One of the best things about this technology is the possibilities it brings in terms of ways to bring different audiences together. Anne and I are starting our collaboration tomorrow. (Note: That page is a work in progress.) And as I’ve been getting e-mails from other teachers from all over the place, I’m thinking even bigger.
Our school has won all sorts of awards for Electric Soup which is a long time electronic magazine featuring creative writers from all over the world. The staff gets hundreds of submissions a year and then they publish the edition using some very high level design and graphics packages. It’s very impressive.
But it’s excellence doesn’t foster collaboration among a diverse student population. You need skills to produce that stuff. (I know I couldn’t design some of those pages!) It’s a beautiful application of Internet technology, but in some ways it represents many of the issues that Pat brings up when he’s talking about the “Digital Paper” that Web logs give everyone access to.
So, what about this…a long distance Web log journalism magazine? One that focuses on a different topic relevant to school kids each month. Writers collaborating from around the country, moving through as writers, then Content Editors etc. Collaborative groups working on through production and design issues, giving feedback, writing and editing together. Each of them with equal access to all of the digital paper they need.
Nothing earth-shatteringly new here. But realistic. That’s is THE BEST PART of what this tool offers…possibilities that were either too difficult or too cumbersome to pull off before just got a whole lot easier. I hate to sound overly dramatic about it, but this does change the landscape in so many ways, and now a lot of it is unexplored territory once again. Pretty cool.
Joe Luft says
Some more thinking out loud. A few things come to mind. Such a collaboration would address some resource problems – hosting not an issue as long as someone can provide hosting (i.e. you) – while also creating an exciting opportunity for collaboration between students from very difference backgrounds.
We’re working on an online magazine (even got some $ for it) but the size of my school makes it difficult to pull off with any regularity. If my small group of students were contributors to a larger effort it would be feasible for us.
My students have a rather unique angle on some global and local issues. Lately, we have had lots of discussions about the changing landscape for immigrants in America due to 9/11 and its aftermath. Imagine my students and your students looking at issues of immigration and ethnic identity in America. I’m thinking of broader issues that have direct connections to kids lives. There would be some overlap but also concerns that are unique to them in their respective communities. I can’t really think of another context in which our students would “meet” so it could be an interesting experiment in digital bridge building.
Will R. says
I think it would be cool too to get a bunch of divergent voices on the same topic. Say we took an issue like homeland security and each of our groups reported what that means to the people in their places. We could pull them all together under one story page with links to the separate pieces.
Barbara Ganley says
I’m glad to see you work out this distance-collaboration model so magnificently–I agree that it is the way to open our students to multiple perspectives on the news and the Amercian experience. Good job.
My students in creative writing (wl.middlebury.edu/el170b)–the artswriting course is done for the year–are working with local fifth grader via a weblog, responding back and forth the way you and I had once envisioned for our classes. I’m also trying out discussions between a group of recent alums who are working writers and my students in this first-level creative writing class with some pretty interesting results even three weeks into the semester (check out Lucas’s discussion thread on the Alums page), with a fluid switching of roles between expert and apprentice (to use Pierre Lévy’s terms) . We’re also trying out digital stories–something you guys should REALLY look into for your journalism class—we’ll have these posted by next week. Do you know about the work Joe Lambert is doing at the Digital Storytelling Center in Berkeley? (www. storycenter.org) When you’re out in SF next Novemeber, you should by all means check out their work–it has enormous potential for the weblog in the classroom.
Good to follow along with all your good work here. Congrats on the article, too.