Twitter Activity Helps Students Connect With Peers From Across the Country

Credit: Marion Doss on Flickr

It doesn’t take much to trigger an awesome experience. In the following case, all that was needed was 140 characters and a low-quality picture taken by a cellphone.

The Twitter Scavenger Hunt is a friendly competition, initiated by the University of Memphis. Journalism students are given the task to find points of interest, to interview local people, to discover little known facts, and share those on Twitter, along with a simple picture. This competition reached five US campuses already, with two more on the way.

[…] this hunt involves more than interviewing and taking photos. Through the hunt, students share information on Twitter, discover the value of building communities and interact with journalists at other universities.

“It was just eye-opening to see how one little project like the scavenger hunt connected us, and we’ve just been networking with these other students like we’ve been friends forever,” said Nicole Blum, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism at the University of Memphis.

Discussing the fact that a lot of people have a negative bias toward social media, calling them a fad and a place for people to express what they are having for breakfast, Nicole Blum, senior at the University of Memphis, says:

“We all just learned that it is really useful in the profession that we chose to study because it’s so easy to access and navigate that it’s really not just a personal thing,” Blum said. “It can really be used as a tool for reporting and getting information out to a large group of people.”

This activity reminds me of another great example of new journalism from the University of Maryland. Information 3.0, taught by Roland Yaros, explores new ways to mix social technologies with journalism. As one of his learning activity, Professor Yaros made his students record short audio comments on campus using Audioboo, a location-aware smartphone app.

As we’re seeing more and more newspapers go belly-up, it is my belief that journalism has a lot to learn from social media, and vice versa.  Now that the playing field is leveled, letting amateurs and professionals use social media, journalists need to reinvent themselves and define the boundary between blogging and news reporting in the 21st century.


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