As someone who teaches digital media to college students, I eagerly awaited Journalism Interactive: The Conference on Journalism Education & Digital Media. Told my Digital Journalism II class to expect to be set on fire from all that I might discover at the two-day event this past weekend at the University of Maryland.

I figured 60 to 100 journalism educators would join me on Friday and Saturday. Wrong! More than 400 people from more than 120 institutions attended. By all accounts, it was a worthwhile trip and job well done by the conference committee; the host, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and its corporate partner, publisher SAGE/CQ Press.

I won't even to try to capture all that I learned from the 75 or so great speakers in a single blog post. Hoping to share a few related posts soon. A couple of highlights, though, readily come to mind: "Emerging Tech Trends for Academia," by multimedia guru Amy Web, CEO of Webbmedia Group, and "The Social Media Teacher's Toolkit" by Jeff Cutler, social media trainer for the Society of Professional Journalists' Newsroom Training Program.

Another highlight: the Teach-a-Thon, featuring 14 journalism educators – shout out to Craig HerndonAndrew LihEd Madison and Stacy Spaulding – who each had a few minutes to share fantastic ideas and techniques they employ in their classrooms. You can find the Teach-a-Thon resources here. Indeed, their presentations are among the archived videos of those sessions streamed live during the conference.

It impressed me that some of my students back at Marquette University spent time following the conference via Twitter – even on a Saturday morning! "Loving these tweets from@herbertlowe at #jiconf. I feel like I'm there," @becca_french tweeted. @katie__doherty, a self-described "overachiever," ended up engaging Burt Herman, CEO and co-founder of Storify, after I had tweeted he was on a panel. (My #JOUR1100 and #JOUR1550 students each did their own Storify after live-tweeting the university's recent presidential inauguration. Here are my Storifys.)

From Katie: @herbertlowe Tell @burtherman I'm liking the new @Storify as I work on NY latest live-tweeting project. 

From Burt: @herbertlowe @katie__doherty Thanks for the kind words and please let us know your suggestions!

From Katie: @burtherman @herbertlowe You're welcome. @Storify has become a great tool for young journalists to utilize in the classroom.

Well, that's all for now. Like I said, more posts stemming from this great conference to come soon.

With Burt Herman, CEO and co-founder of Storify, after a media entrepreneurship panel at the Journalism Interactive conference.
As the faculty adviser for the Marquette University student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), I worry when its leadership and direction is left to its own energies and devices.

But when NABJ-MU announced it had secured Benet Wilson, the Aviation Queen and chairwoman of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force, to do a webinar on digital portfolios on a night this week I could not attend, I didn't worry. I knew that "Aunt Benet," as students affectionately call her, would ensure all went well – just as when she moderated a similar workshop, "Brand You: Creating Your Online Identity," at the NABJ convention in August.

Appreciated the live tweets from the webinar. Here's one from chapter president Marissa Evans: "Looking at best practices on using Weebly.com for digital portfolio already see ways I can improve mine at www.marissaevans.com #NABJDP"

From Erin Caughey of my Digital Journalism II class: "Students attending #NABJDP tonight walk away with some helpful tips from @NABJDigital and @benetwilson to update personal sites. #JOUR1550." 

And from the chapter's Twitter account, @NABJ_MarquetteU: "Special thanks & much love to our dear Aunt @BenetWilson/@NABJDigital for a GREAT webinar this evening #weloveyou #NABJDP."

Many thanks to Aunt Benet for sharing her wisdom with the only NABJ student chapter in Wisconsin. I look forward to seeing her produce the NABJ convention in New Orleans in June. She's the convention program chairwoman.

"Much like the camera doesn't blink, the recorder doesn't miss anything," sound expert Jon Pray tells my Digital Journalism II class.
"Hi! Audio is kind of my thing" – an understated introduction from the typically understated Jon Pray, the associate vice provost for educational technology at Marquette, who visited my Digital Journalism II class yesterday to talk about volume, frequency, sampling, bit rate, compression and all things related to recording and editing audio. 

For acquiring, editing and distributing audio, Pray and the class discussed cloud-based options such as SoundCloud, AudioBoo and other apps used on smartphones. "I don't use these because I'm way too cool," he said before demonstrating how to use the, yes, very cool TASCAM DR-05 digital recorder.

His sound advice, no matter the recording choice: "Make sure you see seconds ticking on this thing when you're recording. ... The worst thing you can do is record someone somewhere there is music playing. ... Keep it under the person's chin. You're kind of getting in their face with this thing. It's kind of evasive. But get over it."

Pray then helped guide the class through Audacity, the free, open-source, audio editing software. "This is fun," he said as he advised the students to be sure to get the plug-in that will let them edit MP3s with Audacity. He also introduced them to two acronyms that I'm hopeful – and afraid – they will remember all too well. "I learned that RTM means (to) "read the manual," student Eric Oliver tweeted later. "I also learned that RTFM is like that but different."

The associate vice provost's previous visit to my class apparently was not for naught. "Jon Pray super-helpful in class last year," student Mark Strotman tweeted after seeing all this class' tweets. "Use his tips in every interview. Hope they took good notes." So do I. We'll see when the mid-term projects are presented in class on Tuesday.

"Most of the photos that people send us are from their phone," photojournalist Berford Gammon tells Marquette journalism students.
Berford Gammon admits he is a "cropaholic." So when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's photography director visited my Digital Journalism II class yesterday, eliminating wasted space was a constant theme in his critique of the students' first photojournalism assignment of the semester. So was avoiding redundancy, ensuring story clarity and details, knowing when to use your flash and shooting far more photos than one might think necessary.

Gammon – a native of Columbus, Ohio, who graduated from Ohio State University – and I worked together several years ago at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Using Journal Sentinel photos from the Milwaukee Brewers' playoff run and a feature story about midwives, he also talked about meeting deadlines, maximizing internships, managing photographers, writing captions and working with reluctant or difficult story subjects so you get the best photos.

The photography director also advised the students to stay relevant in their campus or professional organization. Take newsrooms, for example: "You've got to have an opinion on something in journalism. If you don't have an opinion, say, 'Let me have a look at it and I'll get back to you.'" Communications skills are also important. "I always tell my photographers, 'If you can explain your photo to me, and why it's important, then we'll get it in the paper."

While discussing photos shown on the classroom wall, Gammon often called on the class to identify the correct photographic element from among the 14 cited in the NewsU "Language of the Image" module. That so many raised their hands for him to critique their work surprised him. "I love this class!" he said. Based on their tweets afterward, the class appreciated him, too. "Teaching us all how to be real photojournalists," Erin Caughey tweeted.

Mira and I lead our wedding party for a nice stroll along a path to the traditional photo session on the waterfront in Camden, N.J.

Twelve years ago today, the former Mira Thomas of Brooklyn, N.Y., and I became husband and wife at First Nazarene Baptist Church in my native Camden, N.J. I should say, that is, the former "Lovely Mira Thomas," since that's what her Newsday colleagues called her while we dated. Yes, a dozen years later, she's still oh so lovely.

And, yes, times sure have changed. In 1999, many of the 200 friends and loved ones who witnessed our nuptials had to come from New York, North Carolina and elsewhere. Today, nearly that same number shared their love and congratulations via Facebook. Amazingly, more than 115 people hit the "like" button on Mira's post featuring one of her favorite wedding photos. More than 50 of them took time to offer a comment. They all did so presumably from the comfort of their homes on this Sunday and the flurry blew away Mira's previous most-liked post: the one in which she let everyone know that a new Five Guys restaurant was opening in our Chicago neighborhood.

Mira and I greatly appreciate the virtual hugs. For more of the lovely Mira, check out the audio slideshow and companion website that I gave her as 10th anniversary presents in 2009. The slideshow offers smiles aplenty along with one of my favorite songs, “Your Smile.” You can find other audio slideshows capturing our wedding and our life together here and on the 2009 site. By the way, on that site we answer an often-asked question: how did we meet?