contact page
  4. An email address on an About or Contact page
  5. Allow people to comment on their posts
  6. Each post must contain at least one meaningful link
  7. One-to-three sentence paragraphs
  8. At a minimum, the post should be educational and/or entertaining
  9. Use both tags and categories
  10. Use keywords in the headline

Student online resumes: design and color selection

I teach sophomore-level students how to create website portfolios. I believe that some of these portfolios are very well-designed. One of the most trying parts of teaching students to create a site from scratch is that they love to paint their favorite color (pink, purple, green, etc.) all over their site. I love color, but… I try to encourage them to use their favorite color in a different way: font. I also encouraged the use of bigger font, bigger images, and social media icons.

Here is a link to previous sections of Online Media.

Honor’s Section
Julia Tylor
Jessica Goldberg
Chelsey Heath
Mary Shinn
Stacy Gollinger
Kelsea Wasung
Pedro Silva
Sam Tongue
Cortney Bennett
Danielle Chavez
Nicole Lavella
Evie Carpenter
Gerald Bourguet
Annie Carson
Jessica Choi
Nesima Aberra
Jacob Wipf
Daria Marjanovic

JMC305 Group
Olivia Makinson
Jacqueline Gutierrez
Justin Beatty
Lia Steinberg
Alexa Ablondi
Annia Quiroz
Steven Atkinson
Jen Hoagland
Mary Papuyo
Nicole Galbo
Marisa Roper
Amy Pitney
Alexis Smith
Samantha Egan
Evan Bisbee
Erick Judge
Justine Garcia
Duyen Tran
Katelynn Garrett
Nathan McWhortor

How to create a Twitter Background

I spent a few hours learning how to create a Twitter background in Photoshop for my Twitter page. I don’t have much free time, and playing with technology is one way I stay sane. Plus, a very active Twitter user and my student, Paige Soucie, requested to learn. Fortunately, I ran into my friend Nancie Dodge. She shared with me her recently acquired (last night) knowledge on how to create a Twitter background in Photoshop.

I will share my notes from her quick lesson on how to create the image in Photoshop. These instructions require a very basic knowledge of Photoshop.

*Please note that this is for the old Twitter.



Free Social Media and Other icons:
50 Social Service and Bookmarking Icons Sets for Bloggers

35 Social Media Love Icons
Free Icons
75 Beautiful Free Social Bookmarking Icon Sets

Steps: This handout is for users who know basic Photoshop.
1. Open Photoshop
2. File > New > Name Document > Preset (Web) > Select 1280 X 1024 or 1024 X 768 (Size is experimental because people have control over the size of their browser by stretching the handles in the corner).
3. Pick a color using the Paint Bucket tool. It is best to stick to a solid color because you will have to match the background color chosen in Twitter because people may stretch their browser beyond the size of your image.
4. The left-hand side is the real estate typically used for sharing information about yourself or your company. The main Twitter center area is approximately 763 pixels. Design content for outside that area. Try 160 pixels for your width of your informational sidebar on the left-hand side. That is what worked for me.
5. New Layer(s) > Create your informational sidebar (e.g., name, social media icons, URLs, picture)
6. You will find you will likely have to upload several .jpg versions of your design to Twitter because the width does not always work. I uploaded 5 different .jpgs my first time.
6. File > Save for the Web and Devices
7. Go to Twitter > Settings > Design > Change Background Image
8. Change Design Colors > Find your Web color in Photoshop (e.g., 500303)
9. Test the final design on several computers.

SYLLABI: Teaching Online Journalism and Communication

Online Journalism Review aggregated syllabi in 2004, however this list needs to be updated. In an attempt to aggregate this information, I have begun a list of syllabi dedicated to online journalism, online communication and social media. I found that results from Google do not showcase all of the best available syllabi online.

This section highlights faculty syllabi that focus on skills, theory, online communication, and journalism. The selected sites featured interactive, timely, and great resources for students, educators, journalists, and people with a desire to learn. I have also highlighted some useful features that I believe may be useful for educators.

Mindy McAdams – University of Florida
Mindy McAdams shares her syllabi focused on the teaching of multimedia, animation, and reporting for online users. Her sites are designed simply and feature possible assignment ideas and online resources for educators and students.

Dave Stanton – University of Florida
Dave Stanton has a broad background, which enables him to teach web consulting, design and XHTML/CSS. I really like that Dave gives his students video tutorials to help them process information outside of class.

Serena Carpenter – Arizona State University
My class is the foundation class for all things concerning online media. It is divided into three sections: 1) social media, 2) visual communication, and 3) Web site creation. The focus throughout the semester is on online communication. I provide ideas for class assignments as well. I also provide tutorials on my blog.

Leslie-Jean Thornton – Arizona State University
This is an online reporting course for students in a Masters program. The resources page also provides some useful tutorials.

Carol Schwalbe and Nancie Dodge – Arizona State University
The Advanced Online Media class builds upon skills taught in previous basic online media classes.

Cindy Royal – Texas State University
Cindy Royal’s site contains useful ideas to include into lectures.

Don Wittekind – University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
I am impressed by Don Wittekind’s ability to teach Flash, based on my experience from a past seminar. Don provides a list of classes that he teaches in the left-hand navigation section. He provides some lectures and handouts as well.

Ryan Thornburg – University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Ryan Thornburg shares his online reporting syllabi. His assigned readings page is interactive.

Alfredo A. Marin-Carle – Ball State University
The New Media Journalism concentrates on web design. The reference section offers a list of useful sites for people teaching such courses.

Tracy Rutledge – University of Tennessee at Martin
Intro to Multimedia focuses on creating multimedia websites. She provides some tutorials as well.

Donica Mensing – University of Nevada-Reno
Donica Mensing shares her syllabus for her online reporting course, which covers multimedia reporting, social media and HTML/CSS. She provides helpful videos as well.

Laura Ruel
– University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Laure Ruel teaches design and multimedia storytelling. She has a great downloads section that features storyboarding and usability execises.

Chris Harvey – University of Maryland
I like that this instructor’s Online Journalism class schedule is interactive and detailed.

Sean Mussenden – University of Maryland
His Online Journalism course has screencast tutorials teaching others how to use WordPress.

Gaurav Mishra -  Georgetown University
The Social Media in Business, Development and Government course concentrates on social media literacy.

Henry Jenkins – Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program
The New Media Literacies course site shares resources related to online participation and communication.

Alice J. Robinson – Arizona State University
The Digital Cultures and Social Media course is a doctoral seminar. There is a list of thought-provoking pieces on her schedule and on her Delicious page.

Corinne WeisgerberSt. Edward’s University
The Social Media for Public Relations class offers useful material for anyone teaching social media including how to reach online users.

David Carlson – University of Florida
He teaches an Applied Interactive Newspaper course and an online communication class. I like that student projects are shared.

Tim McGuire – Arizona State University
The Business and Future of Journalism class encourages students to reflect on the journalism industry by having them write about business models. Tim also provides links to suggested readings.

Siva Vaidhyanathan – University of Virgina
This Introduction to Digital Media instructor encourages students to take a critical look at new media and its impact on culture. The reading list is a useful resource.

Jeffrey Michael Heer – Stanford University
Research Topics in Human-Computer Interaction is a graduate-level course focused on HCI. He also includes links to student articles.

Vin Crosbie – Syracuse University

The course examines how new media differs from traditional media. Crosbie provides a list of books that may be useful for other instructors.

To add your course to the list, email me or provide your syllabus in the comments section including background information related to the course. I hope that these examples are useful for educators designing their classes for future semesters and for those looking for resources to learn more about the online media environment.

Bringing structure to the grading of blog posts

Every semester I struggle with the grading of my students’ blog posts. For most of my students in my Online Media class, it is the first time that they have blogged.

It takes awhile for students to adjust to online communication and how the blogosphere plays a part. I just finished grading their first two posts in my class. Based on my experience, I felt compelled to create a rubric for grading blogs in future classes. I would appreciate any suggestions. Feel free to apply it to your class. Here is the PDF of the grading rubric for blog posts.

*Hat tip to Dale Cressman for the idea.

Look who’s back

It is a new semester. I have decided to rejoin the social media sphere (at least on a professional level) again. I am teaching online media this semester. If you would like to view my syllabus, please do. I break the semester into three parts: social media, visual communication and site creation. Feedback is always welcomed.

Also, Dave Stanton shared his syllabus with me. It is definitely worth a visit.