Friday, 18 September 2009

Back to work - with an iPod Touch

My first day back at work after a four month sabbatical was considerably eased by the gift of an iPod Touch. All totally above board - the phone is part of a project my colleague @anthonymcneill is working on to promote Twitter as a learning tool and investigate its possibilities for creating new ways of classroom interaction. Given that students (certainly my students) have texted a whole message before I even manage to find the predictive text key, there could definitely be mileage in, say tweeting debate questions on Twitter to which students can text responses and see each others' tweets in real time. The challenge will be to strike a balance between innovation and technology for the sake of it, I think. Tony has started his own blog on the project and his ideas, which makes very interesting reading.

But he was keen to get journalism students involved because they are, as he rightly says, more obvious users of Twitter than, for example, engineers. My first move will be to set up a course- specific Twitter account as part of Tony's project, which I'll use to get students used to the idea that they can collaborate on their own stories, find sources and find other journalists to follow. I've just looked at the MA Journalism multi-media reporting module that I wrote for the first time last year and the first thing that struck me is how old-fashioned it looks (it doesn't help that I have to teach the NCTJ newswriting syllabus as part of the module but that's another story which I'll come back to). So the module is in for a complete overhaul. It won't be as hot on social media as the MA in social media run by @paulbradshaw at Birmingham City but it'll be a lot more up to date than the NCTJ's newwriting exam.

Re the iPod Touch. It's a beautiful piece of technology and the touch screen is a masterpiece. But how frustrating that wi-fi on the move is so minimal. Mobile internet access is a bit less useful when you can only really use it in places where you already have internet access through your desktop PC (ie at work or at home). Still, who am I to complain?

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