A Virtual Class, A Virtual Brief Case
At Twestival last night friends asked me about my experience teaching a class on the social web and blogging for the Masters Degree students at City University of London. They suggested I blog about the details of it — the software applications, the equipment, the people who were present, what worked and what didn’t. This blog post is meant to do that.
A Virtual Class with Virtually Everything
The journalism school at City University London, which “Has accrued legendary status within the media,” according to The Independent, was the scene for a cutting edge student experience on February 4th — a transatlantic class on the power of digital publishing. Course Director of MA Publishing Studies, Mary Ann Kernan, arranged for her MA students in the Work Placement Module to meet virtually with publishing veteran and social web strategist — Liz Strauss (um, me) — in the university lab.
The purpose of the class was a direct connection with an industry advisor who understand the uses of digital publishing in this time of rapid change as students begin their own “placement blogs.”
Preparation — the Materials: With limited time to cover a huge subject, I wanted to offer students lingering value toward developing their placement blogs –a requirement for their degree and placement in future employment. I invited students to join a group at YUDU.com group (a client site) which is built out as a “virtual briefcase” of resources. The online group would allow them to access the materials from any computer at any location. Rather than a single class syllabus. It was filled with examples of publications, resources, and links to webpages to help students see the motivation, depth, and breadth of opportunities for expression and connection that digital publishing allows. The students could review the materials at their leisure before, during, and after the session. They still have access to everything.
Preparation — the Application and Equipment: The day before the class we met via the Internet, using the lab’s Adobe Connect application, my dual screen PC, and the City U’s lab equipment, which would included every student on their own computer. After several hours of attempting a full connection, the video only worked in one direction — from the UK to the US. We weren’t quite sure what caused the problem. The audio was up and working. The chat was fully functioning. We moved forward.
I wasn’t entirely disappointed. The Chicago to London time difference meant I would be meeting the next morning at 4 a.m. Perhaps we saved the students a sight in the dark hours of my early morning …
Class Content — The class was an exciting conversation with the next generation of digital publishing professionals. We discussed the use of blogs, Twitter, the variety of e-commerce opportunities for publishers. The YUDU collection made it easy to demonstrate uses such as, groups, publishing, linking — the hyperlink feature is a standout for web users — messaging, and most importantly, the ways that the e commerce and digital publishing can be professional and easy for publishers of any size.
Class Participants The City University of London Work Placement class enrollment is half male, half career changers, with world citizens that include two from India, one from Taiwan, two from Brazil, two from the US, two from Ireland, one from France. They’ve had a thorough grounding in the strategic impact on the publishing industry of the digital shifts; several will be doing digital projects on their imminent placements (from 16 Feb) – Penguin, HarperCollins, LittleBrown, a literary agency, CUP, Haymarket Mags, Sage, Wiley; in a variety of depts and potential roles.
Also participating were Professor Kernan, the lab staff, myself, and Jonathan Cornwell, COO of YUDU, who had graciously accepted our invitation to be a part of this use of his company’s product.
It was the second City University of London session, I’ve been a part of. The first was last year (and in person) with both the school of Journalism and the Cass Business School. We look forward to continuing our ongoing relationship as we both learn more about each other and how the technology can serve us across the Atlantic.
It’s virtually thrilling to share a real-time conversation about publishing from Chicago to London with an entire university class and to finish before the sun has risen.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!