Pieces that contributed to this post:
- Gallagher’s Readicide
- Yancey’s Position Paper from the NCTE
- Barry Bachenheimer’s “42“
- Those brave souls who have pushed student work out to a global audience.
A few weeks back, one of the teachers in the English Department, Tom White, approached me with the idea to take his journalism class online somehow. It was a fairly broad idea and we worked together to refine it to get it ready for launch. The first iteration was with his first year journalism students in which we created a private blog which they only have access to view and post. As part of his regular practice, Tom had usually asked his students to pull articles from various news sources and review them. Traditionally, he had them hand him the articles and their summaries, he reviewed them and gave them back with comments. They wrote for him, he wrote for them in return. The blog enabled the students to continue to do the same assignment, but their writing was now publicly available to their classmates to not only read, but comment on. Subtle change, not revolutionary by any means, but a movement of the needle.
The changes he saw in their writing within the first two weeks (significantly longer writing, significantly better writing), gave him his second idea: take his second-year journalism students online as well. These were students who had been in the class for nearly two full years and had worked not only on the school newspaper, but also on the school yearbook. Needless to say, they have an understanding of audience. But this time, we didn’t restrict access to who can view it. We are pleased with the results.
It’s been two weeks with their writing, and we are ready to share our writing with the world at large. It’s free form, it’s wide open (all within school rules, of course). So we invite you, the world, to come read our article reviews and commentary, and to continue the dialogue with us at Wide Open Journalism.