Is There iPad Proof in the Points?

Posted on September 24, 2013


Our iPad research project is actually composed of two separate aspects: the tool and the content delivery.

Our belief is the iPads will help make our students better and more quickly prepared for journalism married with multimedia and social media, and we are already seeing those results.

They have been Tweeting and linking since day one, and the photos (and in one case video) that accompanied their first articles were a great addition.

But we are also conjoining these efforts with a “flipped” classroom, meaning lectures, delivered on the iPad via iTunes U, are the homework, and work is done together in class.

That model requires that students be willing and committed to reviewing the lecture material at home, and that they retain what they learn.

If they do, however, it enables them to consume far more information than conventional class lectures could ever provide, for limited class time meant lecture material was being conveyed days (or even weeks) after they could/should have been using it.

That means their articles, theoretically, would be more developed than prior first-assignment efforts.

After grading the first assignment, I think we may be on to something.

Based on the grading rubric I provided, the first article edited well fulfilled all of the requirements, and was, in fact, published days later in The Lantern. It was the classes second Lantern publication, a record for the first article.

The minimum grade for any assignment turned in on time is 2.5 points, and the maximum is 10. the average grade was 7.76 among 29 students, as compared with the same article in the prior semester’s class of 6.48 (27 students).

In the Autumn of 2012, two sections of Comm 2221 had average scores in their first articles of 7.3 and 7.2 for 29 and 30 students, respectively.

This semester, the grade breakdown was:
10 points: 4 articles
9.5 points: 1 article
9 points: 5 articles
8.5 points: 1 article
8 points: 6 articles
7.5 points: 2 articles
7 points: 2 articles
6.5 points: 3 articles
6 points: 1 article
5.5 points: 1 article
5 points: 2 articles
4.5 points: 1 article

But I am seeing far more than just article results. Many in this class have quickly shown an understanding of news value and its has shown early an aptitude for identifying story ideas .

There were less AP Style mistakes than first assignments from past classes, which I attribute, in part, to the use of the AP Stylebook App, which allows students to bookmark and easily refer to “favorited” (i.e. often used) style concepts.

Students said the ability to repeatedly review the lectures enabled them to confirm concepts while they were writing, as opposed to relying on notes or memory.

In addition, we have already seen results from social media, as students have grown Twitter followers through their news oriented posts and blog posts about articles have been discovered and commented upon by the reading public.

All was not flawless. We had a fair share who did miss the idea of news, and we had issues related to story structure or a lack of qualified sources.

In addition, a guest speaker who came the day after the first article was turned in was met with blank stares when referring to aspects of that day’s lecture notes.

When queried, my students assured me their lack of preparation was isolated to journalistic fatigue after completing their first article, and I believed them. But we will keep an eye on their lecture progress and understanding.

Article two research has already begun, this time with a focus on Big Data and the goal all articles will be published on a blog advancing the Moritz College of Law’s Big Data Conference.

Let’s see what the next data set reveals.


Posted in: Journalism