Stepping Up The Social Media Teaching Strategies Thanks To AEJMC Magazine Panel

In the effort to help students prepare for a magazine world where publications are shifts from paper to pixels, three professors shared some teaching tips based on their own research that might change the way we teach social media in our journalism classes.

BLACKSBURG, Va– The notion of “save the best for last,” definitely applies to a trio of presentations scheduled for the tail end of  the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium last weekend here on the Virginia Tech campus.

Representing the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Magazine Division, Yanick Rice Lamb, Erin Coyle, and Susan Sivek delivered a set of recommendations for “Going Digital: Preparing Students to Succeed as Magazines Move from Paper to Pixels.”

“This is more than just a shift in the delivery method,” Sivek said. “It’s about changing our mindset as professors and instructors. Audience expectations are changing.”

The Linfield College professor explained one of the drivers for the shift from “Paper to Pixels” is the group of social media platforms that have created user expectations that stories have a “Share” button.

Sivek, in particular brought to the session some of her work on the PBS MediaShift Web Site.

For example, last month she wrote about a relatively new strategy at Esquire, where editors released a trailer-style video to publicize a feature story before it actually was available in the  printed magazine.

Susan Sivek presented slides built on an iPad background.

The three educators brought some ideas to the table that I must put into action as I require students to utilize social media as part of crafting a journalistic product.

Twitter Beyond Linking 

Instead of celebrating (and offering course credit) for having a Twitter account of posting tweets,  Sivek has challenged me to challenge my students to take their tweets beyond just linking.

“We should create engagement, have community  and manage dialogue,” she said.

“Change is the cost of doing business,” said Yanick Rice Lamb, who teaches several courses in the journalism department at Howard University’s School of Communications. (Full disclosure: I am a proud 1992 graduate of this program– Go Bison!)

Lamb’s research focuses on the innovative way national magazines are changing in the age of iPod and e-Reader platforms.

Yanick Rice Lamb shared early results of her research on the digital strategies of several national magazines.

Among the findings from her study was the realization that many magazines are expecting  those new hires in the magazine design arena to not just have traditional skills in pagination programs such as Quark X Press and Adobe InDesign.

Increasingly, those designers may be called upon to design contact for a mobile APP and thus must arrive at the publication with some familiarity with HTML5 and JavaScript.

Thick and Thin Tweets

While she didn’t come up with this idea– Sivek referred those of us in attendance at her presentation to a wonderful blog post with guidelines on thick and thin tweets.

In 2009, David Silver at the University San Francisco first defined thin tweets as those that provide only one layer of information.   On the other hand, “Thick tweets”   convey two or more levels of information.

” I’m trying to teach my students how to craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people’s attention,” Silver writes in the post.

It’s a post worth checking out.

Since Silver laid out his guidelines, some like Kelli Marshall have referenced Silver’s original post in their own guidelines for student tweets.

Making Over the Magazine Course

Erin Coyle shared results from her analysis of syllabi from magazine courses.

While I don’t teach courses specifically in magazine journalism, I found Erin Coyle’s research on the syllabi of such courses fascinating.

Coyle, who teaches in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, analyzed the syllabi for 40 magazine courses at 23 schools .

Only 15 of the courses made explicit references to “changing trends” or “convergence”

Five of the syllabi made explicit reference to mobile delivery platforms.

“This is only the beginning of a larger study,” Coyle said. “Our students are getting exposed to multimedia approaches.  There are some real practical approaches.”

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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