JoMC 711 – Writing for Digital Media

December 10, 2006

Module 15 – End of semester post

Filed under: Uncategorized — by cinranker @ 2:52 pm

End of Course Reflection

Starting from zero

This course and JOMC 714 are the only journalism classes I have ever taken.  Consequently, I was apprehensive at the beginning of this semester, but the teachers and fellow students have been helpful and patient with me.

How has my writing changed?

The style of my writing is what has changed the most over the last few months.  Until I took this course, I didn’t think about the difference between online writing and print writing, although now it seems quite obvious.  The major changes in my style are:

  • writing as concisely as possible
  • editing and reediting
  • refraining from using “fluff” words
  • paying attention to the audience

There is still one major problem I have with the substance of my writing, though, and that is developing a thesis.  When I start writing, I have lots of thoughts, but I have a problem making them cohesive under one theme.

Most useful knowledge

For me there are two categories of the most useful knowledge from this course.  The first involves the basic nuts and bolts of online writing.  I learned to:

  • make it concise and scannable
  • use the inverted pyramid style to present information
  • use headlines and subheads (something I never did before)

The other category is the varied and voluminous information I have learned through the discussions on Blackboard.  Even though all of it didn’t necessarily relate directly to what we were supposed to be discussing, being able to tap the knowledge of so many technologically savvy people was an invaluable bonus.

Course criticisms

Here I am faced with the proverbial bad news versus the good news.  Since I always opt to hear the good news last, that is how I will present it here.

The bad news

At the beginning of this course you stated that we had to post a minimum of three postings a week on Blackboard.  Throughout the semester, it became obvious that was not exactly true.  A few times you prompted us to post more (and I am guilty of posting less rather than more).  From your comments, it appears three posts a week is not an adequate minimum.  I would just eliminate that expectation from the course material.

Even though you were trying to be accommodating to me, I don’t think you should have allowed me to critique the Web site I did.  To refresh your memory, it was a delicate situation where I didn’t want the Web page address to appear online, fearing that someone I work with might find my critique accidentally.  Although there was much room for improvement on the Web site and it was a useful assignment, I would say that if a student can’t risk having others read it, choose another site to critique.

That, however, brings up another problem I had.  Having my blog “out there” for others to read was also disconcerting.  I am used to having my assignments available for other classmates to read, but I did not enjoy having my assignments on the Internet.  I would have preferred a password protected venue.

Finally, I am not sure if I liked the concept of no points for grading.  In JOMC 714  everything was assigned points, yet in this course nothing was assigned points.  I understand your reasoning for it, and I believe I probably benefited from it, but I am not sure if I agree with it.

The good news

I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciated the leeway given regarding the subject matter for the assignments.  I know that choosing a church-related organization could have been blocked because of any number of reasons, but I was thankful that you permitted it.  By allowing that, you have helped me in other areas of my graduate studies.

There are other things I liked:

  • your quick response to email questions
  • break for Thanksgiving week
  • resource books, such as the study guide, style guide and grammar handbook

Suggestions for improvement

One think I had trouble with was posting to WordPress.  I wrote it off to my inexperience working with blogs, but others who take this course may have limited experience also.  There are two suggestions I would add to your study guide in relation to WordPress.  First, in really big letters, bolded, neon, if possible, I would say never cut and paste from Word.  It actually says that on the WordPress site, but I didn’t find it until we were well into the semester.  Second, I would pass on the suggestion that if anyone is having trouble with posts (mine was getting bullets to work), try changing blog themes.  When I did that, my problem cleared up immediately.

Although the discussion went well, I was wondering if there was some way we could have broken up into smaller groups for some of the discussion.  When there are that many people in the class and a discussion gets going, it can be intimidating and daunting trying to read all the posts and then adding to them.  I haven’t thought this through any further, but just wanted to throw the suggestion out there.

I have taken several online courses using Blackboard and for the most part I like it.  If there was one thing I could change, however, it would be the capability to highlight a posting so that one can go back to that posting at another time.  If there already is a way to do that, I never figured it out.

And one more thing…

It is hard to believe that 15 weeks have gone by.  I have learned more than I ever thought I could about things that are directly relevant to my professional vocation.  Although it was challenging and the workload was intense, it ranks right up there as one of the best graduate courses I have ever taken.

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