Knight helps journalism educators experiment with digital projects

In 2011 journalism educators talked about using – on campus – some of the free, open-source software that was starting to be released from Knight’s News Challenge projects.  The idea was that the latest technology could be easily adopted in ways that would be useful at the university or local community level and would help students and faculties learn to create digital projects.

With Knight Foundation support, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication launched a contest of mini-grants, available to the students and faculties of any journalism and mass communication school.  The intent was to reward innovative uses of the available software.

The call for proposals is already out for the second round of the competition:  The deadline is Sept. 10 – and there will be 10 mini-grants available for as much as $8,000 each.  The grants give students and faculty hands-on experience with digital software.

The first round of the competition is complete, and there are 10 projects off the ground.  Each of the project leaders met recently at the annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention to share their projects and how they applied News Challenge software to their local communities:

1.    Crowdsourcing, data visualization and event-mapping in Chile

Led by Ingrid Bachmann and Sebastian Valenzuela, Universidad Catolica de Chile

Kilometro Cero is a news outlet for students and the community in Santiago, Chile. KM Cero is built using the Ushahidi platform, and is managed by students and faculty at the School of Journalism at the Universidad Catolica de Chile. The tool helps crowd source information and show student protests happening in Santiago through data visualizations.

2. high school news feed:

Led by Peter (Piotr) Bobkowski, University of Kansas aggregates news from high school newspapers across Kansas. It is built using Feedbrewer. The site is geared toward high school students, high school newspaper advisers and the citizens of Kansas. Seventeen high schools are participating in the project.

3.   CityCircles light rail job classifieds

Led by Serena Carpenter and Nancie Dodge, Arizona State University

This hyperlocal project created an app that would allow the citizens of Phoenix to find out about job opportunities near the light rail. The tool is based on CityCircles mobile app.

4.   Reporting from the storm: OU StormCrowd

Led by Julie Jones, Associate Professor and John Schmeltzer, Engleman/Livermore Professor in Community Journalism, University of Oklahoma

OU StormCrowd is a reporting tool for journalism students to inform the community about Oklahoma tornadoes. The tool was built using the Ushahidi platform. The project was developed by meteorology, journalism and broadcast students. The students were able to cover a major storm event in Norman, Oklahoma on April 13, gaining real-world experience in covering breaking news, using social media and mobile reporting.

5.   OpenBlock at Kent State campus:

Led by Jacqueline Marino, Assistant Professor, Kent State University is a hyperlocal news site featuring crime, news, deals, and events happening in the city of Kent and at Kent State University. It was developed using OpenBlock. The project was developed by journalism, computer science and design students in a multimedia journalism class. The students customized the tool by incorporating video and customizing the map function.

6.   In-depth reporting of methamphetamine production and abuse in Oklahoma

Led by Ray Murray, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University

This investigative reporting project focuses on the growing issue of methamphetamine production and abuse in Oklahoma. The project uses DocumentCloud to help students develop in-depth reports on the topic. The project spans several semesters including students from a computer-assisted reporting class, multimedia journalism class, and a capstone course. The students had the opportunity to receive Investigative Reporters & Editors training on how to best cover the story and will receive more Investigative Reporters & Editors training this fall. Murray said they plan to compile their students’ reporting and coverage on the topic and submit it to the two biggest dailies in Oklahoma for publication consideration.

7.   Telling stories with data: Life at a Hispanic Serving University: Texas State of Change

Led by Cindy Royal, Associate Professor, and Jacie Yang, Assistant Professor, Texas State University

Texas State of Change investigates the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status at Texas State University in San Marcos through data analysis and multimedia.  The project incorporated the use of VIDI, a data visualization tool.  The project was developed by Royal’s journalism students enrolled in her advanced online media course this past spring.

8.   Web and Mobile Application of OpenBlock at Kansas: LarryvilleKU

Led by Hyunjin Seo, Assistant Professor, University of Kansas

This hyperlocal news project, LarryvilleKU maps news and information happening on campus. The project was built using OpenBlock.

9.   Photojournalism and Social Engagement Tablet App: UNL Global Eyewitness

Led by Adam Wagler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

UNL Global Eyewitness is an iPad app that documents photojournalism students’ projects on the state of poverty internationally. Photojournalism students upload their multimedia projects to the app. The app features student work from Kosovo and South Africa. The project was developed during two interdisciplinary courses including journalism, advertising students along with computer science and business students. BookBrewer and DocumentCloud were used to help package the students’ projects.

10. Happening on San Diego State Campus: AzteCast

Led by Amy Schmitz Weiss, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University

AzteCast is a mobile app and website that maps news events happening on the San Diego State University campus. The project was developed using Ushahidi. The project was developed during a course that brought together computer science and journalism students.  Schmitz Weiss also put together her syllabus, tips for educators and other resources (including the open-source code) and put it all online.  Knight Foundation recently posted a blog about the project looking at how these students from two disciplines worked together and learned new digital skills.