There once was a day of jrn class
When alas our professor was last
She made it to campus
But not before she passed us
A homework assignment to do
(My future obviously does not lie in poetry, but I am comfortable with that.) On Feb. 25 Prof. Hanus was caught in some nasty traffic on 96 and was late to class. Being the social-media addicts that we are, most of the students in class were killing time by surfing sites like Twitter and Facebook. Lo and behold we found a Hanus-tweet that led us to instructions on Audioboo for how to spend our time. In this crazy age of technology, Nancy was able to record herself, while sitting in her car on the Interstate, giving us instructions for a spur-of-the-moment assignment. (A note to all you motoring daredevil journalists out there: make sure you are stationary before trying to record yourself – think of the children.)
We learned several things from this experience. The first was to be prepared; we were instructed to go out into the halls and find students to interview on video, but very few of us had cameras on hand. I have rectified that situation by buying a Flip and keeping it in my book bag, which I always have with me. The second lesson I learned was that we need to pay close attention to sites that offer constant updating; things can happen in the blink of an eye, and as journalists we always need to know what’s happening practically before anyone else does. If we hadn’t been online, we wouldn’t have found Nancy’s message, and we would have missed the assignment. This lesson applies to the level of attention we pay to sites like Twitter – constant vigilance is a powerful tool for information collecting.
While the impromptu assignment was met with some significant dismay from the students, it was a really good example of what is possible with all the tech tools we have lying around us.
– Laura Riess