My 301 Writing for the Media Professional class will be in a frenzy of inaugural Twittering and blogging for tonight’s class. They’ve just set up their blogs and one student, Ryan, wrote a post I thought I’d share here. I asked students to write a “media self inventory” describing what media (new and old) they consume, in what format, how often, and for how long. Ryan’s co-op just completed a media blackout, which created an opportunity for Ryan to think and write critically about new media in the face of its absence. Read all about it:

Media Blackout…Good?

January 13, 2009 · No Comments

My first post for this blog is going to be a self evaluation of what media I consume and contribute daily. This self evaluation comes at an interesting time for myself. I currently am the president of a all guys Christian co-op just off of campus at Oregon State University. Towards the end of last term (Fall Term) our house decided that during the first week of winter term we would have a media blackout. A blackout from all electronic media including television, Internet, movies, and video games. The idea behind the blackout was to in some ways force people out of there rooms and be more social with each other. Having completed such blackout I have come to realize several things.

Read more at Ryan’s blog:



New eyetrack study explored in 10, post. Readers are a strange breed…

Back in the day, when the idea of video telephones was promised as the Next New Thing, I despaired.

You mean to tell me that my phone rings and if I’m half asleep and pick it up the telemarketer or cable guy or school principal SEES me? The intrusion appalled me.

Fast forward to Facebook, one of favorite exits to stop on the Information Superhighway to avoid writing or grading or parenting. I’ve just discovered the same intrusive hitch. Who knows why it took me so long to notice. I’m blissfully chatting away, searching for old high school pals, catching up with old colleagues leaping out  the windows at various newspapers, and suddenly a small box pops up on the lower right side of the blue line on the bottom of my screen  and it’s shrieking “HEY PAM!!!” And I’m like, WHAT?? It’s a former student. I look over and it’s telling me there are 13 of my “Friends” also online. It dawns on me. THHEY ALL KNOW I’M ONLINE BECAUSE I KNOW THEY’RE ONLINE BECAUSE THE LITTLE FREAKIN’ BOX TELLS THEM SO! And I’m in my jammies!!

Quickly closed everything, logged off, turned off, turned out the lights, shut the door. What an invasion.

I’m not on Facebook now. Nobody can find me. Safe at last in the comfort and privacy and peace of my own blog.

Don’t ask academics if they have the summer “off.” We do not. I know. I know. It completely looks like we do. We teach for nine months and then summer off the coast or cape of something.

It is, as my brother says, a Jedi Mind Trick. 

I’m full-on technology this summer, in fact. I’m teaching my first online course on Blackboard. I’d like to report that I love it, but I don’t. I miss their faces. I know, as a New Media gal, I shouldnt, but I do. I can’t connect with them and they can’t connect with me in the same way as when we’re in the classroom, together, same time, same station. It’s week four of an eight-week course. I put up all kinds of readings and articles and books and then we “discuss.” They’ll write more formal assignments and I’ll get a better sense of what they know and how they’re processing the material.

I’m also transforming my “Reporting” course, which is normally a three-hour weekly lab/writing intensive funzone, into an online course. How do I do this, folks? I bring in guest speakers, we have writing workshops, do peer edits, cover events together as a class and then brainstorm leads and compare our best quotes. We discuss endlessly. I bore them to death with my old war stories. I even channel my old beloved the (never) late Medill Prof. Richard Hainey (if your mother tells you she loves you check it out!!!)

We argue about ethics right there with each other. I red-ink their papers until the ink seeps off the page and onto their hands like blood. It’s SO GREAT! How do I recreat this? Should I even try? What part of teaching is or should be personality, human connection, inspiration, mutual recursive energy?

I’m meeting with our tech folks tomorrow to learn some of the technical ways to move docs or video and other stuff into where it needs to go. I’m also going to try some video “lectures,” so my charming personality is not silenced by this medium.

Then I’m supposed to completely revamp our intro course, Intro to New Media Communications. Where to begin? What do we want students to know? How do we balance technological skills with content? What is considered content? What’s our responsibility to teach the technology, the software, etc… to our students, versus just telling them they must know InDesign, etc… and then assuming they’ll learn it? What common terms, concepts, histories should they know when they leave? How early do we get them into experiential work? Doesn’t this industry demand experience most of all?

What should and intro course look like? I’m looking forward to meeting with my colleagues in the program to work on these questions.

Lastly, I’m trying to work on a book. Who has time?