Archive for Teaching

OpenAustralia, eDemocracy and education

I’ve been a volunteer with OpenAustralia for some time now, and I don’t think I’ve talked enough about why I admire this project so much, and why I think it’s so important. It’s because I believe in transparent, accountable and accessible government. It’s because I believe in removing the obstacles which keep people from participating in their government. And it’s because I believe in enabling and encouraging greater use of technology, especially for education. OpenAustralia supports and is informed by all these beliefs.ย It empowers people to use technology tools to educate themselves and participate more fully in their own government.

We’re lucky enough to have a pool of volunteer developers across Australia who are busy working on improving and extending the functionality of the OpenAustralia website and its underlying software. For example, there’s now a mobile version of OpenAustralia, and there are also a couple of nifty new features which make it easier to share and republish information from the website. You’ll now see a “Share this” button next to every speech on the OA website, so you can easily share it via social networking sites. And, for WordPress users, there’s now a PoliPress plugin that lets you easily import speeches to your wordpress blog for commentary or discussion. See the OpenAustralia news post “OpenAustralia goes mobile and gets social” for further information.

I also wanted to mention a very cool school outreach program which was developed by the Victorian Electoral Commission, called Passport to Democracy. It’s aimed at Year 9-10 students, and it’s a program which teachers can use to teach students about how the election process works, by getting students to identify and research issues that they care about, then getting them to vote on which issue they want to take local action on. I love this program for many reasons. It encourages students to think about how they can take action locally on something they care about, rather than removing them from the process by encouraging them to send a letter to their MP and sit back and wait for someone else to take action on their behalf. It is getting them to vote for ideas they care about, rather than a more abstract notion of a political party or official.

If you are a Victorian teacher (or want to recommend this program to your local teacher or high school), then visit the VEC’s Passport to Democracy page, or go to their Edublog, where you can get more information about the program, and read some feedback from a teacher at Strathmore High School.

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CoPress – cool web tips for journalism students (of all ages)

I wrote this post for my students over at our class community on Ning, then realised I really wanted to share it here too. ๐Ÿ™‚
I think I’ve mentioned CoPress before, but I’ve just been reading a few of their latest posts, and they just have so much useful info I wanted to mention them again.

CoPress is “a non-profit organization dedicated to providing college news outlets with the technical resources and support network they need to innovate online.” Among other things, they’ll host your student publication for you! And yes, before you ask, they’re happy to work with Australian unis, I already asked them. ๐Ÿ™‚

The CoPress blog is awesome, packed with useful info and links. Here are two recent posts I thought you’d find helpful:

A awesome walkthrough of a multimedia “deep journalism” website put together by the Amherst Wire. You’ll see they even show you the flowcharts they drew to help them design their site. ๐Ÿ™‚

A recent “link sharing” post they made looked at the recent big changes in newspaper publishing including the closure of the Seattle PI but it also has some really handy links about how student publications are using WordPress (and some recommendations of good plugins).

If you browse recent posts on the blog you’ll see they constantly mention new web tools (or how to get the most out of existing ones) – this post made me want to check out BlogTalkRadio – a way to record podcasts and then let listeners ‘call in’ with questions.

Hopefully at least some of those links will be helpful to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Upcoming class for student editors at NEWS09

There’s a student media conference coming up here in Melbourne and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be teaching a class in web publishing as part of it.

NEWS09ย is a conference for student editors being held over the weekend of 6 and 7 January 2009. This cool sounding event is run by Express Media.

There’s not a lot of info online yet about NEWS09 but I suspect the website will be expanded soon as they’re just finalising the running sheet for the day.

My session is about online publishing, and will cover the basics of getting online, from registering a domain name, to creating an effective web publication, and how to promote and network successsfully. All in an hour, so it’s going to be a whirlwind tour. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m really looking forward to meeting some student editors from this century. ๐Ÿ™‚ When I was at uni, the student media types were Dave Penberthy, Annabel Crabb and Sam Maiden. See, lots of student editor types go on to be Real Journalists. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I'm teaching digital media at the University of Melbourne

I’m happy to let you know that I’m going to be teaching at the University of Melbourne this year in the School of Culture and Communications. In Semester 1 I’ll be teaching Advanced Editing for Digital Media, which is basically the web publishing component of the Uni’s postgraduate publishing degree.

This is exciting for me because I’ve been wanting to teach for a while, and it means I get to try to help solve a problem which I became acutely aware of when we interviewing journalism graduates for an online role at Crikey, which was that unis seem to be producing graduates who treat the net like just another publishing platform instead of getting involved with building and interacting with online content and communities. And of course, uniย courses tend to lag far a year or two behind what’s actually happening out there in the world – I’ll be trying to overcome this the best I can.

I’ve never taught a formally structured course before – and I’ll be looking around for ideas and inspiration for how to not suck as a teacher. I’ll be drawing lots of inspiriation from Dr Michael Wesch’s Digital Ethnography videos and blog – but any tips, links or suggested reading would be gratefully received. ๐Ÿ™‚

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