Pedagogically Speaking

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I’m an information aggregator, a serial bookmarker. It used to be called hoarding or being a pack rat. Bad habits in real life, in hard copy, are bad habits. Online, they’re cool. For example, in real life, I have a thousand boxes of newspaper articles I wrote in my attic. Just in case. That’s hoarding. Bad. In my online life, I have thousands of links from articles, studies, newscasts, documentaries, etc… all stored on Twitter and on my Facebook page as links and notes. That’s called being a content aggregator. Same habit, different format. Good. There are literally hundreds of electronic ways to store and share information. Digg it. Fark it. Tag it. Stumble on it. Doesn’t matter. It’s all good, as the kids say. In fact, it’s all! Just don’t throw it in a box and toss it in your attic.

So while I would never invite you into my attic to show you the boxes of old newspaper clippings, I thought I’d post a screen’s worth of links and notes from just a few minutes of my day on Facebook. Good or bad? You decide.

Apparently I hoard ideas, too. Here’s a post from July, 2008 on this same topic. Guess I haven’t made too much progress:

In my attic, stacked rather fire-hazardly, are 32 boxes of newspaper clippings. I have at least 10 hard copies of every story I ever wrote with a word count above 600. Just. In. Case. I. Need. It.

For all of my classes I have dozens of file folders full of copies of copies of copies of stories and clips and lists and syllabi and yellowed pages of copy editing symbols. Just. In. Case.

The orchestra of Oregon forests offered a standing ovation when I went techno, figuring the days of my serial tree-killing madess were over. And they are. I put everything online. I Stumble on it. I share it on my Facebook page, on my Google saving-thingy, in my old-fashioned “Favorites” on the toolbar right up top of my screen. I bookmark it. I Del.i.cious it. I copy and paste it onto a Word document and save it to wherever stuff saves when I hit Save. I e-mail myself two copies to both e-mail accounts. I make my husband do the Flash Drive thing and so it’s all saved on that teeny little wrench thing I put in my pjs drawer.

While it may be true I’m saving trees, I remain a pack rat, a horder. I told this to Jon Dorbolo, the technology in education guru at Oregon State who introduced me to Blackboard and blogs and Shares, oh my. I confessed my repetitive saving/sharing disorder. He’s also a Philosphy prof, so of course he scratched his forehead and said there’s ALREADY A STUDY ABOUT THIS PHENOMENON!!!!

New Media. Old News.

Now here are some of the links I’m hoarding (aka bookmarking):

Pamela Cytrynbaum RT @mashable HOW TO: Do Almost Anything Online in 2010

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It’s a new year, which means it’s time to make resolutions, take on fresh challenges, learn new things and change our lives for the better. Perhaps you want to
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Years from now, when historians reflect on the time we are currently living in, the names Biz Stone and Evan Williams will be referenced side by side with the likes of Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham…
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Once just a fad, Twitter is developing into a powerful form of communication. What its growth says about us and the future of American innovation
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Pamela Cytrynbaum Hey new media students: David Carr’s right. Great piece on Twitter: Check out @time

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I can remember when I first thought seriously about Twitter. Last March, I was at the SXSW conference, a conclave in Austin, Tex., where technology, media and music are mashed up and re-imagined, and, not so coincidentally, where Twitter first rolled out in 2007. …
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Pamela Cytrynbaum A huge loss.Former Post ombudsman Deborah Howell dies –

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Pamela Cytrynbaum If I taught only via Twitter would I be a Tweatcher?

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Below is a response I wrote to a student’s blog post questioning the validity of Twitter (a question I believe is crucial!!) Her sense was, what’s the big deal?

In trying to explain the big deal, I tried below to engage her in the larger question of being open to all of the new media technocrapology flying at us. We have to know it exists, learn how to use it, find out its role in industry, decide if it does anything for is in our personal/professional lives, and once we’ve figured that all out, either use it or chuck it. Then get back up and wait for the Next New Thing to whiz by us and start all over again. That’s just the deal, and part of the fun. If it’s not fun – or funnISH, well, that’s another challenge. “This seems stupid” lets us off the hook in a way that I want my students to push through. Even if it is stupid.

Your critical eye and suspicion about new media technologies is a good instinct…I have it too. I think it’s important to strike a balance between being critical and being curious.

If all the big shots are using Twitter, and it is having an impact on global disasters, it’s something we must at least know about. That’s the deal with new media. Stuff erupts, you must become familiar enough with it to decide whether or not it works for your life…but you still have to know what it is, what it does, and why folks love/hate it. Especially if you want to be a broadcaster, your future will be full of these kinds of technologies. You’ll need to be open to the stupidest of them, and then decide for yourself what the possibilities might be.

I present this stuff as it comes at us. Don’t mistake me educating you with me trying to convince you of something’s worth. The worth is in the exploration and information.

Okay, so obviously I really liked that blog post because it engaged me, forced me to think and apparently required me to respond in detail. THAT’s a great post! I’d like to see you pushing yourself more to write more and really use the blog to the fullest potential you can.

Your career goals require you to be an expert in all of the forms I’m presenting, so if that’s what you’re wanting, take full advantage of the class to get yourself in a marketable, educated position for hiring. I’m so glad the Globe photo spread made an impression on you. As I keep saying, the most powerful way I can teach you all of this is to share examples and people who are doing great work. Describing a great photo essay to you is, well, not anywhere near as useful as having you explore and engage with one on your own. Okay, so push harder – in class, in your blog.

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This is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Facebook. Seriously. It makes me cry all the time.

I was searching for people from my high school and the name of this guy popped up. He was a great person, very friendly and decent and fun to be around. So I Friended him. I didn’t even know if he would remember me!! But I loved high school and he had a warm smile and I remember him so well that I gave it a shot.

Below is the note I got back. I mean, I know Facebook serves lots of daily, mundane, plan-making, time-wasting, insipid purposes for those 20 and under. But for those of us in our 40s, at least for THIS old broad in her 40s, Facebook is like a human time capsule reconnecting me with my favorite parts of my life and the wonderful people from those times.

I just got Friended by a girl who was my bestest friend when I was in 2nd grade. My daughter can’t believe I was ever her actual age AND that I had friends! Old neighbors, colleagues; these are not mere social networky associations. Many of these peoples’ faces and names alone make me burst into tears.

I am so moved and happy to reconnect with them and our connection — new media freaky-deaky as it is — is genuine and important. Why wouldn’t I have called them or searched for them? That’s another post. But for now, read the note below from my Facebook wall, and know that I’m still crying about the sweetness of an old friend from high school teaching his daughter life’s big lessons.

My wife and I were sitting at dinner when my Blackberry went off with the notification from Facebook with your friend request. When I told my wife you had sent me a friend request, she said, “How do I know that name?” And I reminded her of how I told my daughter (and her) about you when she was in first grade, about 10 years ago or so.

As she started school we were telling her to be nice and kind to people and I used you as an example of one of the nicest, kindest, smartest and prettiest girls in high school and I hoped she grew up to be just like you. And she has. The funny thing is that she also is considering journalism!

I see you are in Oregon…were you with the Tribune at some point? I think I remember seeing your byline sometime when we were in Chicago.

Your daughter is adorable. Hope you are well.


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When a high school cheerleader in northeastern Pennsylvania learned that she might face criminal charges after investigators reported finding a nude photo of her on someone else’s cellphone, she was more confused than frightened at being caught up in a case of “sexting”: the increasingly popular phenomenon of nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones.
Almost unheard of a year or two ago, cases related to “sexting,” nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones, are popping up all over the country.
What are the rules of the pedagogical road, here, in yet another bizarre exit on the New Media Super Highway?
Okay, like I don’t have enough to worry about trying to plan my New Media courses, which require relentless Twitter-like updating because so much happens every single minute. So I’m reconfiguring my language on the syllabus (again) about plagiarism to keep widening and deepening and broadening the big new media tent that it has become. (Post on that coming soon)
Next I come to the section on student conduct and appropriate classroom behavior to create an environment most conducive to learning with 77-82 students in a class.  I’m about discussion, engagement, exchange, not lecture alone…the bank deposit method where I have “The Knowledge” and you open your brain, receive it, vomit it back to me and I reward you for the reminder of my genius. Maybe it’s that I’m so confident in what I know and how crucial it is, that I’m comfortable with a conversation.  They teach me. I teach them.
Normally that happens and for the most part, my students end up feeling smarter and happier for having taken my class. Not all, of course, by any means. There are plenty for whom my style, the topic, my hair,  whatever, is simply enraging or whatever.  With new media, though, there are new implications. With new implications, come new lines on my syllabus. Like the one I’m putting on all my syllabi this term for the first time about how recording someone without their knowledge or consent is a Class A Misdemeanor in Oregon. If a student has a disability, that’s an entirely different set of rules. We will come to an agreement where all parties are made aware that recording is happening for this educational purpose.
But for the record, college students: In most states, it’s a crime to use any device to record someone without their knowledge or consent.  I hope to have a longer and more specific post on that soon as well.
I ask students to post photos of themselves with brief bios on our Blackboard discussion forum so I can start to learn their 77 or 82 names (I do that with my 27-person classes as well.) Many inevitably post photos from their Facebook pages: tube dresses made of yellow  police “CAUTION” tape, shots of body parts I don’t want to be able to identify in various stages of undress, dance moves that would make Elvis blush, a menagerie of images that, in the end, will not help me learn their names because their faces are smushed beneath ski caps, intertwinted with other faces or something else….you know the drill.
I show their posted photos and we do the “giggle test.” If your photo makes the class giggle, it’s not appropriate and would not make a potential employer giggle and it shouldn’t be on Facebook. I put that under “professionalism.”
There’s the usual no texting or Facebooking or im-ming in class unless I give you an assignment. And yes, I ask my students to commit various forms of new media during class.  A great way to bust them Facebooking in class is to get them to Friend you, and then during class when they have laptpos clacking away, just get on your Facebook page and see who else is on live. The kids LOVE that trick. Makes me seem very New Media hip. Once, when my students had a reporting assignment out of class and were supposed to be Twittering in from the field, one student didn’t come back to class. On the screen in front of the rest of the group I sent him a note on Facebook and Twitter — “Where are you? We’re all in the classroom waiting for you.” He wrote back and soon the door opened.
This is all appropriate and on point because these are New Media classes where we talk directly about the use, abuse, impact, relevance, dangers, emergence, transformation of new media in all forms. Plus I love playing with this stuff.
Now a new entry on the syllabus and in the Rules of the Road first-class talk. No sexting. Do I really have to say this? The New York Times says they’re sending naked pictures to each other in high school. In my 101 Intro to New Media class, most of the 77 or 82 students are in their first year of college. In fall term, the last school experience they had WAS high school.
Add this to my list. It’s child pornography and it’s a crime.
Remember when the most heinous crime we addressed in writing classes was the misplaced modifier?

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Okay, so I don’t have time now to describe the astonishingly brilliant final projects my students in NMC 301 Writing for the Media Professional presented last night.

I’ll post the links and give descriptions when I don’t have to run. BUT…I had to post about this word one of my students introduced to me last night, at 10:30 pm, as we were all walking to the parking lot. after being dazzled by the group presentations.

“So,  we’re Twackling now, too,” said Ryan McCall casually, (he works for OSU Sports Information)   like a sinkhole hadn’t just opened up beneath us, swallowing the world.


I have not had time to Google this fresh New Media Hell, but when I do, IT’S ON!!! It’s gonna be TWACKLE MANIA from here on out. I don’t care what it is or if it’s stupid.  BRING IT.

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(I took this post from my About the Blog page, which nobody reads so I’m moving it here.)

I’m a former newspaper reporter now teaching New Media Communications at Oregon State University. My students require an entirely new set of skills and talents far more technologically sophisticated than my Gen X peers did when we came up, when “media” was called “journalism” and things made more sense.

Now there’s a whole generation of editors and profs working under a whole new set of rules, trying desperately to hold onto as many of the old values of content, substance, accuracy, fairness, justice and professionalism while learning to Fark and Twitter and Vodcast  and Podcast, Twitter my Tweets and Optimize my Search Engines.

This blog is me writing from that tightrope, balancing like we all are, on what feels like a crossroads made of dental floss. The extra trick for me is that this journey of technologizing and socially mediating my media is not one I’m making alone. I actually have to teach students what I know, while I’m learning it.

So there it is.

Like New Media itself, those of us who came up in Old School, big-city newspaper journalism are flailing in transformation. We have a trove of essential journalistic skills. We are diligent and enterprising reporters, skilled and empathic interviewers. We have a hound’s nose for news. We see stories leaping out of the woodwork and we know how to report the hell out of them and make them sing. We can pound out a 1500-word story in 24 minutes that does the readers and sources justice. We demand fairness, balance and accuracy of ourselves and our work.

We still believe deeply in the old saw about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

We learned on typewriters, moved up to Trash 80s and portabubbles; we transmitted stories through pay phone lines and the raw nerve of deadline dictation. We did not fight technology. No siree. We embraced the newfangled. We boogied and House Partied onto the Internet and got our first e-mail accounts in the 90s. We rode the Information Superhighway, pal. I mean, all our aerobics classes played Techno music!

But the story was still king. We worked on our own time writing those long Sunday Page One features about how the system failed the most vulnerable of us. We gave voice to the voiceless.

We wrote tight and bright when our bosses went to management conferences and learned we all had to write like USA Today.

We embraced the long and winding narrative lead where the nut graph didn’t make it before the jump.

We wrote touchy-feely trend thumbsuckers on parenting when our Boomer bosses started having kids.

When our bosses made us rip a comb through our hair and run an iron over our clothes we chugged down our Joe, spiffed up and dragged our perk-o-lated selves onto televsion spots, learning how…to…speak….using…a….telepromp….ter….um…without….um…cursing…much.

After two decades of the frantic, hectic, adrenalinized daily news life, you expect us to do WHAT now? Podcast and vodcast and slideshows? Yahoo who? Facebook my what? Film it? Blog it? Twitter it? Digg it? FARK it?

Alrighty then, we say. Bring it.

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Not sure I can add much to the heartfelt blog posts and updates by the Oregon Daily Emerald staffers in this crucial post-strike moment. They have the choice to be humble, to learn, or not. They clearly have chosen the former. I’m particularly stunned by the connection developed between the Emerald and The Commentator. I mean, that was one unhealthy relationship…not uncommon in college media; the “alternative” paper, often politically conservative, constantly going after the mainstream daily. They had that classic duet down to a science. And now, well, you just have to read below.

It’s their experience to name, document and describe, not ours. Something incredibly important happened, though, and we’d all be wise to do what these students asked of us  (even in the midst of the worst moments) that we all think this through together. What do we learn? What are the implications? What IS editorial independence, really? How does and should it work? What’s our industry standard? Does financial instability open doors to new definitions? Who’s the decider? We’ve got a lot to talk about.

In a recent post they wrote:

“We hope to see more academic discussion and analysis that might help guide us in where to go from here. And, of course, we appreciate the interest in the life of the paper for which we care so dearly.”

What Now? The student journalists did their part. We must do ours.

Here’s a bit from their latest blog update. I think there may be some radio silence after this for a while, as nobody has slept in days.

Harmony, connectedness, friendship on horizon

March 6, 2009 by independentjournalist

We would like to express our utter gratitude to the  33 student newspapers who stood up with us and echoed our message across the continent, a chorus for which we are so grateful. As we return to work, we offer them our heartfelt thanks.

We now hope that our further, mediated discussions will remedy the ills we went on strike to correct and forge not just greater harmony among the entire staff of the paper, but a more connected campus community.

It has already warmed relations between us and our staunchest critics, the staff of the Oregon Commentator. Their excellent piece in support of us brought tears to our eyes. Their solidarity in refusing to produce content during our strike demonstrated the bite behind their bark — even though the fact that Commentator Editor-in-Chief CJ Ciaramella stayed up until at least 6 a.m. the night before may have been just as much responsibility as solidarity and professional brotherhood…….”

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