OSU Journalism iPads: One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward

Posted on August 31, 2013

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We are just completing our first week with the iPads, and we may finally be hitting our stride.

Tuesday was spent with Cory Tressler getting acclimated with our apps, setting up email and preferences, and encasing them in our OtterBox.

Almost every students seemed to sigh in relief once the iPad was ensconced in the OtterBox, as it was a more rugged and equal partner than a defenseless, fragile baby.

Typing was our first challenge on the day, as we tried out the virtual keyboard as a normal QWERTY and in a split screen. Whether typing with thumbs on the split works long-term in long form is yet to be seen, but many were giving it a try.

Our first real challenge came Wednesday, and it had nothing to do with my students. So eager was I to get started teaching them journalism that I jumped in with news value and story ideas, and encouraged them to start typing with Evernote.

What I failed to do, however, is help them navigate our iTunes U course and the lectures they would need to keep up with our flipped class.

I also neglected to take into account the fact that they were truly four days behind on the lectures since we did not give them the iPads until Tuesday, and I had originally planned they would watch the videos over the weekend and be ready to roll by Tuesday. When I started talking about story ideas, I received a few blank stares and realized we need to take baby steps before we could start to stride toward a story.

Thursday brought an apology and a step-by-step journey through our iTunes U course schedule and our text-book, “Always Get the Name of the Dog.”  I also introduced them to practical uses for apps like Evernote, Penultimate and HootSuite, and let them play with my Jot pen.

By the end of the class we were talking about story ideas and had looked at the six facts–Who, What, When, Where, Why and How–and their role in journalism.

It felt so good to be back in familiar territory.

Judging by the Tweets (some of which are being Storified), students are embracing the lectures and our conversations Thursday and Friday were spirited and showed a clear consumption of the online material, and we had an enthusiastic time pairing off to take facts and turning them into a summary lead to end our week–typing furiously into WordPress.

I am alto thrilled as students discover iPad and app secrets that we don;t know (how to do admin changes through WordPress app being one). I think the technology has made us even more of a community.

It was hard to hide my glee when the one person who said she was confused waved me away when I started to explain iPad intricacies. “I’m not sure about writing the inverted pyramid,” she said, to which I blurted out, “Thank goodness–we can fix that!”

Challenges to ponder:

  • Editing WordPress was a challenge for one student through the app. I’ve asked her to call so we can walk through.
  • Typing on the iPad is slow going, and I fear thumb typing will be tiring. I went for a keyboard in my own work–wonder if they will as well.
  • They are tweeting like champs, but next week will start with photos and brief video when they seek stories. That will be a lot to do for one assignment.
  • One student keeps gravitating toward the Mac instead of the iPad, but we are working on it!
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Posted in: Journalism