Another visit to Belgium is over and with it another successful delivery of the Katho New Media course. A big thank you goes to the students for their enthusiasm and hard work and to the Katho Hantal and those in charge of the Erasmus exchange program for making this happen again. Also a very big thank you goes to our wonderful, unhealthy inspiring and most kind guests John Coster, Tina Barton (Citizens’ Eye), James O’Malley (Ipadio) and Mic Adam (Vanguard Leadership) who gave us their time and shared with us their stories about community journalism, working in a start-up, and consulting others on social media policy.
One of the big changes of this semester’s delivery was that of replacing the academic assignment (a 1-page summary and commentary for 3 of the assigned readings) with a mini-social media audit team project. This change was partly due to the changes in schedule (8 sessions worth of teaching scheduled in 6 meetings) and partly due to the previous students’ positive response to applied exercises. As in previous semesters we used existing companies such as Vanguard Leadership (see analysis), the Library of the University of the West of Scotland (see analysis), Ipadio (see analysis), Encroute Catering (see analysis) and Urban Bar & Brasserie (see analysis). Some of the companies used for the social media audit exercise also provided a guest speaker, giving the class a great opportunity to receive direct feedback to their observations and suggestions. As a final note, students also had to write a reflection blog post about one of the guest lectures, inviting them to revisit, evaluate and put in the context of their studies the lessons learned from practitioners who joined us. All these writings are accessible via the class blogs and wiki:
Judging from the evaluation of the course (to which all 17 students answered) the hands-on exercises were most appreciated even if there were tight deadlines and some technological challenges. The students also reported (in the evaluation but also during class conversations) that they enjoyed the challenge of creating an ad for the class to attract incoming students. You can see some of the videos here, here and here.
I am humbled and honored to have received such positive evaluation. More than 50% of the class assessed the course organization and its effectiveness as very good with elements such as my use of technology and examples receiving an excellent vote from more than 60% of the students. The report below shows the entire evaluation.
Similar to the previous semesters most of our guest lecturers joined the class virtually via Skype or TokBox. The interaction between the students and the guests was very good (provided that the technology didn’t fail us and we didn’t lose connection). When our call with John Coster and Tina Barton was severely interrupted (we couldn’t even establish an audio connection) the students turned to Twitter to share their questions. They received the answer to their questions in a short video response that Tina recorded on my TokBox. This proves again, that there is great potential for integrating technology in the classroom as a means of enriching the class experience and expanding the students’ horizons. This also shows that technology can be used to complement the class delivery and strategy.
However, a lesson learned this semester includes that of capturing and maintaining the students’ attention during the hours of the course. Encouraging students to use Twitter as a back channel, to check out online resources, add photos to the class Flickr group and complete small research and analysis exercises during class time ensured that their attention was maintained most of the time. As usual, there is always place for improvement.
All these being said, I have enjoyed this semester and I am looking forward to my next group and my next class.