When I first began teaching social media to students three years ago, I would start the lesson by asking ‘Who uses Facebook?’ Not surprisingly, even back then (three years is a lifetime in the land social media technology) 99.9% were active on Facebook. I would then ask ‘Who uses Twitter?’ And I would generally find only one or two tweeters. This year, however, the response was vastly different. More than half of the students had started a Twitter account. Yes, students did still need some instruction on how to use these platforms effectively as a working journalist, but it appears that there is room (read time – 12 week semesters are just so short) to get into some further detail.
I think there is no doubt that curating social media contributions and collaboration will be an increasing part of the day-to-day activities of a journalist. Hand-in-hand with this development is the need for journalists to have effective strategies for verifying this social media sourced information. I, of course, try to incorporate discussions of these issues, but I have discovered a tool that I think could make the teaching of these concepts far more interactive. Storify is a media narrative platform that allows users to create news narratives by combining information from Twitter, Facebook status updates, YouTube, Flickr and other sources. I first came across Storify at the Online New Association conference (you can read my post about the conference) and I think it could be a great assignment for students to learn these important concepts.
As Kelly Fincham outlines in her fabulous post on how she uses Storify in the classroom, Storify is not about cut-and-paste journalim, but is a tool for the journalist curate content and add context.
I definitely plan on investigating the use of Storify for my online journalism classes next year. I think setting an assignment where students choose an issue or event to present in Storified format will enable them to practice and understand the principles of:
- information selection from social media
- verification of information
- contextualisation of information in a fast moving medium
Interested in some further reading? Check out these blog posts for more Storify goodness:
Mark S. Luckie shares how newsrooms and journalists are using Storify. Zombie Journalism offers journalists (and journalism students) 10 ways they can use the tool, and Poynter tells how Storify’s best uses turns news into conversations.