I am now four 90 minute classes and two days through my total of seven classes and four days for the digital journalism class that I'm teaching at Keio. The students are super-motivated and exceptionally bright and I feel honored to be their instructor. This is the first year of the Keio Graduate School of Media Design. There is something special about the students in any first year of a new school. I find they tend to be slightly weird, bright and risk-taking and always enjoy getting to know them.
Although the class was supposed to be in English, because all of the students are native Japanese speakers, we decided to conduct the class in spoken Japanese.
Because we only have four days together, the students and I are under a lot of pressure to get a lot done in a short amount of time, interestingly similar to the deadline pressure of some kinds of journalism.
The students seem to be willing to put in the effort, most of the students staying well past the end of the class working in their teams. I also notice them active on IM, email and on the web during my "jet lag zone" of 3AM-5AM.
One of the bits of advice that Howard Rheingold gave me for teaching was to quickly divide the group into smaller groups or teams and have them discuss things among themselves. This seems to have worked and I now have four teams working on stories.
It was also interesting watching the class change from heated debate about the issues into a sort of newsroom sort of atmosphere as the projects started to take shape. As I popped from group to group, it was fun watching the discussion dance around between the "big idea", the logistics, the design of the output and the nature of the interaction with the public. It reminded me of the energy in teams working on exciting start up companies.
Although there is some in-class work and discussion, the bulk of the time will be devoted to the team project. The teams are allowed to use any form of technology to research, interview, and output the story. They will also be evaluated on the quality of the interaction with the audience and the ultimate impact that the project has.
The first team is team Kyah!. They are working on the question of the future of search. They have begun their research and scheduling interviews. They have a group blog of the team members and have some information on their Google Sites page. You should be able to add comments both on the group blog and the Sites pages so any feedback or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
The second team is team OCTOPAS. They are working on trying to understand and report on how the rest of the world views Japan. In particular, they are digging into a story that I told about the Croatian Japanophile/Anime community. They are reaching out in particular to Japanophiles, fan-subbers and anime fans. If you fit in this category, I'm sure they'd like your input. Please see their Google Sites page for more information.
The third team is team Sandwich. Sandwich is working on the digging into photojournalism. Current event-wise, they are looking at the coverage of the G8 protests in Hokkaido. They are also trying to understand the impact of technology on photojournalism and how photojournalism might be changing. As far as I know, they are intending to produce some sort of video as their final output format. They've got some of their thoughts on their Google Sites page. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
The last group is group 1Ds. They have decided to focus on the exploring the differences in Digital Media Policy between Japan and the rest of the world. Because they have a native Portuguese speaker on the team, they are spending some of their time focusing on Brazil and have contacted the Ministry of Culture of Brazil to try to get and interview with Giberto Gil. Their notes and progress are on their Google Sites page and would probably appreciate any thoughts you might have.
More later as the projects develop.