Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wiki writing assignment

I turned in my last batch of grades on Friday and have been trying to catch up on everything else ever since. (Among other things, my husband is starting week 4 on the jury for a murder trial and my daughter fell and smashed her mouth at school.) One thing that fell by the wayside: I've been meaning to blog about an extra credit assignment that I did toward the end of the semester in PR writing class.

All I asked students to do was edit or add something to a Wikipedia entry. Josh Hallett showed them how to do it when he spoke to the class earlier in the semester. They just had to send me the link and let me know what they'd done to the article.

I think they had fun with it. Most changed something simple about an organization (church, sorority) or place (hometown, high school) that they're already familiar with. I wanted it to be easy for them just to get them to try it. In exchange, they got 5 bonus points added to their lowest writing lab grade.

I thought about them today with the announcement of Time's people of the year-- I hope they saw it and thought, "hey, I'm part of that, too!" even if that's the only thing they've ever done with social media. Of course, many use Facebook and I've pushed them to try blogging and other social media, as well.

At any rate, it's an easy way to get students to try it out, and it generated a good discussion about how much you can believe about what's on a wiki and what it means to have ordinary people generating media content.


Friday, December 08, 2006

PR Student Writing Portfolios

I've finished one of my classes for this semester, PR Communications, which is our writing class. I've been teaching it virtually every semester, sometimes twice in a semester, for so long now that I've really gotten bored with it. I tried something new this semester by switching up textbooks and adding a few new assignments (more here), but I'm still not satisfied with it.

Fortunately, I have a break from it next spring and summer, so by the time I have it again next fall I hope to have come up with an entirely new way of teaching it, based on having students develop a "first draft" of their professional portfolios. I haven't figured it all out yet, but I know that for their final project I want them to turn in a portfolio which can include things from class or from outside class, the best of what they've written so far in their careers.

I'm also thinking about ditching the textbook altogether and putting more effort into the course packet that I've been using as a supplement to the text. It includes examples of PR materials, many submitted by my former students now working in the field, and I have gotten many compliments on it in the past (including alums writing and asking if they can buy one even though they're out of school).

I would love to get suggestions from both PR students and professionals on the portfolio (what should be included, how to teach it, what is most important to prospective employers) and on the packet and/or textbook adoption, so let me know what you think.


"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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