- My primary goal was to improve my Internet presence so that it better brands me as a journalism educator. In other words, redoing this website. Mission accomplished. I amended the main navigation so that my blog is now the home page, and so my biography, curriculum vitae and teaching emphasis are more accessible.
- #loweclass was born! Thanks to inspiration from the Poynter Institute's News University – and Jennifer Lee Reeves in particular – my journalism classes have a combined home on this site and on Facebook, as well as a brand attracting students and educators elsewhere. #loweclass even trended on Twitter once this fall.
- Speaking of students elsewhere, I enjoyed interacting with three young women who sought my help in better branding themselves as future or new journalists. Meet Erika J. Glover, a graduate of Penn State University, Taylor Shaw of The Triangle Tribune and Kouki Collier of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
- I had two journalism-education articles published on Poynter's website. In July, I wrote a blog about how to make your #twesume count on Twitter. It was so well received that several weeks later the institute allowed me to extend it into a much longer article that was tweeted more than 600 times from its site. Also in July, Poynter published my piece on teaching journalism students to live tweet campus events.
- Yes, live tweeting. That article – and my promoting the concept at major gatherings of journalism educators in July and August – spawned many questions my way about live tweeting and or using Storify. So I created three related blog posts – namely, "Storination: New Tool to the Rescue," "Great Tips on Conference Tweeting" and "Live Tweeting Without a Smartphone" – as well as a new blogroll for all of my live tweeting-related posts.
- I learned some things along the way that have or will be used in the classroom. A blog post, "I Joined Pinterest and Survived," impressed some students while worrying others that I might create a related class assignment (maybe next semester.) Meanwhile, please read "loweclass Live Blogs on Election Day" to see how and why I hurriedly learned to use CoveritLive. Also, some of my students created interactive timelines for class presentations after I showed them my first one, a Dipity.com focusing on my NABJ presidency.
- Two other blogs deserve mention: "Four Words She Can Brand By," about my conversation with Sophia Nelson, a friend and award-winning author; and "Focusing on My Digital Stamp," an endorsement of "Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence," the book which inspired this independent study.
It seems like forever since I began pursuing the independent study needed to complete my quest for a graduate certificate in digital storytelling from the Diederich College of Communication. Mercifully, today my faculty advisor told me I had done enough to earn those elusive three credits. A recap of "Becoming a Digital Leader and Educator":
I reported earlier that my latest Digital Journalism II (JOUR 1550) class would pursue community journalism by focusing on local organizations that serve Milwaukee residents. My 16 students wrote in blog posts that they enjoyed the prospect of having the award-winning Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS) publish their work, especially after its editor in chief and project director, Sharon McGowan, visited #loweclass #digital.
Today, NNS published "Gamble Pays Off for Snyder, Northwest Side CDC." It's by Ethan Niquet and Eva Sotomayor and the eighth and final #loweclass effort for the news service this fall. It's also the third consecutive semester my students have these produced two-minute multimedia packages that include a 650-word story. As always, this class assignment take them to new places – literally and figuratively. For example, after once again having to redo some aspect of their project, Sotomayor posted in the class Facebook group that Niquet said: "I feel like I'm running up Bowser's never-ending staircase and I don't have enough stars to get to the top."
Anyway, Casby Bias and Jacob Born had their project, "Martin Drive Neighborhood Events Aim to Bring People Together," published on November 19, well before the rest of their classmates. Among the valuable journalism lessons this pair learned: An assignment that diminishes based on circumstances can be resurrected after a consultation with editors, but then requires expediency so its newsworthiness doesn't expire because of timeliness.
Here are the other #loweclass efforts for NNS this term: "Urban Anthropology Celebrates Diversity, Seeks Artists," by Stephanie Graham and Courtney Perry; "Menomonee Valley Partners Works to Lure People to 'Discover' Valley," by Kaitlyn Farmer and Ben Greene; "Dominican Center Combats Lead Poisoning," by Paulo Acuna and Matthew Barbato; "KANDO Landlords Help Neighbors Feel 'More at Peace,'" by Christopher Chavez and Monique Collins; "Silver Spring Teen Programs Inspire Students to Dream of College," by David Tukesbrey and Alexandra Whittaker, and "Northcott a 'Home Away From Home' For Half a Century," by Patrick Leary and Caitlin Miller.
Let me say again how much my students and I appreciate the wonderful opportunity that McGowan and NNS present #loweclass. Next semester, I will teach Digital Journalism III (JOUR 2100), in which telling stories with video is taught along with using text, audio, images and social media. Noting here that NNS has published work by 13 of the 18 students enrolled. As we continue to work to make the experience mutually beneficial, me and McGowan agree that we will push the students even harder in terms of their reporting and, especially, writing.
For now, let me share these sentiments McGowan expressed to me via email: "I'm very pleased with the amount of effort that your class put into their projects for NNS, as well as the final products. I enjoyed working with each of the students and appreciate their openness to constructive critique and eagerness to improve their skills."
A year ago, I gave my wife a new self-help book as a Christmas present that she concluded was really for me. It took 50 weeks, but I have finally finished reading "Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence," by Erik Qualman, the best-selling author of "Socioeconomics" and one of today's most respected social media experts. I can state without any reservation that it was definitely worthwhile.
I will submit to my faculty advisor a six-page personal assessment that's based on Qualman's book and part of my independent study focusing on my becoming a digital leader and educator. For now, I recommend the book to anyone seeking to lead others in today's digital world. The author focuses on what he calls "five powerful truths" to establishing a leadership or digital "stamp": Simple, True, Act, Map and People. Along the way, he helps us to see how digital titans (for example, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.), fictional characters (Forrest Gump) and others all found their way to success.
If you need to set laughable goals, or wish to know how to unclutter your email, or could use 20 tips for digital video stardom, or want to more proactively promote your personal brand – then rush to buy your spouse or significant other Qualman's "Digital Leader" as a holiday gift. I'm looking for my wife's next book.
My journalism DNA remains strong as I learn and teach new ways to tell and present stories, especially via digital and social media. This blog is where I share what happens in my classroom and my life and, from time to time, offer my views on current events. I appreciate your feedback – either as comments herein or in an email to herbert.lowe [at] marquette [dot] edu.