IPhones transform student journalism and learning

IPhones have enjoyed an immense proliferation over the past several years with some unexpected audiences. Many journalists today use iPhones to shoot footage and upload multimedia video at newsworthy sites, and student journalists use the Apple products both to learn about journalism and to produce their own multimedia stories. Students at The Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s campus newspaper, often use their phones for work.

Multimedia Journalism’s post Masterclass 14: iPhone for Journalism details the reasons journalists use the devices in their line of work:

  • Camera for still shots and video
  • Voice memo app for audio
  • QWERTY keyboard for text
  • GPS to pinpoint location and link story to place
  • Apps simplify uploading stories to social networks

University curricula implement iPhone technology for student use

When the University of Texas’ Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas first offered a massive open online course in journalism, nearly 2,000 students registered. Fast forward a couple months, and the university’s second MOOC has drawn 5,000 students. Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president at Knight Foundation, said,

Journalists in the digital age need to know much more than ever, not just how to get and share the news but how to use the new, powerful tools to do it.

In 2009 the University of Missouri School of Journalism announced that students enrolled in the journalism program would be required to purchase an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and controversy ensued among the student body. The university later clarified they only recommended the purchases, but the event strikes a chord in the hearts of future journalists. Technology is here to stay, and journalism classes are implementing iPhones and other technology in their journalism and general courses. IPhones are easier to carry than heavy backpacks, and the apps contain infinite opportunities for learning.

Jessica Bergstrom, a student in a mass communications course at the University of Maryland, enjoys using her iPhone for class activities.

Students use iPhones during class, instructors question learning value

Many institutions handed out thousands of iPhones and iPod Touches to students over the past few years, including the University of Maryland, Cornell University and Duke. University officials say the devices may enhance learning, let students conduct research while in class, respond to professors’ polls and receive homework electronically.

Robert Summers, who has taught at Cornell Law School for about 40 years, said he would ban laptop computers from his fall contracts class because the devices inhibited student engagement. Other officials may be willing to overlook the cons of technology in the classroom in favor of its benefits. Kyle Dixon, codirector of research and the mobile learning initiative at Abilene Christian University in Texas said he thinks this is the way the future will work.

Students, however, like the trend. In a 2010 semester-long study, students in an introductory statistics class were given an iPhone application to supplement learning. Most of the 36 students reported an increased motivation to study because of the convenience of mobile access, and more than two-thirds reported they developed a better understanding of the course material because of the app.

Yehudis Mendlowitz, a former student at Montgomery College, expressed her desire to integrate more interactivity and technology in blended learning and online courses.

Gen Y students who have been raised with technology would like to see media implemented in classrooms. For them, these platforms are a way of life, and administrators refusing to allow new learning forms is simply a way of pushing off the future and continuing traditional teaching methods because it’s the way they’ve always done it. The only way we will succeed, these students say, is by using the tools available to improve our line of work, and not -although it may be easier- by cowering in the past.