Friday, May 22, 2009

iJournalism or Mobile Journalism

Interesting things happening at the University of Missouri, which mirror, in many ways, discussions we're having on our own campus regarding creation of a new "Writing for the Internet" program. I think we're already at a point where a journalist can work as an individual with a camera (video and/or still), a digital voice recorder, and a web-connected smartphone. The tools are getting cheaper, easier to use and more ubiquitous. The iPhone makes perfect sense for mobile journalism - capture a picture, record some audio, use the web to do some quick fact-checking, type a brief story, and have it posted before you even leave the scene. [The rumored next generation iPhone could also include vidoe capture and editing]. Opens the door to all types of abuses, but also all sorts of opportunities. Kids are going to be already doing this, wether we teach them or not, so I think it's important that we embrace this new paradigm and teach kids the right way to do this, as well as ethics and integrity.

University Hopes To Teach Some iJournalism:
Now the nation's oldest journalism school is asking students to buy those or similar devices[iPods, iPhones]. Not to listen to shoe-gazing indie rock, or watch clips from 'The Daily Show,' but to download classroom lectures or confirm facts on the Web while reporting from the scene of a plane crash or town council meeting.

The new rule for incoming freshmen at the University of Missouri School of Journalism appears to mark the first time an American university is requiring specific portable electronic devices. The policy has spurred a debate about the limits and possibilities of technology as well as corporate influence in academia.
Among the uses envisioned by Brooks and other professors: students listening to lectures while at the gym or walking to class; using wireless Internet access to verify information while reporting stories; and watching instructional videos that otherwise would take up valuable classroom time.

Among the detractors is Clyde Bentley, who
... was one of nine journalism professors who voted against the new policy (with 40 in support) at a recent faculty meeting. His primary concern was saddling students with an additional expense. He also questioned whether students who rely on portable devices to listen to Vampire Weekend or watch "The Colbert Report" will embrace the journalism school's intended uses.

"I had a student say that he used his iPod to get away from me," Bentley said, recalling previous attempts to offer podcasts of his lectures.

On why the iPod/iPhone is required:
Brooks pointed out that by requiring portable electronic devices, the university can include those costs in financial aid packages. And the $229 student price of an iPod Touch is comparable to two or three textbooks, he said.

And finally, what do experts and futurists have to say?
Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, calls the new Missouri requirement "not only reasonable but admirable." He likened the debate to discussions several years ago over whether colleges should ask incoming students to buy PCs or laptop computers -- by now a largely moot point.

"Schools are usually far behind their students in embracing new technology. And faculty are usually behind the schools," Cole said.

"It really shows how both journalism and education are changing in transformational ways," he added. "The biggest effect the Internet will have is not how we play or communicate, but how we learn."

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